Friday, January 28, 2022

A trio of Portland garden drive-bys

This first garden sighting happened back in mid-December, the same day I drove by Minh's spiky wonderland. The combo of the large Echium wildpretii and the gorgeous arctostaphylos are what caught my eye, and of course the deflated pair of echium on the far right.

Once I parked and walked closer, I also saw the agave on the front porch and a couple other Echium wildpretii. A plant-palette I approve of!

This large one is a super-beauty!

I wonder if this pair bloomed earlier in the year and the short stalks are all that remain?

This one looks nipped by cold.

Super-spiky opuntia! And another well-cared for arctostaphylos.

I like the rusty wheel/gear/reel (whatever it is) and wire.

Looks like maybe a Yucca rostrata tucked back there?

And a different kind of echium, maybe E. pininana?

Another day (but equally nice blue sky) and I happened by a house I've visited before, the Latham's. 

The last time I drove by was August of 2020 (here), I wondered then if the large variegated Agave americana would stay outside over the winter, and since it was January 9th when I took these photos I guess the answer is yes!

The wall treatment is looking great, this was Dale's answer to a blank wall that was frequently hit with graffiti. 

More agaves!

The house next door is still rather ran-down, but it's opuntia patch is doing well.

A few more shots of the sculptural Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone)... 

And the agaves...

Did you do a double-take at the large form climbing out of the shrubs (above)? It's what remains of some former tree trunk, but really does look like a creature doesn't it?

Now proof that Portland tends towards overcast days in the winter months! I stopped to photograph this garden because of the dedication to repetition. Well, and there are agaves.

Agave ovatifolia that is.

This sign sent me off to look for summertime images of the garden and I was not disappointed, it's the one called "Ainsworth" in their online portfolio. It's a very different garden in the growing season.

But the repeated elements of phormium, grasses, and euphorbia still hold up in the winter.

And of course once the Agave ovatifolia get a little bigger—I think I counted 5?—they'll be stealing the show!

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I love how the plants seem almost as big as the house in the first picture of the third house. I am always going to stop and take pictures but it seems like I am on a mission and don't want to stop and then forget about it as I drive back home. I love that you stop.

    1. I know a lot of people are hesitant to stop and take photos because of a negative interaction, I've only had one of those in all my time photographing.

  2. I'm impressed by any garden with terraces on a slope as steep as that in the Latham's garden. Even before reading your comment, I did think that might be a giant wicker man in the 20th photo. There appear to be other creatures in photos 11 and 18 - horses or large dogs maybe? I appreciate both the colors and repetition of the Ainsworth garden. I noticed that Red Ant's designer hails from Los Angeles and has a certificate in horticulture from UCLA Extension, a program I attended for a time when we lived in Santa Monica.

    1. Good eye! Yes there is a horse and a deer up there. I think maybe for the enjoyment of grandchildren?

  3. In the Portland area if one sees a glorious blue-leafed manzanita like the one in the first drive-by, what is it likely to be?

    1. I am so bad at arctostaphylos ID, but thankfully the owner of this great garden saw that I'd posted it on Instagram and I was able to ask him about it: Arctostaphylos viscida 'Sweet Adinah'.

  4. Both that's a really steep slope the Latham's have. I'd be afraid of slippage. Nice to see it's not planted in grass that needs mowing though (lol). I admire you always having your camera at the ready. Always mean to but then never remember.

  5. I’m seeing more and more agaves around town. How many gardeners were inspired by you? I bet plenty, and count myself in that crew.
    Jim N. Tabor


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