Friday, April 22, 2022

The Great Migration, at Dale Latham's

It's not your imagination, you have seen this garden before. Most recently—on Jan 28th—when I shared some images of the steep back garden and it's agaves, at least one of which is visible in this photo. Prior visits have featured photos of the front garden, with it's unique (summer) succulent plantings.

Back on April 6th, Dale—the garden's creator—invited Patricia and I over for a look at his garden on the eve of his version of The Great Migration. This garden undergoes a sizable transition every spring and autumn, one that makes me look like a poser. 

Here's a corner of the front garden with plants that were in place over the winter. A little soil has been disturbed though, in preparation for plants coming out of storage...

Like these, in the "giraffe greenhouse" (storage for tall plants) the on east side of the house.

There's a brugmansia, a couple of palms, and a cycad tucked in there. We'll see the cycad from the other end later in this post.

Back out front we stopped to admire the tall trunking Agave attenuata Dale brought home from SoCal in their RV earlier in the season, just $6! Of course I was also taken with his horse collection (I wrote about Portland's horse obsession here).

Another shot of the Agave attenuata along with the Azara microphylla and a berm of freshly laid compost in the background.

Walking around back now Dale was excited to point out the 8-foot Beaucarnea recurvata that he protects in place, no moving that bad-boy.

We took a short jaunt down the steep back-side of the property, as seen in the first photo at the top of the post. I know Dale built these walls himself, but I should have thought to ask where he sourced all the urbanite.

Sadly the glorious Arbutus (Madrone) is dying. I can't imagine this back garden without it.

There are more agaves visible from above. Dale mentioned he wished you could see them from the street below, but I thought it was kind of nice to have a few that only the homeowners see.

In this shot you can barely make out the large variegated Agave americana that is visible from below.

There are grape vines too!

Looking up at the enclosed back patio of the home, where plants are overwintered behind custom made enclosures.

A narrow planting bed along the back of the house seemed custom-made for a little zone-pushing.

Unfortunately the barrel cactus said no to to the experiment and kind of imploded.

I am a sucker for a fancy fountain. How fabulous is this?

And here's the back-side of the giraffe greenhouse we looked at earlier. Isn't that an amazing cycad? It's just begging to get out in the front garden and start enchanting passers-by.

Heading back around to check out the other plants in captivity...

But wait! What's that stash? A Portland Nursery score on the left, and a trio of Agave ferdinandi-regis Dale brought back from SoCal for just $23ea.

The over-wintering gang...

Pretty amazing right? As I said, Patricia and I were there the morning of April 6th and after we left Dale was going to get started with his Great Migration, as many of these are moving back out to the front garden. I told him how much better this project made me feel about my own Great Migration (set to get started that same afternoon), as his plants were bigger in both size and quantity than mine.

And just when you were already overwhelmed...there was another "greenhouse" to see! Patricia for scale...


Wall planters full of cuttings.

And agaves in the ground.

Here's what the front of the house looked like as Patricia and I wished him much luck with the move(s) and set off to work in our own gardens, after all it was a glorious sunny day headed into the 70's.

But then this happened. Yep. You've seen my snow photos (here), but Dale sent me a few he took on the 11th. AFTER he'd moved tender plants out into the garden.


I did a drive by this last Monday, the 18th (a week after the snowfall), and snapped these last three images. 

Things are looking good Dale, the plants look like they didn't miss a beat!

Those of us crazy enough to garden on the edge are a hardy bunch. I look forward to stopping by in a couple of months to see Dale's garden at it's best...

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


  1. I can't even begin to process this. I get tired of moving a couple of dozen smallish pots inside for the winter...

    1. I wonder what the neighbors say? (Dale's, not yours)

  2. That greenhouse is really nifty...and the walkway between the two buildings. OMG, the snow and the chaos it creates, not to mention gardening on such a slope!

    1. I have to admit I got a bit dizzy looking down that steep slope, I don't know that I could do it.

  3. I read this post with a degree of trepidation, afraid that the freak snowstorm had wreaked havoc on his collection. I hope he came through the event as well as your drive-by photos suggest. I can't imagine the level of effort involved in moving those plants in for the winter and out in the spring - or planting on a slope that steep on that scale. I'm envious of the urbanite terracing, though - that was my original dream for the (smaller) upper slope at the back of our property.

    1. It's so interesting to me, how when you look up from down on the street level it almost looks like a solid wall of concrete, but then looking down from above you can see all the planting space.

  4. What a terrific garden. Seriously awesome.

    After last year's snow-pocalypse, I've been much more cautious about taking any cold-sensitive plants outside. In fact, I'm doing it now.

    The last 3 photos of Dale's garden make it appear as if it came through the snow with little damage. Thank goodness!

    1. Yes indeed, the snow was brief and it wasn't cold, other than broken branches things should be okay.

  5. Ha ha....POSER! I laughed out loud. You a poser? No way!

    Whew....I hope all those treasures will be a-okay after the snow, they look great. And for a minute there I thought I was in lovely.

    1. Thanks, it was nice to see someone with a move bigger than mine!

  6. Goodness, that is some serious plant dedication! I can't imagine how upsetting it would have been for Dale to see his collection dusted with snow, but hopefully it looks as if most things will be ok.

    1. I think they will, with a little time and warm sunshine.

  7. Photo 21 shows what appears to be the world's most humongous Aeonioum. And I love the potted wall!

    1. Indeed, that aeonium is huge and the wall is a beautiful way to "store" those plants.

  8. What kind of winter protection does he provide for plants which are too big to take inside: Beaucarnea, said to be hardy to 25 degrees, Washingtonia (17 deg.) and Agave americana (15 deg.)

    1. The Beaucarnea gets its own cover built around it, I am not sure about the heat source. The Washingtonia was in the giraffe-greenhouse with heater. I think the Agave americana were allowed to go it unprotected, they'll be fine through many of our winters like this last one.

    2. Thanks Loree and everyone else for your kind and amusing comments. I’ve become a narcissistic succulent-aholic in the last few years, fueled heavily by Loree’s attention.

      My Beaucarnea looks pretty bad from the 24 degree night we had in mid April but I think it will survive. My Agave Americanas
      got some freeze spots that turned black, but no one can see them from the street in back.

      When it snowed in mid April I had already moved my beloved 6’ Brugmansia- with lots of tender spring growth- out of the green house and planted it for the summer. I have a red cloth bag that’s humongous so I covered most of it and slipped two trouble lights inside it. If came through like a champ and I already have one open flower!

    3. AnonymousMay 09, 2022

      Thank you for the reply about protecting plants that are left out. When I asked about the Washingtonia, I meant the huge palm in front of the house, as tal as the house itself, which I thought was a Washingtonia. Is anything done to protect the centerleaf bud in winter?

    4. The palm up against the house is a Trachycarpus fortunei, which is completely hardy here in the Portland area.


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