Monday, October 9, 2023

HPSO Open Gardens: neighbors Barb Christopher and Marjorie Hirsch

One of the perks of membership in the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon are the member open gardens. On any weekend (and some Monday evenings) between early May and late September there are gardens open for visiting. This week I'm sharing a series of 5 gardens I visited on a semi-rainy Monday evening in June, we start here, at Barb Christopher's garden...

I've known Barb for years (8?) and she lives just 2.5 miles from me, I can't believe this is the first time I've been to her garden!

Here's her description: "Moving out of the shadow of Forest Park 16 years ago, I found a rare, sunny, tree-less lot in the Irvington neighborhood. The first year, the scraggly grass and puny rhodies had a close encounter of the bulldozer kind. David Mason (formerly Hedgerows Nursery) helped me make a plan for the terraced front garden, to include a rock garden, a dry creek and a small bridge. After I planted lots of rocks and boulders, the sun-loving plants soon followed. Later, the parking strip became a garden and the backyard became a woodland garden under the borrowed shade of neighboring birch trees. This summer a climate friendly gravel area will be added to reduce watering. I am also revising the container garden in the driveway (who says you need to put a car there?). The pergola at the back end of the driveway makes a great patio, particularly now that the climbing hydrangea has had about 10 years to scramble over the top. I look forward to sharing the garden again this summer."

The front sidewalk, looking up to the house, a few feet above.

Pittosporum tenuifolium, maybe 'County Park Dwarf'.

Checking out that container-filled, carless driveway...

...and turning back to the front of the house.

Rock steps back down to the sidewalk at street level.

I was too late for the allium.

But just in time for the mossy trolls, I loved this trio so much!

They live here, on the the bridge.

NE Portland—where all of the gardens we'll visit in this series are located—has narrow side yards.

We'll admire the Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro' and ignore the bishops weed at it's base.

Great hosta! I asked Barb and learned it has the horrible name of 'Striptease'... why!?! (as much as I hate the name, I did buy one when I found it later at Sebright Gardens)

Maybe Hosta 'Guacamole'?

The back garden—it looks ready for a party!

Cryptomeria and support friend...

Little did I know just how many martagon lilies I was going to see this week! Barb's was the first, but I left a couple days later for the Vancouver BC Study Weekend where I saw many more.

The planter looked like it was dancing across the back garden.

I heard at least one group who were fooled by these colorful metal pieces and were trying to figure out which plant bloomed like that.

I'm standing in the driveway now, looking back at a corner of the house. What I wouldn't give for French doors that open into my garden.

And the dining area—this garden has such great entertaining spaces!

On the back side of the wall that separates the dining area from the driveway.

And now we're back out in the driveway...

Just four houses down the street a neighbor, Marjorie Hirsch, had her garden open too. 

What a nice large front porch for plant pot staging.

Another narrow side yard.


Along the back of the house...

The BBQ has a great little hideout!

And looking out into the small back garden...

Majorie's description: "I have a small backyard garden – typical inner NE yard with 3 garages that form much of its boundary. One garage supports a recycled French door with mirrors replacing the original glass. The other garage walls are painted colors complimenting the garden. Border shrubs surround a no maintenance gravel center. Ever evolving, the garden is adjusting to the recent loss of shade from a vine maple and witch hazel. I'm planting now for sun – it's a good thing because I've always loved lilies!"

Her driveway also features a secluded spot to spend a warm afternoon.

I was head-over-heels in love with those containers on wheels. Turns out they came from a surplus sale at our local school district. I think they were laundry carts, or maybe used in the kitchen. Marjorie knew, but that was 5 months ago and I'm having a hard time remembering! 

To receive alerts of new danger garden posts by email, subscribe here. Please note; these are sent from a third party, you’ll want to click thru to read the post here on the blog to avoid their annoying ads. 

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


  1. I LOVE Barbara's garden! It was enough to resurface my impractical dream of moving to Portland or elsewhere in the PNW. Based on the description of the garden she got when she purchased the property, that's quite a transformation. I love the hostas - whatever their names - that's a genus that's impossible to grow here. The mossy trolls are a nice touch and I totally bought into the vision that the back garden planter is dancing.

    1. Funny, I read your comment thinking "who the heck is Barbara?" then it hit me. When you've known someone only as Barb, well it sees strange to hear them referred to by another name! Barb told me the neighbor kids gave the trolls a spa day and cleaned them all up, yet they were covered with all that character-filled moss again in no time.

  2. I have ‘Striptease’ and I got it regardless of the name. But I have said no to a number of great plants because I hated the names. The second gardener needs to add a fence to her narrow side yard. It would give her a much better space visually without losing too much acreage. So many wonderful ideas in both gardens.

    1. 'Striptease' is right up there with the purple passion flower I'm growing called Passiflora 'Aphrodite's Purple Nightie'...

  3. Oh, I remember these gardens! I was so impressed with that Cryptomeria in Marjorie's garden. Of course I forget its exact name, but it was fabulous! And I totally missed the trolls in Barb's garden. I think I was too impressed looking up at the ginormous healthy-looking birch in the neighbor's yard, to look where I was walking - LOL!

    1. You missed the trolls! Bummer. It was a fun night of beautiful gardens though wasn't it?

  4. Beautiful gardens. I love how passionate gardeners take advantage of every available space to green up their property. Funny how names influence our plant choices. I purchased an apple tree 'Red Sparkle' for the name alone. Hosta and daylilies seem to have some of the worst names out there. Love those little trolls.

    1. So does 'Red Sparkle' taste good? Or just sparkle?

  5. Thank you for my needed shot of green, Lori! Such lovely gardens. I had to laugh at the 'Wissel's Saguaro'! The irregular branches certainly are reminiscent of the arms of a Saguaro cactus in my hood!

    1. I have a Wissel's, but it's not yet saguaro-ing, I wish it would hurry up!

  6. It takes a while to catch up on posts I've missed while in Stockholm for a week.
    Hosta 'striptease' is immediately going on my wish list.
    I first saw metal seed heads on the outlaw's blog, and admit to being fooled by them. A little embarrassing...
    The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), and the stand are fabulous: I love it.
    The containers on wheels: Yes! such a cool find.

    1. It occurred to me I hadn't "heard" from you in a while and I wondered if you were traveling. Hope you find that Hosta in your part of the world, if not:

  7. That "dancing" planter is so very cool. Lots and lots of beautiful foliage. Two great gardens--thanks for the tour.

    1. I wonder what they look like now (the gardens). An October garden is very different from a June garden...


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!