Monday, August 31, 2020

Botanical Garden roadtrip to Kalama, WA...

What, you didn't know there was a botanical garden in Kalama, Washington? That's probably because it's cleverly disguised as a McMenamins hotel and restaurant, Kalama Harbor Lodge.

Okay in all seriousness. I needed to get out on the road, even if it was just a 45 minute drive north on I-5. I knew it would do my head good, and since I had just sent someone a photo I took of an agave at this property last year, well, it was on my mind. Let's have a look around...

Great combo of Woodwardia unigemmata and Schefflera taiwaniana.

This is perhaps the only plant in the collection that looks better in my garden than it does here, Magnolia macrophylla.

Perhaps the wind is a little too much for it?

I've no clue which bamboo this is...

But it's pretty fabulous.

As are the Melianthus major blooms! Wow...

I used to grow this beauty for the foliage.

But I did get flowers one year, that was memorable.

This display however was over-the-top good.

Yucca linearifolia, I believe.

Two of them!

Another wowsa moment, look at those beschorneria!

Those are some seriously sturdy boom stalks.

Since I last visited the rocky slope down to the river's edge has been replaced by a beach, I believe the city's work, not McMenamins. I rather like it, although it does mean the garden can be walked through, which is never a good thing.

I find the mix of plants to be quite exciting. So many spiky things! It's going to be amazing to watch them grow in.

The beach had a view visitors the morning I was there, I bet on a hot summer day—in non-COVID times—it could get quite packed.

Ah, the Agave americana clump I came to see is still there, and looking good. 

I spotted this pup, off to the left, but completely missed one that's growing up through a seam in the asphalt pathway, I heard about it via Instagram when I was back home.


The (somewhat unlikely) success of the Agave americana seems to have inspired the McMenamins gardeners, there were so many more agaves! I eventually went around to the other side of the planting to see if I could identify these three, no luck.

Agave ovatifolia, I believe. This one should quickly turn into a monster here (yay).

These blend in so it's kind of hard to tell, but that's at least seven small clumps of Agave bracteosa. 

Here's one that's been in place for awhile.

There were people dining just out of frame, so I tried to be sensitive in my photo taking. The tall clump of grass like leaves on the left is Aloe cooperi, I didn't see any blooms, but then I also couldn't see the far side.

Wow, in addition to multiple new agaves they've also planted a saguaro! Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro' that is.

Now I'm down on the beach-side, scoping out more agaves. Agave parryi...

More Agave bracteosa

Taking this shot I noticed the umbrellas on the roof and later learned there's a near-rooftop bar "with expansive views of the Columbia"... I might have to check that out in person someday.

Another A. ovatifolia.

As is this, but I already shot this one from up on the pathway.

Here is one of the three I was unsure about. It's lovely, but just doesn't have any identifiable characteristics for me.

Maybe Agave chrysantha?

I couldn't resist, another image of the A. americana clump.

And another group of Agave parryi.

As I was leaving I spotted this bunch of juicy berries...yum.

And this! There are a few huge gunnera around the parking lot, in the run-off bioswales. This paring however is pretty genius. Huge leaves, meet tiny leaves.

The tiny leaves belonging to Sophora prostrata 'Little Baby'.

Weather Diary, Aug 30: Hi 77, Low 51/ Precip 0 

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Never heard of Kalama, let alone its botanical garden! The views are spectacular, and an overcast day is just perfect for the beach. The visit had to have charged your batteries.
    I hope hope folks will respect the roped beds and not cut through them, but I wonder how long the sand and mulch will remain separated... "Wissel's Saguaro' knock my socks off, I'm a big fan. What's growing just over the Woodwardia unigemmata? (pic 3).

    1. The McMenamins there only opened a couple of years ago, it's been very popular with the locals! I think the plant you're asking about is a Nandina domestica 'Filamentosa'.

  2. The gardens look great and some interesting new plantings. I am sure the 'spiky-ness' will deter would be garden trespassers. Nice to get out as who would have thought we would still be stuck at home after 6 months.

    1. It was a good (safe) adventure, and I hope you're right about the spikyness.

  3. Road trips do much to rejuvenate body and soul, you picked a great destination, Loree. Big kudos to the gardeners there. 'Wissel's Saguaro' is pretty awesome.

    1. I planted a small 'Wissel's Saguaro' this spring, I can't wait for it to start growing arms!

  4. McMenamins is to be commended for creating interesting gardens around all its properties. I'd totally reserve a room there where I ever to find myself anywhere up Kalama way. I love the Gunnera-Sophora combination.

    1. They really go above and beyond Kris, I am consistently impressed.

  5. What terrific plantings. And I don't think I've ever seen an image of the Melianthus major flowers. What drama queens. A couple of years ago I talked to our local conifer nursery and he said not to even try 'Wissel's Saguaro' here. It is such a wonderful form that I am still disappointed.

  6. The combination of lush green and spiky plants look awesome. I wonder how the A. bracteosa and others will do in the sandy soil near the edge of the garden? Some follow up pics in the coming years would be interesting.


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