Monday, November 9, 2020

Taco Time agaves...

In this year without anything resembling normalcy, Andrew and I have—like most people—really missed our vacation getaways. We vacation well together, whether it's a quick trip to Seattle or an over-seas adventure exploring London. We finally got away at the end of October with a 3-night COVID-safe adventure in Hood River, Oregon. We took the long-way round to get there—around the back side of Mt Hood—so it was 2-hour trek, as opposed to the quick 1-hour direct route. That way it seemed more like a real get-away.

I've got some great (I think) shots of our nature adventures, but today I'm sharing the agaves I discovered at Taco Time, in The Dalles, Oregon. 

For those of you that don't know The Dalles, it's about 80 miles east of Portland, on the Columbia River. Taco Time is a fast-food restaurant chain specializing in Mexican food, founded in Eugene, OR, in 1960.

As for us, we'd been out adventuring all day and were headed back to our hotel in Hood River when we decided to swing by Starbucks in The Dalles on our way—thank god! Taco Time was right across the street. That's when I remembered a long ago blog commenter had tipped me off to these exotic plantings, I just hadn't made it to see them, until now. I did a little digging on the history of the location. Here's an image of the restaurant under remodel in late 2018...

...and here's May of 2012. Oh my!

This restaurant has a bit of a storied history. As part of a plot by the Baghwan Shree Ranjnees in the mid-1980's, the salsa bar was contaminated with salmonella in an attempt to poison residents and thus suppress an important local vote. "The attack on The Dalles Taco Time salsa bar and nine other restaurants remains the first, largest, and worst bioterrorism attack in the US" (source). 

We didn't go inside so I can't tell you if the salsa bar is still open. I can however report there is a pretty amazing collection of yucca and agaves, for example this grouping, surrounded by parking lot on the left and drive-thru on the right.

I think this, and the next one, are both Agave parryi.

Maybe conglomeration of Agave 'Blue Glow'?

I'm guessing Agave 'Mr. Ripple'...

And of course, Yucca rostrata.

Not every plant is going to be successful.

An interestingly malformed Agave 'Blue Glow'...complete with straw accessory.

One last look at the drive-thru island...

And we head over to the strip along the parking lot and street.

Trachycarpus of some sort...

And a nice little yucca and agave planting—with rocks so the agaves can't be smashed by big trucks cutting the exit a bit close.

As I was walking around taking photos my mind was trying to pin down what the climate here is like. I knew it was drier than Portland (14" rain annually where as Portland gets 36") but I wasn't sure how cold their winters were. Here's what I found online: "The area receives measurable snowfall virtually every year, but the snow totals fluctuate dramatically from one year to the next; some seasons see only one or two brief light snow events while others get major snowstorms and cumulative totals of 20 inches (0.51 m) or more....Average winter temperatures are only about 3 to 5 °F (1.7 to 2.8 °C) colder than in cities such as Portland and Seattle, and temperatures below 0 °F or −17.8 °C are very rare, but not unheard of – historically occurring on three mornings out of every five winters, but only once since February 1996." (source) So a little colder, but what would really get me is the wind. It's in the Columbia River Gorge after all, a natural wind tunnel.

Now I've walked to the front of the restaurant on the main street.

This planting is next to the small outdoor eating area.

Another 'Mr. Ripple' perhaps?

The outdoor tables are behind that short wall.

And framing the drive through is this narrow planting.

I thought this agave had some 'ovatifolia' overtones, but those I consulted online said no, it's an Agave parryi, although some offered that it might be an A. 'havardiana'.
The landscape fabric in this shot had me scratching my head. Is it under all the mulch?
Not sure of the ID on this beauty. Although I see it's either twins, or a mama and baby. 
As a commenter said when I posted a photo from this collection on Instagram: "Isn't it great to encounter what should otherwise be a mundane commercial landscape only to see that clearly some plant lover was involved? Maybe it just says something about the times we live in, but it gives one hope."
It certainly gave me hope. I mean it might not be the most imaginative planting as far as overall design, but it's pushing the edge of what one expects to see at a fast food restaurant in The Dalles, Oregon—and hopefully inspiring those who see it to think differently about the possibilities. I think it could even be called #fearlessgardening...

Weather Diary, Nov 8: Hi 47, Low 31/ Precip 0 

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


  1. I would love to know who's responsible for the landscaping. This is truly extraordinary for a fast-food joint. I wish other establishments would follow suit!

    I couldn't believe it when you said this was the Taco Time that featured in the Baghwan Shree Ranjneesh plot! We're in the middle of watching Wild Wild Country on Netflix!

    1. We made it part way through that series, it felt like they did their best to stretch it wwaaayyyy out. Eventually we just had to stop.

  2. I'd almost forgotten about that poisoning plot. Kudos to the restaurant chain on both surviving that experience and having the sense to replace their boring junipers with much more interesting plants. I noted that when one of our own local Mexican-themed restaurants recently remodeled, they also replaced their landscaping with succulents and other drought tolerant plants.

    1. It just makes sense, especially in your climate.

  3. A Mexican restaurant with "south-of-the-border" landscaping is not only appropriate, but also a clean, fresh, water-wise look. I hope for less "accessories" as time goes on.

    1. Sadly people litter, there's just no denying it. Then add in lots of wind and these plants are bound to catch the debris. I hope the maintenance crew has long tweezers.

  4. Love it. Glad you found and shared. Cheers

  5. Those are some nice agaves. I agree about being encouraged about surprising landscaping displays in unexpected places. I'm glad you had a pleasant getaway. We are overdue for are a good role model. ;-)

    1. Oh you definitely need a safe little getaway Beth, do it!


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