Friday, November 25, 2022

Leach Botanical Garden, updated

Yes, that's right, updated. Notice I didn't call it new and improved, because I'm kind of on the fence about that.
Somehow it's been—gulp—7 years since I last visited the Leach Botanical Garden. The pollinator and habitat garden (above), as well as the fireside terrace and tree walk (below) are all new. An upper section of the garden, a propagation area, and a sweet little rock garden are all gone to make room for the new additions.

To be fair the new additions are much more visitor friendly to the average person, as is the reoriented entryway with a sizable parking lot and a nice bathroom. Of course, there's now a fee to enter, but at just $5 that shouldn't stop most people, and if it does, well they've got a great "Garden for All admissions program" and no one will ever be turned away. How cool is that?

The tree walk wasn't as dramatic as I'd hoped for, but later I heard the sounds of kids enjoying the heck out of it, so I suppose the target isn't really me.

Tetrapanax papyrifer

This is one of the first manzanita I saw upon starting to garden here in Portland. I'm thrilled it is still here, Arctostaphylos manzanita ssp. laevigata.

The house itself as well as the terraces around it were closed when I visited. The house is about to undergo a re-roofing project. It needs it badly!

I pray they don't disturb this Dasylirion wheeleri which has been right in this spot as long as I've been visiting.

Ditto for it's friends, the opuntia.

And the agaves! Although I am shocked they're not larger, this is about the same size they were the last time I stopped by.

Agave toumeyana var. bella

Did you catch the set of four pipe stands in the upper photos? They must be used to put a winter cover in place?

Looking up at the tree walk.

And at the under-utilized rock garden.

Shiny new arbors.

The land to the far east of the property is fenced and part of the "Back 5 Acres" project.

It looks like there are interesting things going on back there.

Now I've walked down to the lower part of the garden, beneath the house. This is the area referred to on the map (at the end of this post) as the riparian zone, the creek is just to the left of this photo.

Oh how I want to plant something in those logs!

Ferns baby!

I sat down the oak leaves I'd been collecting to take the photo above, they looked so nice there that I left them.

If I had a stone bench I would definitely want a fern planting pocket.

Wouldn't you?

A Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro' perhaps?

Walking back up the hillside now I noticed the arctostaphylos bark was highlighted by the sun, naturally I had to snap another photo.

And what's this? A "contemplative place" installation, according to the map.

Oh and while you might think that's a lawn, it's not. It's a "gathering green"...

Yes I am having fun with the names that seem to take themselves a little too seriously.

As I headed back to my car—having enjoyed this walk through the updated Leach Botanical Garden—these pots caught my eye, and I thought back to the ones I spotted in other parts of the garden. I suspect this is the work of Bob Hyland, Leach Garden Vice President and owner of Contained Exuberance. Nice work Bob!

On a sad "local garden" note I wanted to share that Portland's Elk Rock Garden at the Bishop's Close (which I seem to visit every spring, here and here for example) is up for sale—listing here. The garden and home were donated to the  Episcopal Diocese of Oregon by it's builder the Kerr Family. The history section of the website notes: "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." So much for that. Rumor is the property is priced to appeal to developers, and you know what that means; lots of new McMansions, no garden.

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


  1. That tree walk would pull me in immediately. I think the hollowed logs offer a compelling planting opportunity as well. I saw a tree planted inside a hollow log recently but that was just plain odd.

    1. Odd indeed, unless maybe Mother Nature planted it?

  2. This seems like a lovely garden and I like the tree walk. I'm amazed you remember your first manzanita in Portland and that it's still there, despite of all the challenges manzanita faced in recent years.
    I hope there's a chance the re-roofing project be a conversion to a green roof, but not holding my breath.
    The hollowed logs would have been planted in my garden immediately.

    1. Oh a green roof on that side that faces the dasylirion would be AMAZING!

  3. Love the planting pocket with the fern. Though it might need a few updates, it looks like a beautiful place.

  4. The Leach Botanical Garden was probably the first garden I ever visited up in the Portland area. The rock garden always made me a bit sad, but I am glad that at least someone is putting in energy to maintain the place. Better than McMansions any time. Will be very sad to see Elk Rock Garden go. I've never been. It would be nice if there was a garden rescue party before everything gets destroyed.

    1. I understand completely about the rock garden. Maybe that's why I liked it. Sad has it's place.

  5. Too bad about Elk Rock Garden. Wonder if that's even legal due to the stipulations of the will and the endowment? Your walk through Leach doesn't strike me so much as a garden but more as a natural reserve park. It's very different but quite lovely too.


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