Wednesday, August 23, 2023

An August visit to Chickadee Gardens

I want to blame it on COVID—those strange times that threw our socializing norms completely out of whack—but even with that excuse it had been far too long since I'd visited my friend Tamara in her garden in St. Helens, Oregon...

My last visit was way back in 2018—five long years ago! (*sigh*) This visit took place on August 9th. The weather that day was odd, I made a couple of stops en-route that day and actually got rained on! (sadly none fell back home in Portland) I mention the weather only because you'll see some strange lighting in these photos...

I started snapping photos right by the home's front door. What a great vignette!

The details are not overlooked in this garden, something that would be very easy to do in a garden of this size. Tamara and her husband/Facilities Manager run a very tight ship!

This was my first time seeing the "new" chicken house, La Casa de Frida...

It's a thing of beauty which pulls together all the elements of Chickadee Gardens / Blue Jay Lane Farms. The metal siding echoes that of the main house, the painted sign (Tamara's handiwork) pays homage to one of their original chickens Frida (details of the making here) as well as pulling in the blue of the nearby garden shed.

Once again I took photos of the chickens, only to have them turn out blurry. Sweet Pea the turkey gets all the attention.

Glancing over at the house...

And now wandering through the garden. The absolutely fantastic garden...

The chicken house (it seems too fancy to be a coup) is visible through the porch overhang of the blue shed.

I posted these photos in the order I took them as we walked and talked. Some are looking back towards the house...

Some are looking off in the distance...

Tamara has planted Phlomis russeliana to perfection. Those post-bloom orbs become natural garden totems.

The vegetable garden...

That cool powdery purple-blue gets me every time.

I believe she said these calendula were volunteers from a years-ago planting.

Grevillea x 'Neil Bell'

Absolutely covered with blooms.

Beyond Neil...

The artwork is by Michihiro Kosuge, Tamara's art advisor at Portland State University as well as the department chair for many years on and off at PSU. Tamara and David became close to him in his final years and have a few of his pieces in their garden. These are effectively Japanese fish traps in sculpture form.

You will be thrilled to know, Oscar the Agave parryi var. truncata lives on (it was a little dicey after last winter). Here are his good looking progeny

And Oscar himself...

Salix eleagnos var. angustifolia, aka rosemary willow.

Up on the deck you'll find these interesting containers... 

And now we've made it to the shady part of the garden, I was in awe of this Polystichum setiferum 'Pulcherrimum Bevis'. I'd heard of "Bevis" but I had no idea it was such a glorious beast!

Austroblechnum penna-marina, aka Blechnum penna-marina on the left, Saxafraga x geum 'Dentata' on the right.

Good ol' spotty dotty...

I love that mossy pathway!

Cyrtomium macrophyllum, I think I just stopped and pointed with my mouth hanging open. It's hard to tell just how large those "leaves" are. Lucky me Tamara has since tracked one down at Cistus and it's mine!

Just a few after-dinner shots now...

That's a new baby Agave ovatifolia at the bottom there...

I was given a bag full of veggies (and eggs!) from the garden to take home. Andrew and I enjoyed every last bit. Even the cucumbers were hugely more delicious than what we get at the grocery store.

If you enjoyed what you saw here then click on over to Tamara's blog Chickadee Gardens and subscribe! She does a weekly blog post and it's always always insightful and inspiring. Thank you Tamara and David for welcoming me into your beautiful garden and home.

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All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Loree, thank you for this lovely post! It's so fun to see it from your eyes. It was a pleasure seeing you and catching up on all things plants - it's been far too long. Now my turn to see your garden! You are always welcome!

    1. As are you! I am looking forward to having you visit sometime soon.

  2. What a great tour of Tamara's gorgeous garden! I love her new chicken coop too. The blue paint reminds me of her old garden -- a blue shed maybe?

    1. Hmmm, I think you're right. Now I've got to go find my post on her old garden...

  3. Although I routinely check Tamara's weekly posts, it's always fin to see a garden through another blogger's lens. Thanks for sharing your visit, Loree. I love the woodland path shots and, of course, another view of the famous hen house.

    1. I was glad to be able to capture some okay images of her woodland area, in previous visits the bright sun cast harsh shadows that made it nearly impossible.

  4. I've been following Chickadee Gardens for a while now yet your photos of it reveal unfamiliar angles, groupings, points of view... Quite a bit of maturity took place since your previous visit.
    The panoramic photo #38, with the wind chime top right, is phenomenal.
    I was so impressed with the post-bloom Phlomis russeliana spikes I bought one. They'll become particularly dramatic as they turn brown-black in winter.
    Nice visit.

    1. Yes indeed, the garden feels so much more established than in my previous visits, very much of its place. Glad you got that phlomis, I wish I had room for one.

  5. This brings back fond memories of my visit in 2018. I love everything about Tamara's garden, especially how the plantings fit the scale of the property. The woodland views seem almost exotic to me--none of that around here!

    1. We were talking about that visit with you and Kathy, would you believe i hadn't been there since?

  6. FM here: The hens thank you for not depicting them at their worst. Either they are molting or broody and that is not a good look for anybody. Kidding aside, thank you so much for the great pictures and kind comments. Tamara is the wizard around here, I provide some muscle. Our best to you. D

    1. Thank you very much for your hospitality! Muscle is very important and I hope you didn't feel that I overlooked your contributions. We bloggers get focused on the voice of the blog I am afraid.

  7. I read her blog and it’s always fascinating to see a garden through someone else’s eyes. Great garden. Great tour.

    1. Great garden indeed, I am glad you enjoyed my visit.

  8. Yes their garden is something special. Spooling through your photos I noticed that many of them showcased a variety of only greens and interesting textures with few flowers. This is what makes their garden so great.

  9. I was so happy to visit Chickadee Gardens yesterday and it was funny to see how you and I have cued in on the same things. That Cyrtomium macrophyllum, for example, is a stunner. The other thing I noticed, which is highlighted in your photos, is the repeating color palette of silvery grays, blues, dark greens, and rusty browns - it's a very pleasing combination to my eyes. An inspiring garden of what can be achieved as we adapt to our increasingly hot, dry summers.


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