Friday, March 31, 2023

A long anticipated Sauvie Island garden visit

I've wanted to visit this garden—located on Portland's Sauvie Island—for several years now. I remember Maurice Horn (of the much loved, and now closed, Joy Creek Nursery) speaking about the garden when he gave a presentation to the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. Then I read (with envy) my friend Tamara's blog post years ago, detailing a Joy Creek staff gathering in the garden. So when Tamara organized a visit for us last month I was thrilled! Then the weather started to look iffy. Talk of snow. We decided to postpone, good thing too as that was the day a foot of snow fell in parts of Portland

We rescheduled for last Friday. As I was getting ready to leave home big fat snowflakes were falling from the sky. Seriously. I put on a brave face and drove on, as I drove the flakes turned to rain. Not ideal weather for a garden tour but a heck of a lot better than snow! We even had a few sunbreaks...

This perfect water dish was once a fountain in downtown Portland. I know it's a sin, but I covet this. So very much.  

I've sworn to purchase no more Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'. They look great for a season, maybe two, and then they just cease to be. But when they're good, they're very very good.

This palm oasis is in the center of a circular driveway. I really want to go back and see it in the summer when the Tetrapanax papyrifer is all leafed out (the tall, bare, sticks).

I don't remember if we learned the purpose of this adorable small shed (it makes me think of a pumphouse), but we did learn it has to come down soon, before it falls down. Bummer!

If you look to the the back of the shed above you can see a fenced area in the distance. That's the vegetable garden. Or rather the vegetable prison. Double rows of fencing keep the deer out.

If my memory is correct George (Maurice's other half and an incredible baker, more of that in a bit) said they have 10 acres. Not all of it is this intensely gardened, but there are new planting areas being added.

This photo, looking towards the back of the house, was taken just beyond the clipped shrubs in the photo above. I adore that patio! I am jealous of their large windows and patio access. 

Looking to the left across the back corner of the patio.

Nodding Euphorbia wulfenii bloom.

I'm really enjoying getting to see so many winter gardens this year—I know, technically it's now spring, but barely... and remember, it was snowing on my way to see this garden!

I need a mossy, saxifraga covered stump.

Edgeworthia, the star of many of our PNW gardens this time of year.

Looking across the patio again. The first patio shot I took was from a viewpoint off to the left, the home is to the right, and if you could see through that foliage in the distance you could make out part of the doomed little garden shed.

I snapped several shots of this formal part of the garden—does it qualify as a parterre?—but this is the only one that came close to capturing the magic. Tamara got a great photo of this space from the other side, and also identified many of the plants—her blog post on our visit is here.

The small spiky garden...

Agave parryi var. parryi

Group portrait, the sideways was yucca bent under the weight of snow and ice.

I took SO MANY photos of this beauty. Arctostaphylos manzanita 'Dr. Hurd'...

So incredibly cared for, pruned to perfection.

The rain made that smooth, sexy bark shine.

I finally tore myself away from the manzanita and turned to appreciate a new planting in the making—that's the neighbor's house beyond the fence.

Sadly winter wiped out a few of the plants before they really got going.

Oh look, there's Dr Hurd again! I'd love to see what treasures are lurking among the rocks come summertime.

We're in front of the house now—the blooming cherry started off this post, seen from the side of the house nearest the driveway. Those trunking variegated yucca were flawless, and what a great combination with the yellow hellebores.

Moving around to go down the steps now, they're the approach (or in this case departure) from the front door.

And I'm back to admiring this combo!

Looking over my shoulder once I'm down to the bottom of the steps.

The house seen from a distance. I think it was about here that George left our wandering group and headed back to the house to heat water for tea. He also prepared a scrumptious spread of scones and muffins (homemade) as well as two kinds of jam (also homemade), one of which made from mahonia berries! They were so good, that man's got talent.

We walked down towards the water at the far edge of the property. Can you make out the dusting of snow on the hills in the distance?

Walking back towards the house now, I stopped to admire this dark hellebore.

And the view of the driveway palm oasis from the opposite side.

Garrya elliptica arch...

Well there we are, a pyrrosia! P. lingua 'Eboshi' to be exact, and it looks unfazed by winter. 

As you may remember I look for an agave and a pyrrosia when touring a PNW garden, if I see both then I know I'm dealing with a like-minded gardener (or in this case gardeners). Maurice and George are all that and more.

Oh! We're back behind the house at the edge of the patio again and the light has gotten even better...

What can I say? I was enchanted.

I'll wrap up this post with a couple of photos I shot from inside the house. These show just how perfectly the house is open to the landscape. First from the front window...

The side...

And the back...

Thanks again to our kind hosts George and Maurice, it was a very special day in a truly magnificent garden.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Another one bites the dust...

A few weeks ago I posted a video on Instagram (here) of me pulling the center from my huge Agave weberi, it was completely rotted out. The soundtrack to the video was Queen's 1980 hit Another One Bite's the Dust—it seemed apropos. Well, que the band cause here we go again...

This is a photo from last summer, the agave with only months to live is the one with the white arrow over it, Agave 'Sharkskin'... 

Here it is during the late December storm, under the green arrow. We covered it earlier in the fall, to keep it dry. It's been sitting in that spot, in that pot, for years—I bought it in 2015. 

Peeking under the cover I could see some lower leaves weren't looking good, so I decided it was time to remove the cover and clean them up. Surprise!

It wasn't just the lower leaves that weren't doing well.

That's another large agave to add too my death list, I'm at 5 large (old) agaves now, and countless small ones. A reminder the ribbed container here used to hold Mr. Big, an Agave americana variegata.

What else is lurking under the covers?

Agave parryi, rotten.

Another, also rotten.

The Agave bracteosa remains solid (yay!). The small brown one at the back was a variegated Agave americana pup.

The A. parryis just lifted right up off the ground, one remained semi-intact even as I dropped it into the bin. 

So now it was time to be brave and take a close look at the big Agave ovatifolia in the container. I won't lie, I was very apprehensive as I peeled back that plastic. What would I discover?

It was solid! Thank god.

What the heck, I decided to check under the other two bamboo and plastic tunnels. These have been in place since sometime in early November, I cover them because a dry succulent is much better able to cope with cold. All the Agave bracteosa here look good, as does the Agave 'Mateo'. The Aloe striatula (Aloiampelos striatula) also look good.

These cute little NOID agaves are goners, ditto for the pinecone cactus behind them. 

I forget exactly which agave this was, obviously it's now mush.

Interesting. I guess not all of the Aloe striatula are happy. I have several different versions of this plant growing here, including a few seed grown plants from a friend. I wish I remembered which was which.

Happy Aloe striatula...

This opuntia (I think it might be 'Santa Rita', based on the color) came from my brother's place in Phoenix (2018). Honestly I was surprised it made it this long...

Under the other tunnel...

Agave montana

This one was labeled Agave parviflora but there was a general consensus among those of us who bought one (Home Depot was selling them a couple of years ago) that name wasn't right. I can't remember what it really was, and now it doesn't matter.

Agave americana var. protoamericana I think (came to me with mixed up labeling).

To the driveway now. The black pot was home to the Agave weberi I mentioned at the top of this post. The plant in the galvanized bin is an Agave americana, it was in the garage during the cold periods—it's a detached, unheated, unfinished space, but it was enough to keep this guy alive.

There were agaves here. Both of these metal pots had big agaves in them, I knew it wasn't the best place to plant them (thin metal not offering much protection against the elements) but took the risk and enjoyed them while they lasted. (the yellow leaves belong to a yucca that used to grow in the container and is making a comeback)

Not pretty, but still solid.

This is interesting, another Agave 'Sharkskin', but this one in the ground and it's solid. It received zero protection all winter. Nothing! I was treating it as an experiment since I had my other bigger/better plant in the container. Ha, you can see how that turned out. This one's not looking so great, but hopefully once we get some warm sunny days it will start to flush out with new growth. (The stump behind it is a cotinus I'm planning to remove)

This Agave 'Mateo' is in a container (hard to see but it's a thick cement pot covered with tiny rocks). I've been watching and worrying (since I've lost 5 others in containers) but so far it's okay. The small one on the right is an Agave x leopoldii in a container, it was in the shade pavilion greenhouse when the weather was nasty.

Let's wrap up this post with a look at the two big Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' by our front door.

This is the plant furthest from the steps, on the right in the above photo. It's still doing great. I am thrilled! Oh, the Euphorbia rigida are all flattened because of the foot of snow that fell on them last month. They didn't lose their blooms, but they did lose their upright posture.

Here's the center of the agave that has been "ailing" for awhile now, the one closest to the door.

I cut out a bad leaf a few weeks back, that's the brown stuff at the bottom. The other spots are getting bigger with each passing day—each COLD AND WET passing day—I pray we warm up soon and maybe this one will be okay, after all the center is still solid. 

There are many other agaves in the ground in my garden that are doing fine, either with no damage or minor damage. I don't want to jinx them by doing a "winners" post right away, but once we turn the corner and we're at least out of the 30's at night and reliably into the 60's during the day (that's really not too much to ask for!) then I'll do a happy agave post.

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