Yes, you've probably figured out I am a huge fan of McMenamins restaurants and hotels for the outstanding gardens around their properties. Instead of lawn and foundation plantings they spend money on beautiful and unusual plants, and hire knowledgeable and skilled people to care for them. One of those people, my friend Riz Reyes, is the master of the garden domain at McMenamins Anderson School, in Bothell, WA.
Anderson School (re)opened as a McMenamins in 2015 (it had previously been a Jr. High) and I've been dying to get up there and see it for myself. That finally happened on November 3rd. I'd timed my leaving Portland so I could trek the additional distance north from Seattle, little did I know a freak snowfall would slow my travels at Olympia, WA and again through Tacoma. I pulled into the parking lot late, but with two goals: see the "desert garden" and meet up with Riz. The fist one happened immediately.
And I was instantly smitten. When Peter (the Outlaw) visited in July this Agave Ovatifolia (Whale's Tongue Agave) was caged under the wine barrel rings, it's since been freed. Grown too big I'm guessing.
Can you even?
This means you Bozo!
Creative reuse is a theme at McMenamins and the wine barrel rings are definitely a successful decorative touch, I think. Spot the trio of 4" pots waiting to be planted?
A bit of Portland (Xera Plants) 200 miles north.
Notice the rain turning to sleet, verging on snow? I was not dressed for this kind of weather and was not entertained. Still I pushed on. Must see the garden!...
The Colletia was a highlight.
The thorns are normally the draw, for me at least. But the flowers were just so numerous you couldn't help but be transfixed.
Eryngium leavenworthii, gotta be painted that color right?
Nope, that's natural.
I should apologize for the fact these photos aren't really progressing through the desert garden in any sort of logical way.
I had a sort of frantic energy as I walked about and the snow/sleet/ice became heavier.
I wanted to see it all, but a freak winter storm can quickly turn a normal commute into complete gridlock in Western Washington/Oregon.
Part of me kept saying "but it's only early November, that can't possibly happen" and part of me kept thinking "you don't want to be stranded in Bothell when you're due back down in Seattle!"...
I kept snapping pictures...
I finally broke away from this bit of loveliness and toured the rest of the campus (more tomorrow), while simultaneously texting to meet up with Riz. Finally, when my fingers and toes were frozen, I gave up and met him inside the "North Shore Lagoon" — for a glass of wine (I had a glass of wine, Riz abstained) and a chat about what he'd created.
A little over an hour later we emerged to find the sleet/snow mixture had stopped, but many of the plants had a thin coat of ice on them.
If this was all there was to see here at Anderson School I would be impressed, but there's so much more to see, come back tomorrow for a look at the other gardens. Oh and I got back to Seattle just fine, no nightmare commute.
Weather Diary, Nov 29: Hi 52, Low 37/ Precip 0
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