Monday, May 22, 2023

Another visit to Rare Plant Research (with the Outlaw)

I'm a sucker for tradition, especially when it evolves nursery/garden visits and good friends. If my calculations are correct then this last weekend was my 18th annual trek to Rare Plant Research in Oregon City, Oregon, and at least my 6th with Peter, aka the Outlaw.

Rare Plant Research is a wholesale nursery that opens to the public for a few events each year, the owner lives on site and has created extensive gardens around the home which are also open.

To avoid the choke point with the crowds at the entry, and of course to put an eye on the bromeliads, I always start at the very last greenhouse and then work my way to the front.

And I always take this photo, because cannas in a group are impressive.

As are opuntia...

Hmmm, speaking of (opuntia) I've got a spot in the garden for a nice spiky version!

Agave montana (I believe, although they still aren't signed as such)

Eucomis comosa, maybe 'Sparkling Burgundy'

Of course I had to go peek at what was "behind the curtain" in the off-limits area.

Didierea trollii

Echium in a greenhouse

Echium outside


Sad looking Platycerium bifurcatum 'Netherlands'.

Blooming Sarracenia x catesbaei.

This glorious white spiked devil appears to have been abandoned by a potential purchaser, as it (and it's offspring in the next pot over) was not where it was originally found. How do I know? Because Peter had picked one up from the original location and was also considering leaving it behind.

Remember this little segment as I'll have a story for you at the end of this post.

Agave ovatifolia! I was hoping to find them here again this year. These are the 3 gallon offerings ($45) but there were also 1 gallon ($19.50).

Spikes and shells, an unexpected combination anywhere but here at RPR. 

Peter and I walked up to the house and garden of the owner Burl, and his wife. It's an interesting area to survey, and pass the time, while the line to pay down at the nursery thins out. Those bromeliads do not spend the winter there in the rocks, lots of plants around the home winter-over in the greenhouses. 

Alcantarea imperialis 

This photo doesn't accurately convey just how large these sarracenia were.

Inside the home's conservatory.

And across just one of several man-made (Burl-made) ponds.

Another, looking back at the house.

And down at the nursery area, thru the winery's vines (Villa Catalana Cellars is another of Burl's endeavors).

So there's our haul (mine is toward the bottom of the photo; the purple bromeliad, the spiky opuntia and a pair of Agave ovatifolia). Peter is replacing the evil cylindropuntia he'd previously decided against. 

I admit to pushing him to buy it, it was such a beautiful plant. During the trip home a segment (like the abandoned one I photographed above, in the plant pot) broke off and attached itself to the rubber floormat in the back of my car. While Peter was loading his plants into his car I tried to pry it free (with a knife) so he could take it home. I ended up getting it—via at least seven of its long white spines with barbs—stuck in my fingers. The weight of the plant segment meant every move pulled on them and the pain increased. Thankfully Andrew was home and cut the spines free from the plant and then pulled out from my fingers. Fun times with spikes!
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  1. AnonymousMay 22, 2023

    Hey Loree! A little tip we learned as Oregon natives living in Arizona - Carry a comb with you so you don't have to touch the cactus to get them out of your skin! We were on a hike where the jumping cholla got our dog, then my husband's foot, and then his hand. Notice I was not included in that nonsense!! Erin R

    1. Thanks for the tip! I remember hearing that one somewhere in the past. So it really works? Seeing (feeling) how hard my husband had to pull on each one of those spines to get them out of my skin, I just can't imagine a comb doing the trick.

  2. Jeanne DeBenedetti KeyesMay 22, 2023

    Oh, ouch! Bet you are not feeling to charitable to that evil little spiky bit o' cactus, even if though it was free! Elbow length leather gloves? Glad you had a great time with Peter. Hope he is doing well! Beautiful pics of RPR.

    1. Oh that piece of cactus that decided to be mine? It's in the trash now. No way I was keeping it.

  3. AnonymousMay 22, 2023

    Beyond plants you've seen, purchases you've made and a nasty run-in with the devil's spines, the absolutely best thing is the annual track with The Outlaw (first since covid?). I never lose hope he'll post an update on his garden...
    I looked closely at the "Inside the home's conservatory" photo: your hanging plants in the shade pavilion are so much better. A high bar for anyone to surpass.

    1. No, we actually even visited in 2020 during COVID. Burl had a reservation system in place and only 10 or so people were allowed per hour. Thanks for the compliment!

  4. These Rare Plant sales are a gift for so many reasons. While I'm sorry about the troublesome spines, I'm envious of your Agave ovatifolia finds. I miss Peter's blog - and Alison's as well.

    1. I've been emailing with Alison recently, she kindly offered up some agaves. She's still gardening and I let her know she's missed.

  5. I miss The Outlaw's blog. I hope he's well.

  6. You must have been in heaven- most of the time. Ditto missing Peter and Alison.

    1. Yes, it is a pretty fabulous place to visit annually!

  7. Oh yes, friends...plants...and friends and plants together. Nothing better. (minus the spines) ;-)

  8. That was an amazing trip - and a real treat to come home with beautiful plants.

    1. I'm thrilled that after so many years I still come away with "must-haves"!

  9. I admit, I was worried seeing that spiky opuntia perched precariously over bare feet. Looks like some of that concern was justified. Those spines are amazingly difficult to pull out. It was nice to finally meet Peter and put a face to the Outlaw. You two had the best idea to watch from afar and avoid the line. Funny to recognize myself in the photo based on my stance.

    1. I almost called you out in that photo, but decided to let you remain anon. I was happy to capture both you and L.

    2. As long as I look gorgeous...


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