Thursday, December 14, 2017

A pony adventure, to the Bishop's Close

I've probably mentioned it before, but our dog Lila has a few nicknames, the one that gets used most often is Pony. As in "I've always wanted a pony and now I have one." Back when she could hear, the words "Pony adventure" would send her into a frenzy — much like other dogs when you ask them if they want to go to the park or on a walk. Neither of those activities ever excited her but when you asked if she wanted to go on a Pony adventure then you could not get in the car fast enough.

Sunshine is another of her favorite things so our recent stretch of dry sunny days had me thinking of a suitable Pony adventure. The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop's Close was the first thing that came to mind, mainly because I hadn't been there in awhile and I knew they didn't mind dogs as long as they are leashed.

Cyperus involucratus, in December, in Portland, Oregon. Yes please.

I believe the PK on the weather vane refers to Peter Kerr, he and his wife Laurie lived here and created these gardens. A condensed version of the history of the garden from their website..."The Garden of the Bishop’s Close, known as Elk Rock, was created over a period of many years by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Kerr. Mr. Kerr was a Scot who came to Portland in 1888 and started a grain business with two partners. The three bachelors formed the Cliff Cottage Club on land on above the Willamette River known as Elk Rock in the early 1890’s and lived in the Cottage for several years before marriages left Peter Kerr as the sole occupant. Peter Kerr married Laurie King in 1905 and settled her in Cliff Cottage.

"After the births of two daughters, Anne and Jane, construction of a larger house was started in 1914.  The new house was sited by John Olmsted, of the well-known Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects firm, to take advantage of the view of Mt. Hood. Construction of the house took two years to complete. When the house was finished, Kerr, an ardent amateur gardener, started on his long cherished plans for an extensive garden. Mrs. Kerr was one of Portland’s early championship golfers and, while not a gardener herself, she encouraged her husband in the creation of one of the great gardens of the Northwest."

"In 1957, when Mr. Kerr died at the age of ninety-five, the house and garden were given by his daughters, Anne McDonald and Jane Platt, to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon together with an endowment for the care and maintenance of the garden, with the stipulation that the garden be opened to visitors. Since 1986 the garden has been managed by a Garden Committee. In 1994 the Elk Rock Garden Foundation and the Friends of Elk Rock Garden Foundation were formed to protect, preserve and perpetuate this wonderful garden."

Lila is ready to investigate...

This old Wisteria has been a source of fascination for me since I first saw it in 2013.

There's the view of Mt. Hood.

No less beautiful — maybe just a little less grand — are the moss and ferns that pop up around the property.

That's a lot of lawn, but such was the style back in the day (and suitable if you were a golfer).

Our dry sunny skies brought strong winds. There were branches large and small across the lawn and pathways. I couldn't help but pick up a couple of small ones.

The Epimedium patch is quite large.

This was a head scratcher.

I don't remember seeing it before. And no, I didn't try turning the spigot. It didn't move when I gently nudged it, so it's definitely attached to something.

Mulch of Metasequoia needles (leaves?)

It was so deep I decided against climbing those stairs with a small, elderly, dog.

Instead we retraced our steps on the pathway.

Beautiful — what a location for a service.

Honestly I was expecting this Rhododendron (sinogrande?) to be larger now. It must be struggling here.

Stewartia pseudocamellia, one must pay their respects every visit, yes, this includes rubbing the bark.

There's an entire world in that moss.

Araucaria araucana

Trough gardens from the closed Berry Botanic Garden.

And a small part of a huge Taiwania cryptomerioides, or Coffin Tree — Lila for scale.

So much moss!

Another couple of months and this area will be scented with blooming Hamamelis.

Looking down at the former house and current parking area.

Of course the squiggly branches of Wisteria covered with moss and ferns caught my eye.

Oh and the hanging pods!

Back down at parking-lot level I had to investigate further.

Love the Wisteria pods.

What a lovely place to wander for an hour or so...

Weather Diary, Dec 13: Hi 46, Low 29/ Precip 0

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


  1. Well, I'm glad that even if she can't hear the words "pony adventure" at least your "pony" is not too old to enjoy going on this one. What a lovely ramble you had. That shot of the mossy boulders lining the path is great! And the ferns hanging under the concrete banister are just wonderful.

    1. I try to be aware that trips in the car too often mean the Vet or the dog hotel. It's important to work in fun every now and then!

  2. Thanks for taking us along on Lila's pony adventure! It's a lovely property, beautifully sited, and I hope there was as much for Lila to sniff as there was for you to photograph.

    1. Oh boy yes, she definitely found a lot of reports left behind by others.

  3. Looks like you and Lila found lots to enjoy on this pony adventure! It's nice that part of the BBG lives on in this garden. Love all that moss!

  4. Lila is down there where she can really appreciate all that moss. Lucky girl.

    1. The moss did get a lot of attention from both of us.

  5. You have the best pony! Looks like you both enjoyed the adventure. What a fabulous place. So much to take in and love.

  6. Loved the colonized wisteria and all the moss and ferns, and wow, killer view!

    1. The patina of age and the view only money can provide...

  7. That wisteria is the poster child for how and where to site that vine so it doesn't take your house down. Don't think I've ever seen one so massive. And what I wouldn't give to have a witch hazel surrounded by a boxwood hedge. Just lovely.

    1. Someday I'll make it over to visit at the right time to see the Wisteria in bloom...

  8. I've been to this garden a few times but never in winter-it's pretty in it's mossy winter garb !

  9. What a lovely Pony-adventure! I confess, I have never been to Bishops Close... About time I get my priorities straight, I think!


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