Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Agave hunting at Kalama Harbor Lodge

It had been a good long while since I put eyes on the gardens at McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge, so here we are.

It's pretty amazing how mature the plants are, then again when I stop to do the math I realize this garden is over five years old. I first visited late in 2018, and posted about it in early 2019—here.

The Hesperantha coccinea / Schizostylis coccinea (I think?) were amazing. I rarely see this plant massed and in bloom. Well done!

I think this is a Franklinia alatamaha flower?

Flawless Melianthus major.

I was going to call this Woodwardia unigemmata...

Until I saw this, which looks even more like Woodwardia unigemmata. Even though they look a little different, I think that's what they both were—they were growing at opposite ends of the building.

Lots of repetition in this part of the garden. It's powerful.

Now we're looking at the border along the paved walkway. On the other side of the plants is a strip of sandy beach and then the Columbia River. The City of Kalama is in Washington State, the land visible across the water is Oregon. I rather like what they've done with the barrel rings here.

I wonder what creature has been eating on the Yucca rostrata to get the leaves bound up like that?

The large, dense, shrub on the right is a Fabiana imbricata.

At least that's what I surmised based on the flowers.

Grevillea some something

Yucca linearifolia and Agave parryi

The day was as chilly as it looks, so that (plus it was a weekday) helped to keep the beach clear of people.

I didn't realize I was holding my breath, wondering if this big guy (Agave americana) would still be here, until I saw it and relaxed.

Last winter was a very bad one for agaves in the area, I was worried.

I see spikes! I guess I'm going to have to go down and walk along the other side of the border and see what's hiding down there.

But first there are a couple more agaves to admire up here, a pair of Agave 'Mateo'...

And a trio of Agave parryi.

Over on the beach side I found an Agave ovatifolia...

Along with a blooming colletia, for extra spiky fun.

Agave parryi v. parryi, maybe? (are you starting to understand the title of this post? It really did feel like the agave version of an easter egg hunt)

The Euphorbia characias 'Tasmanian Tiger'  were the best I've ever seen.

Now I've walked out on the metal "pier" visible behind the first photo of the large Agave americana. The pier is new since I last visited, and provides a great view of the lodge and the narrow garden that separates it from the beach.

Walking back to my car I spied this arctostaphylos being grown as a single trunked specimen.

Headed home I pulled into the small McMenamins Ahles Point Cabin just about a half-mile down river from the lodge.

I'm not sure why, maybe I was still in agave hunt mode, but I walked around to the backside of the cabin. Curious if the plantings extended that far.

Look what I found...

Judging by their looks (the pups for example) I suspect they've been there awhile, which probably means they were planted by Ryan Miller. Ryan is the gardener responsible taking a chance and planting the big Agave americana. Ryan is also no longer with McMenamins, I will miss running into him when walking through the gardens at Kennedy School .

My favorite weed, verbascum.

This poor fellow is alive, which if he was in place thru last winter is an accomplishment.

Better from this angle.

There were lots of opuntia tucked in the rocks too...

It was pretty amazing how many agaves there were, I'm really glad I wandered down. 

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  1. This is a VERY nice garden. I shouldn't be surprised, considering it's a McMenamins property.

    Hesperantha coccinea, that's a new one. How come I've never come across it down here?

    That Fabiana imbricata was a big surprise. I didn't know if was that hardy.

    1. I was surprised to find huge Fabiana imbricata at the Ventura Botanical Gardens (a grand name for a collection of struggling plants), happily growing at an exposed sunny, dry, and windy site. I guess I now better understand how to site my tiny plant.

  2. The garden has matured beautifully since your prior visit. Agaves are well represented and well-placed. The Fabiana was impressive - I was recently surprised to find that the 2 I planted (in different areas) are still alive if also still dinky.

    1. I finally acquired a fabiana last summer, a tiny little thing. I guess they're slow growers?

  3. It's alway shocking how quickly planting strips grow... I noticed the trio of Agave in your 2019 post, fully exposed, now dwarfed by the lavender.
    If any of the Euphorbias I've grown over the years looked as good as that 'Tasmanian Tiger', I'd be ecstatic. Alas, they'd become leggy and disheveled. I wonder if 'Tasmanian Tiger' is could be the exception...

    1. I've had zero luck with 'Tasmanian Tiger' looking good for any length of time. Perhaps we need to change our thinking on these kind of euphorbia and see them as long lived annuals?

  4. Wow things have really grown up and matured. The gardens look fantastic. I was admiring the pairing of the yucca and A. parryi. I have both of these in pots but never thought how great they would look together. Copying is the best form of flattery.

    1. Indeed it is! I loved that the sun briefly emerged while I took that photo.

  5. Very nice. The barrel rings and the other sculptures are creative and attractive. And of course, the plants! The Agaves are great, and the Hesperantha blooms...lovely!!

    1. I visited at just the right time for those blooms.

  6. Super cool! Great scenery. I’ve got to get to that McMenimins. Kennedy school is always fun but the scenery is awesome in Kalama.
    Jim N Tabor

    1. It's a nice drive when you feel the need to get away for a couple of hours. Heading up there to walk was a great COVID lockdown diversion.

  7. It's incredible how it has matured. The Hesperantha is really nice, I don't think I've come across coccinea before? The slope of rocks was begging for plants, I'm glad you took a look down below.

    1. Me too, now I know to check back the next time I'm up that way.

  8. A few weekends ago we drove past Kalama on I5. Now that I know where this place is, I want to stop by. Woodwardia unigemmata is such a beautiful fern. I can't wait for mine to reach that size and push out more than one leaf per year. Nice to see so many agaves too. In regards to Fabiana, mine are fairly fast, growing 9-18" per year - and easily survive several temps down to 18F and lower in wet, mucky clay. Pinching the tips encourages better form, otherwise they get tall and lanky.


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