Friday, March 17, 2017

My Winter Walk-Off, 2017 Style — downtown Portland

By now I'm sure many of you recognize the term "Winter Walk-Off" — but just in case here's the low-down: "leave the house, and share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home (if you want to drive to your walk destination that's OK too). Your post does not have to be about gardening or a travelogue (though I do like both), unless you want it to be. Maybe instead you will find some unusual patterns, interesting shadows, signs of spring, a favorite restaurant or shop, questionable landscaping, or local eyesores. Whatever, just keep your eyes and mind open, be creative, and have fun, but don't show anything from your own garden." The annual "Winter Walk-Off" is something Les (of A Tidewater Gardener) has hosted for several years now.

I was a little concerned that I wasn't going to be able to post to the walk-off this year, our non-stop rain has been so drastic that I wasn't willing to spare a dry minute to go for a walk. Instead I wanted to spend it working in my garden. However, due to issues with my new iPad, I found myself downtown earlier this week with a few dry minutes to spare!  See that building with the green-roof? That's the Portland Apple store, my destination. I'm photographing it from the parking garage across the street.

Once on the ground I took a right and headed toward the Willamette River, which divides Portland into west and east. I live on the east-side and downtown is on the west-side.

Portland is fancy enough to rate a Tiffany's, who knew?

Downtown Portland is studded with drinking fountains known as Benson Bubblers. Usually these are 4-bowl fountains, although this article does include the single bowls (as shown here) as being part of the Benson program.

I've happened by (and photographed) this empty courtyard before. It certainly looks like things should be happening here...

Lights, benches, planters.

The Aucuba are looking fabulous.

We inherited a couple of Pieris, most mid-century homes in Portland have them as foundation plantings. Ours our long gone (intentionally), but I had to stop and appreciate this one in full bloom.

Oh The Lotus! So much history. Andrew and I had cocktails here a couple of times when he was showing at an art gallery just around the corner. Now it's closed and maybe slated to be torn down.

Walking on, I came to the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse. There were many inscriptions on the sides of the building, this one seemed particularly apt for our current situation.

Across the street are Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square, which became ground zero for Occupy Portland in 2011. Some of you may remember the image of a young lady (Liz Nichols) getting a pepper spray to the face. It's much quieter there now.

And there are Hellebores!

Ah, who knew?

Could it possibly be a Valentine's day left-over?

The Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building.

With Lagerstroemia (aka Crepe Myrtle).

Did we know how good we had it, back then?

The netting seems to be failing. Then again we have had the most miserable of winter conditions we've had to deal with for something like 30 years, everything's kind of failing at this point.

That's a happy little patch of green.

Moving on...every time I see big cement pipes like those I think what great planters they would make, tipped on end and planted with some trailing vine. If only!

Sad Phormium. Do they really think it's going to come back and look good?

We've finally made it to the river. It's extremely high (rain rain rain) and very muddy.

Of course you can't really see how muddy, but trust me.

That big planting circle, and one off in the distance, are our destinations.

The bamboo is certainly happy.

As are the Hellebores, I'm a little surprised and quite happy that they haven't been trashed by those who don't like nice things.

Surely I've noticed the tree on the right before? Nevertheless it's new to me now. Magnolia laevifolia, a favorite.

Love those cinnamon buds.

That's the Hawthorne Bridge in the background, Portland has 12 bridges that cross the Willamette River (that number includes a railroad bridge and a bridge closed to cars — pedestrian, bike and mass transit only).

Our ground is over-saturated, landslides and urban flooding are frequent issues right now.

The next planting circle...

Those tall palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) look to have seeded around a bit.

More Hellebores! (I never tire of them, do you?)

My friend, and fellow blogger, Lance Wright (Garden Riots) used to maintain these plantings as well as many others around the city. I asked him for ID on this "grass" and he says it's Carex oshimensis 'Evergold', which has reverted to "evergreen".

The blooms are fabulous!

The Daphne blooms and foliage seem quite at home mixed in with Yucca 'Color Guard'.

Lance also ID'd the blooming Magnolia, it's M. maudiae. I wish you could smell its lovely fragrance.

I want this tree in my garden!

A nice patch of Libertia, pretty much unfazed by our horrid winter.

A final glance before heading back for my "Apple" appointment...

Wait, we must pause to appreciate the blooming Camellia in the next block.

And here we are back at the far corner of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. This post is going to wrap up soon, I promise!

But first I had to share this eyesore (IMHO). Our Portland Building, by Michael Graves. We'll see more of it in just a bit, don't you worry.

Yes it's the Federal Building again, from across Terry Schrunk Plaza.

Portland's City Hall.

And the base of the Portland Building. That's Portlandia, she's made of copper.

The actual entrance is rather nondescript, and the building itself has turned into quite the money pit.

This is now a coffee shop, but I think it was once a transit stop. There may be another that's a flower shop. I'm certain I've read history on these structures and wish I could track it down now.

Well then, that was a nice walk. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Now here we are, at the Apple store and I need to get my iPad issues fixed. Ciao!

Weather Diary, March 16th: Hi 55, Low 37/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I'm having the same priority-setting issues with doing my winter walk-off post too. This was very interesting, I love seeing your images of the big buildings in Portland. That Portland Building is...hmm....interesting. Kind of "Man in the High Castle' Art Deco.

    1. I don't know if anyone who really loves the Portland Building. Oh wait, yes I do. I'm married to him...

  2. Oh, I enjoyed that WWO! I love cities nearly as much as gardens, some days maybe more, and both get that sensory buzz going. I should do one in downtown LA -- you've inspired me.

  3. Years ago, I stumbled upon a maker of concrete pipes in Tacoma and they'd sell them to the public. Bet there's a maker in Portland. Just think those upended pipes could replace the trees in your parking strips. Portland really has beautiful municipal gardens. Interesting to read about the Portland Building - Forty years old, has already been remodeled, needs major surgery? Yikes. LOVE the wise crack brick!

    1. Oh my parking strip, now you're don't think the city would notice do you?

  4. What a good idea , the walk off, never heard of it. Really funny and interesting. Might try it on instagram...

  5. Wait, wait, wait. We're just ignoring the feather palm in the background of the Magnolia laevifolia? I'm guessing Butia? Well, not that I'd chance it in my colder garden, anyway. My young Magnolia maudiae were fried this winter, but one looks to have mostly leaf damage and I think the second will come back from the ground. I planted a Magnolia nitida several years ago that died to the ground and came back. It wasn't even fazed this winter, so I'm hopeful maudiae will be the same in future winters.

    1. Good eye! It does look Butia-like.

    2. Ignoring...or leaving little special prize for those who look closely...???

  6. Barbara H.March 17, 2017

    Yes, the coffee shop was a bus shelter. The transit mall, which I believe is no more, was open only to buses and light rail, maybe taxis too. After I moved away they opened it back up to auto traffic. The sides were open but the curved ends were in place. Quite a few people could gather there for shelter while waiting for the bus. I'm glad it has been re-purposed.

    1. Yes! Thank you Barbara, you're a much better Portland historian than I am.

  7. Winter wallop notwithstanding, Portland is a beautiful city. I fell in love with it during a brief business trip many years ago and have never entirely given up the idea of moving there. Thanks for giving me another look!

  8. Lots of great buildings! In Wisconsin, all drinking fountains are called bubblers, supposedly a regionalism not used elsewhere.

  9. I enjoyed your Walk-Off, Loree, and I am sorry your winter has been so miserable. The pictures certainly convey the gray and wet. The Portland Building is not my favorite with its blue bows holding fat strands of ginger hair. However, that Federal building is quite handsome. Our own Federal building in Norfolk had a plaque on it about "Jimmy" Carter, not James. It was once clad in bright orange brick mixed with painted orange steel. After a remodel it is now a more sedate white and green. Your city hall is a handsome building too. Ours, not so much.

    I hope you weather will turn soon, and you get those sunny days in the garden you want. Thanks for joining me.

    1. I loved your FB description of the Portland Building, "cartoonish" that is exactly what the style says to me. Thank you for the inspiration, once again. And yes...sunny days! Please!

  10. I have been to Portland for brief visits that were too short. Thank YOU for a great walk, the photos, text, and whimsy are just what I needed on a sorta-Portland day on the other coast, far coast, the Eastern Shore of VA, on Chincoteague, a barrier island where it was gloriously sunny yesterday & dreary & grey today. You made it less so, thanks to your spirit!

    1. Ah, thanks for commenting. It's always nice to hear that anonymous people out there enjoy what I post. It truly makes my day!

  11. Thanks for my needed dose of gray and cool - another 84/47 here! There is so much to see there, I'll limit comments to the amazing hellebores and all that foliage in the circle planters. I think I like that federal building...

    1. The Federal Building is a good one, I think. Glad to share the grey and cool. There's more today if you need it...I'm happy to send it your way.

  12. I love your walk around Portland Loree! It's brought back happy memories of a trip downtown with Victoria during the Fling. We went to the Apple Store and I took photos of the benches across the street for my other blog. I wish I'd known about the green roof at the time... another of my interests along with benches ;) Thanks too for the discovery of Les's meme - I'd unknowingly done something which fits last month, so I've added my contribution :) I hope your garden is recovering from the relatively harsh winter Portland's experienced this time around.


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