Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A walk at the Leach Botanical Garden

Back on October 23rd I took advantage of a beautiful day and paid a visit to Leach Botanical Gardens. My first visit was back in 2010, I was excited to become reacquainted.

Leach Botanical Gardens is set on nearly 17 acres in Southeast Portland. The former estate of John and Lilla Leach, it opened to the public in 1983 - through a partnership between Leach Garden Friends and Portland Parks and Recreation.

I remember taking nearly this same photo on my first visit. What an excellent illustration of why, if you can, you should be growing an Arctostaphylos (Manzanita). That bark!

You can see that same Manzanita in the distance here. I've walked further along the trail and turned back. The roof on the left is part of the home/gift shop complex, it's the plantings up near the roof that I'm currently interested in.

There were no labels that I could see, so I can't tell you which Agave these are.

This one, no problem. It's an unusual one to see planted out here in Portland, I grew A. toumeyana in the ground for a few years but a particularly wet and cold winter did it in.

At first glance it looks like that huge sloped roof would drain right into this planting bed. Of course there's a gutter that carries the rain away.

Dasylirion wheeleri I presume.

Further along the path you can look down on a small patio off the kitchen. The tree fern on the far right is a Balantium antarcticum, the fern just to it's left is a Woodwardia radicans.

Later when I was down in that patio area a couple scouting wedding locations was being toured through. As long as the weather cooperated this would be a lovely venue for a wedding.

Further up the winding trail...

This is interesting! A newish planting of Pachystegia insignis (Marlborough Rock Daisy). I have one a little bigger than these, from Xera Plants (they've got an impressive specimen growing at their retail nursery).

I've not planted mine out, due to concerns about it's hardiness. I think next spring I will.

The supposedly Xeric plantings left a lot to be desired.

Besides the Yucca there wasn't really anything to see.

But when I turned around I saw this. It was breathtaking in person, the leaves lit by a bit of sun, the tall blue conifer, it doesn't translate so well in a photo.

There were a few of these in the upper garden. Perhaps at one time it was fenced?

In an out-of-the-way corner a large area is given over to propagation, no doubt for both the gardens and the spring plant sale.

It was only after wandering though, snapping photos, that I saw the sign that says "STAFF ONLY"...oh well.

Several of the trough planters were empty, I wonder who tends them?

This section is definitely new since I first visited. Too bad the paths aren't graveled, it would look so much nicer.

More Agaves!

This one's acting as host to a Euphorbia seedling.

Cheilanthes intertexta (Myriopteris intertexta), native to rocky habitats in parts of southern Oregon and western Nevada.

There is no shortage of tall trees here.

Or big Rhododendrons.

Even a few Cyclamen.

Now I've wandered completely though the upper garden (north of the home) and I'm in the lower garden, along Johnson Creek (there is a trail map here, if you're interested).

Adiantum aleuticum (western maidenhair fern)


Dangerous (on a trail), but beautiful.

Looking up towards the house.

And now on the wrap-around balcony of the house.

In front of the home is a small Bamboo grove with many of the canes marked, like this...

Dense vertical plantings.

No visit to Leach would be complete without walking to the south side of the creek and visiting the stone cabin and fireplace.

The Leachs spent summers here after buying the property, before the main home was completed in 1936.

Imagine lively dinners and discussions at this little outdoor table.

I need to visit here more than once every five years...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. What a lovely woodland garden! I love the little curly stems on the Cyclamen flowers.

    1. Me too (the curls)...much more than the flowers actually.

  2. Love that curvy tree in the lower garden (4 photos before "seep") -- beautiful photo! Was there any evidence of water oozing from the ground in that seep? I would not uglify my bamboo plantings with signs on each noteworthy culm, but I appreciate their excitement and eagerness to share it. :)

    Love the stone cabin -- wish I could see inside!

    1. I looked for oozing water near that sign, it was the only thing that made sense, but couldn't find any. It had been fairly dry though.

      Re: the cabin, I walked (climbed) around back and ended up in a place where I could see in through some windows. I realized I was kind of holding my breath and a little nervous about what I might see inside (it suddenly felt very creepy out there in the woods by myself)...thankfully just an empty room (or was it...I couldn't see into the shadows in the corner...).

  3. A great place to visit! Seems like the experience of the whole garden is the thing here rather than individual and unusual plants. Portland sure has it's share of nice estate gardens. The bamboo culms look like they're participating in some sort of professional development class or maybe a singles mixer. The tags made me smile.

    1. Yes, you described it well - "the experience of the whole garden is the thing"...a bamboo singles mixer...ha!

  4. What a lovely garden! I have added it to my list of places to visit next time we are in OR. I have tried to grow Manzanita here but no luck....just to humid and wet I think. It grows wild in the back country of San Diego where i used to live. I love the bark. I can grow fern here but not familiar with the western maiden fern. What a lovely place to have called home! I am glad it is being persevered.

    1. It's fun to watch the Manazanita come and go (and change their leaves) as you travel up and down the West Coast, it's a beauty!

  5. I'm ashamed to say I've only ever visited once, and that was many years ago. That's a gorgeous Arcto you photographed, and seemingly shows that they will tolerate a bit of shade once established. Thanks for the reminder of this little garden gem in Portland.

  6. It reminds me a bit of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - large trees and on the wild side, with agaves.

    1. Well...I'd much rather be able to hop on over the Santa Barbara BG for a quick visit, but I know what you mean.

  7. I'll go with you if you want to visit again soon! The only gardens I've visited in Portland are Lan Su and the Japanese Garden. I have a lot of catching up to do. Leach came onto my radar first because of the rhododendrons, but the entire garden looks beautiful. That big Cedrus atlantica is mesmerizing. That seep may only flower beneath the surface, or it may be dry after this summer.

    1. Yes you do! But since those are both closed for months perhaps that will give you a push to visit the others. I'd love to go back soon!

  8. What a wonderful local resource. I love the stone cabin. Thanks for the tour!

    1. One of many locations we talked about for the Portland Fling...it (obviously) didn't make the cut.

  9. I've never been (hangs head in shame).


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