Friday, August 23, 2013

The Oregon Garden


My adopted home state kicks “fanny” as far as the horticultural industry is concerned. I believe we’re 3rd in the nation, behind California and Florida for agricultural production. Want to visit a nursery? We’ve got an amazing selection of nurseries, there’s no way one could ever hope to visit them all (I’m trying!).

So we must have a few pretty amazing botanical gardens right? Well…we do have several remarkable specialty gardens. The Chinese Garden, The Japanese Garden…those are wonderful, top notch. We also have The Leach Botanical Garden, The Bishops Close and a fabulous group of city parks and rec areas including Forest Park and the Hoyt Arboretum. But what about this place called The Oregon Garden?

According to their website The Oregon Garden is an “80-acre botanical garden, featuring more than 20 specialty gardens showcasing the diverse botanical beauty that can be found in the Willamette Valley and throughout the Pacific Northwest” (source). I last visited the Oregon Garden in 2006 and in all honesty was a little underwhelmed. It’s since under new management and 7 years has probably allowed a lot of smaller plants to mature, it was time I go back.

What did I find? The garden was impeccably maintained. We’ve had a very dry summer but the plants were still looking spring-fresh. Weeds? There weren't many. So why aren’t I gushing?
These first 7 photos were all taken outside the garden, adjacent to the parking lot

The garden feels more commercial than botanical (several of those specialty gardens within the garden are very heavily branded, more like shops within the garden - where you couldn't actually buy anything). Plus each area had its own signage and labeling which makes the garden feel disjointed.

Also, I wasn’t inspired. The most interesting area I saw (get ready for this) was the conifer garden. It presented these plants in a way that showcased them, set them apart for their features. Plants that can be so easily taken for granted as that green (or blue) backdrop for perennials were allowed to shine.

Now I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy the outing, or would discourage anyone from going. Neither is true. After all the garden is full of beautiful plants, why wouldn’t you enjoy that? Heck I even found a couple of new to me plants I want to learn more about. No, I guess what I’m trying to convey is a feeling the garden is aiming to please those who are more likely to shop at a big box nursery, rather than an Oregon specialty nursery, why not aim a little higher? There are so many amazing plants we can grow here in Oregon, why not expose people to more of them and while you’re at it aim to educate with better signage and labeling?
I have to admit I did enjoy this sign stuck into a nursery pot, although it does seem a little haphazzard

Okay with that bit of constructive criticism (you are still with me right?) let’s enjoy the beautiful bounty of The Oregon Garden. Before you enter the garden there is a sales area, I liked that...although there wasn't anything I had to have.

Just outside the visitors center we stopped to eat a quick lunch from the cafe, I could critique the cafe too but this isn't a food blog. On to the plants...

First stop was the water garden.

There were flowers...

Fishes...

More flowers...

And frogs! Sadly he jumped into the water when I reached for the camera. You'll just have to trust me on the frogs.

It was interesting to eavesdrop on people as they walked up to this. Some saw the sun, others an octopus. I can't remember which it was supposed to be.

Anyone know what this vine is?

Olives! Olea europaea (Olive 'arbequina')

This is totally random but I loved it wanted to take it home and put it in my garden.

Yes I know, it's practically as big as my garden!

That's a lovely loquat...

And this! What might it be? A protea???

I haven't found much on Hakea microcarpa yet, but I'm curious and have been researching. According to Florabank it should be hardy here and this tidbit from OSU is interesting. Take a look at the flower here, nice huh? Of course the fact it was whacked back is a bit concerning...

Next stop the Drought Tolerant Garden. We approached this garden from the wrong side I'm afraid. There was outdated signage (they irrigated in 2011, what about since?)...

And labels that had obviously fallen away from their plants.

However on the upper side there were several gorgeous (and very happy plants) including this Grevillea victoriae 'Marshall Olbricht.'

Bright kniphofia, but I don't know which one.

This signage was helpful...

Calycanthus I believe...

Nice foliage combinations...

And of course who doesn't love a blooming crocosmia...

Conifer alert! We're not yet in the official conifer garden (I think this might have been the Monrovia garden) but I loved this one! Pinus strobus 'Contorta' (Contorted White Pine). Not so impressed?

Look closer...

This piece reminded me of those big rebar bougainvillea trees at The Getty Center, only of course there wasn't any bougainvillea.

So here we are in the conifer garden, this Abies concolor 'Candicans' (Colorado White Fir) was positively glowing.

So powdery...

Why would you look at that! Somebody planted some agaves (Agave havardiana) in the conifer garden! I wish I could say it was me doing some guerrilla gardening but no.

This Juniperus pingii (Ping Juniper) was an advertisement for trees to avoid in your garden.

Although it is beautiful look at that mess of litter it drops!

Finally I leave you with another blue conifer, this one Abies concolor 'Blue Cloak'...

Although I liked the open spacing of the needles on the 'Candicans' better, this one had a lovely feathery texture.

These guys will show you the way out...

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

39 comments:

  1. I think that vine is just an ol' Wisteria? Mine produces those fuzzy pods about this time of year... packed with poisonous seeds. I have a Hakea Epiglottis from Xera that seems pretty happy in PDX, it produces tiny curly yellow blooms fit for party favors at any grasshopper's birthday.

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    1. And that is my favorite flower description ever! I hope they've got it on the tag at Xera!

      (thanks for the info)

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    2. Yes, on the wisteria. Mine down in S. Oregon is reflowering at this moment. I didn't know it would do that. A nice surprise. The seed pods are soooo cool!

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    3. Thanks...and indeed reflowering is a bonus!

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  2. My time spent working there (albeit at The Gordon House) seems so long ago now. I barely recognize any of the plants/plantings. Things have certainly grown and changed since Moonstone Properties took over management. My favorite plants used to be the giant table-sized water lilies. Looks like they're gone now.

    Those are Wisteria seed pods too on that vine.

    That structure does look like Robert Irwin's garden installation at The Getty. As soon as I saw it I thought the exact same thing.

    Glad you went down there. I need to go back and visit again soon. Whenever I go though I end up spending too much time eating and shopping in Silverton or else I head of to hike up as Silver Falls.

    Such a great little spot to visit.


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    1. We tripped on down there by birthday weekend. It was a fun outing indeed. I had planned to stop by the Gordon House (since it was closed for a private party last time I was there)...however time got away from us and we needed to get home to let the little dog out.

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    2. We took our dog with us -- do that next time. No cutting your visit short to let the dog out back home.

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    3. We seriously thought about doing that but she'd not so good with the heat, and it was a hot day (back in July).

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  3. I kinda like the pile of needles under the juniper...free mulch! (?)

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    1. As long as you have a large enough garden that you don't try and plant under it! (I like your positive attitude!)

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  4. I love Pinus strobus 'Contorta' and planted one in my former garden across town and I go back to visit it every once in a while. It's one of the things in that garden that hasn't been chopped down. Loree says that there's always an agave if you just look hard enough!

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  5. Someone told me I need to go there, but now I'm not entirely sure I need to. Sorry it was underwhelming - I can see your point about setting the bar a little higher. Especially if the aim is to be a 'botanical' garden - as in pushing the envelope a little. Next week is set aside for random mini day trips. Who knows - maybe we'll end up heading that way...?

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    1. Oh you should definitely go, everyone sees things like this differently and maybe there are parts of it which will really speak to you. Let me know if you do go and what you thought!

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  6. Well there are some interesting plants here. love those blue conifers

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    1. I know you're group (Sue, Kathy, Denise) visited last year when they were in the PNW but I can't remember what they thought of it (hoping one of them chimes in!).

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  7. Your comment about the commercialization of the garden is interesting. I can't recall seeing public gardens with brand-name sponsors but, for all I know, that happening here too. The local botanic garden I visited this week was unkempt, as it has been every time I've been there, and their new "vision" is as focused on revenue generation as it is on the structure of the garden and how it serves the public. The more famous local gardens (e.g. The Getty, Huntington) were established with deep pocket donations but giving to organizations of this type doesn't seem to be popular anymore. Maybe my friend is right and our local garden needs to install a zip line to drum up revenue - I don't know if that would be better or worse than blanketing the place with ads from corporate sponsors.

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    1. There is an interesting article on Wikipedia with more info about how the Oregon Garden started (a partnership between the Oregon Association of Nurseries and the City of Silverton) and it's operating history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Garden). Sadly you're right and the deep pocket donations are few and far between these days. Anything (be it a zip-line or corporate sponsors) that gets people interested in, and excited about, plants and gardening is good thing in my book. However living in such a plant and nursery rich area it's a shame we don't have better.

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  8. Loree, I'm chasing you, apparently. I made my first visit to this place on Wednesday. I agree, the conifer garden is fantastic. If I get organized, I'll do a post soon.

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    1. We were there in July (the 20th) so awhile ago, I've just had too much to post about to do it right away. Look forward to your post!

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  9. I did like the peeling bark on the pine....self mulching is way cool, but, you're right, not for a small garden.

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    1. Gail how would you characterize your garden? Small or large?

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  10. Hi Loree, Neil from Victoria here again. Still enjoying your blog and very jealous considering I live in the Garden City we are so small and have so few really good nurseries here; there are a few. The Hakea is quite hardy, there is one in the Australian section of UBC Botanical Gardens in Vancouver,its been there for years. Smallish flowers, can't recall the colour could be yellowish. The last time I saw it it was about 6x6 feet, very drought tolerant. I've always wanted one so good look and keep us 'posted' :-)

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    1. Thank you for the info Neil and I'll definitely keep you posted. I guess I also need to go back through my pictures from the UBC and see if I saw the Hakea there and have just forgotten about it!

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  11. Oregon has a lot to boast about when it comes to horticulture. There are several species that I love and will only buy from your local nurseries. The photos of your diversity where amazing, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Charlie.

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  12. From what you show, it does remind me of what a big box store or mega-garden-center-to-the-masses might do...starting with the mega lodgepole entry. Or most Abq nurseries if they had the land, including almost the same plants, except olives or Australian plants...those would become Austrian plants. For what your area has to offer in nurseries and various gardens, this pales, even if well-cared-for.

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    1. I still can't get used to your new "name"...

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  13. Great pics Loree! As for your opening line that's why we're so looking forward to visiting Portland next year (fingers crossed) is because of the fab selection of gardens and climate being so similar to here. Can't wait!

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    1. And neither can I!!! (you got my email about the dates right?) Of course on the down side will be the difficulty involved in taking plants home...

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  14. Yes, we did go there last year but we stayed at the resort. As a package it was really nice because guests at the resort have access to the garden from sunrise to sunset which was a few hours before and after it closed to the public. Accomodations included breakfast served in a dining room overlooking a spectacular wide view of the garden.

    We could take a quick stroll after breakfast, run out to tour other gardens during the day then come back and stroll again before dinner. Until now I hadn't actually given the garden much thought but I didn't take many pictures. Given the opportunity I would stay there again though.

    My blog about it is here: http://idyllhaven.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-oregon-garden-and-resort.html

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    1. That ability to get out and wander the garden would be a definite plus. I know when I travel I sometimes miss having a nice area nearby to walk in. Thanks for including the link Sue!

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  15. I'm visiting Portland next week and liked your list of places to visit...are there any other must sees for another plant freak?!

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    1. Check out this list: http://plantsomethingoregon.com/ (you have to click on "gardens" but there's a pretty good list of public gardens there.

      Also some of my other visits are here: http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/p/public-gardens-and-parks-ive-visited.html (page down to Oregon)

      And you simply must visit Cistus Nursery (cistus.com) and Xera Plants (http://xeraplants.com)

      Have fun!

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  16. I love the Oregon Garden, Loree, that conifer collection wows me every time.I'm also quite partial to the border near the entry building, I thought that was really well done.My friends and I actually stayed at the resort there-the rooms were huge, with little patios and the grounds were landscaped very nicely. I am hoping to tack a return visit there on the one end or other of Fling.I think was all have different styles that speak to us, though I have to say my fondness for any and all garden styles has lead to the lack of 'flow' in many parts of my own garden!

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    1. Oh my, you and me both! (my fondness for any and all garden styles has lead to the lack of 'flow' in many parts of my own garden).

      We will certainly provide The Oregon Garden Resort info as a possibility for people wanting to extend their stay in Portland pre or post Fling, it's a natural!

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  17. What the Oregon Garden needs is a benefactor on the order of Phil Knight with a passion for plants to match his for football. Sadly, the OAN didn't have the deep pockets to pull off the vision thing. That said, there are some pockets of wonderfulness, the conifer garden being the best example.
    I find it well worth visiting every few years...and the Frank Lloyd Wright house is a treasure.

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    1. Indeed...Phil are you listening!?

      I have yet to step foot inside The Gordon House...next time.

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  18. I think Ricki is right. The Oregon Garden people need someone with a passion for plants--and deep pockets. I enjoyed the stroll through the gardens a few years ago but you're right. There isn't a lot of the unusual. We need to see more exotics and there needs to be a lot more selection in the plant sales area.

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