Wednesday, July 3, 2024

A garden visit in Battle Ground, Washington

Mid-June I made the trek up to Battle Ground, Washington (a suburb of Vancouver, WA, just 30 minutes north of Portland), to visit the private garden of Lori and Richard Vollmer, names that will sound familiar to those who shopped at NE Portland's Garden Fever!—as they were the founders and long time owners. 

I must take a moment and give thanks to Lori and Richard. As a long time gardener, but one who was new to the Portland area back in 2005, Garden Fever was hugely educational and inspirational to me as I found my way as a gardener here. I hit the jackpot buying a home less than two miles from their nursery!

The photo below is of the same container vignette as in the intro photo above, but from the side. I share it because I want to draw your attention to the two trees—or rather tree trunks—to the far right of the photo. To enter the property the drive takes you between those two trees, it's close, and a little unnerving, but at the same time sets the scene quite perfectly for the reverence with which the botanical residents of the property are treated.

We started the garden tour by enjoying a rhubarb treat on the deck, which gave me time to appreciate the many container plantings there.

Containers and seating options. There were many throughout the garden.

Note the chunky rebar and woven metal panel.

Comfy seating, and don't you love the house trim colors?

It was time to begin the tour proper...

Their Schefflera delavayi was a thing of beauty, it had me feeling sorry for my own versions of this plant that can't stretch their arms far and wide.

Cypripedium ‘Memoriam Shawna Austin’

The deck as seen through a scrim of foliage.

Rhododendron pachysanthum

A pair of shy but colorful visitors.

Elaeagnus, maybe E. 'Quicksilver'.

So elegantly silver...

I think this might just be the best parking spot ever. And look how they're parking to avoid the volunteer Eryngium giganteum, remember what I said about botanical reverence?

Spikes and ferns, yes I am going to say that again; SPIKES and FERNS. Yep, this is what I'm talking about. On the right Yucca rostrata and (maybe) Yucca faxoniana, on the left native Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern.

Looking at this rather inviting spot I was torn. I really wanted to just sit here and soak up the beauty for a bit. But there was still so much garden to see...

Angelica stricta purpurea

Abies koreana, I mean seriously... how gorgeous are these?

Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida' (Japanese Emperor Oak), and a fine form it is.

It didn't seem fair how many fantastic Eryngium giganteum there were in this garden. I have tried to get this reseeder established in my garden and yet... I've got nothing.

The very charming boardwalk in the meadow.

Maybe Lupinus rivularis? I'm spacing the exact ID, but that color was dreamy.

The only photo I took of the veggie garden. I'm not sure why I didn't take others when we were actually in the garden, admiring the tomatoes and peppers, but c'est la vie.

Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora 'Bampton', I think.

This shot was an attempt to capture the different shades of green in the patch of Adiantum venustum, (Himalayan maidenhair) at the base of the trees. It was magic.

If you're wondering just how big this garden is, it's 2 acres, and they've been there for 34 years! What I can't quite comprehend is how Lori and Richard managed to care for this garden, while also running a demanding small business.

If you've never walked on a path of natural wood Excelsior you don't know what you're missing. It was so soft and springy. As a former retail person I unpacked many many boxes filled with this stuff. I never would have imagined it would make such a great pathway material.

Magnolia insignis

This was my first view of their bocce ball court. I was very intrigued and wanted to get closer, but Lori assured me that we'd work our way over there eventually.

We then walked though the veggie garden, maybe that's why I didn't take any photos there? I was so preoccupied with getting over to the bocce ball area! I did however snap a shot of the Agave weberi, and A. salmiana growing in the ground undercover of a greenhouse. Agaves are always a priority.

This charming Lily ‘Corsage’ was in the cutting garden.

Pineapple broom, Argyrocytisus battandieri

Now I'm looking out over the bocce ball court...

Such a great space, it seems to be a party waiting to happen.

Look at that Eryngium giganteum!

I think I made an audible gasp when Lori pointed out this new acquisition, Rhododendron oreotrephes 'Blue Leaf'. 
There was no jealousy over this other new plant purchase, Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum only because I already have one—mine is not this lovely however.

I couldn't stop remarking on these containers on the roof, which of course they're not, but it felt like it when I first saw them.

Rhododendron ‘Polarnacht’

One of the ornamental oregano

And more spikes...

This area with built up blocks and planting pockets was a rather fabulous end to a stunning garden tour. I think that's an Agave ovatifolia on the far left, and at least one of the other big guys is Agave parryi ssp. huachucensis.

I hope you enjoyed this fantastic garden as much as I did. I came home with all sorts of wonderful garden thoughts dancing in my head, and then I got to see it all over again editing my photos and writing this post. Thank you for inviting me over Lori!

Lewisia'Soranda Sunset' hybrids to wrap up the fun...

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All material © 2009-2024 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. What a great garden! I love the wooded site - and the Abies koreana and the Lupinus. All the seating, the metal work, and the pots were wonderful too.

  2. A beautiful place to live. It looks so peaceful yet alive, thanks to the trees and beautiful plants The Rhodo foliage is gorgeous.

    1. So many trees! I should have asked if they've ever done a count.

    2. AnonymousJuly 04, 2024

      We’ve never counted but what a fun factoid to have. We’ll put it on the garden to do list :)

  3. AnonymousJuly 03, 2024

    what a beautiful and graceful garden...what is the tall plumey stuff on the bocce ball pic (#36? Also, do the agaves stay year round in the cement block planters?
    love this garden!

    1. Bamboo! But I don't know what specie . As for the agaves yes, I do believe they're planted in the cement. The species they selected are cold hardy and being up against the house, under the eaves, I'm sure they stay pretty dry.

    2. AnonymousJuly 04, 2024

      The bamboo is Chusquea culeou. It doesn’t run. The clump just gets a bit wider every year.
      Loree is correct. The agaves are planted in the cement containers, which have no bottoms. They just sit on the gravel driveway. The drainage is excellent. Some winters we have covered them to keep the rain out if we know it will be raining for days on end. But they stay pretty dry for most of the fall winter weather with the overhang protecting them. We stop watering them in September.

  4. Absolutely breathtaking! It reminded me a bit of my parents' home and garden that they moved to after my brother & I left home. They lived for 18 years on the east fork of the Lewis River above Moulton Falls. Their house was shingled and the trim color was the same! They were avid gardeners and very respectful of the natural surroundings. It was a magical place that we all miss very much.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, I had to look up Moulton Falls because I'd not heard of it before.

  5. AnonymousJuly 04, 2024

    That’s exactly what I might have expected from the Vollmers, only so much better! What a great garden.
    Jane / MulchMaid

    1. AnonymousJuly 04, 2024

      Thank you Jane, for your sweet comment.
      The Vollmer’s

  6. AnonymousJuly 04, 2024

    Thank you so much for a most enjoyable tour of a stunning and what I think of as a PNW garden. Loved everything about it. Those two chairs on the deck! 🤩
    Mary P

    1. It is very PNW, you're right about that.

  7. Oh my gosh, I love all the metalwork and the containers in the lush wooded setting. Such a lovely, refreshing garden. You can tell how much time the Vollmers enjoy being outdoors. I am so glad you got to go and share with us.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, it's pretty darn special.

  8. What an amazing walk through, thank you for sharing. Just beautiful, this is truly incredible. And rhubarb treat to start? It doesn't get any better than that!

    1. Right? All around a fantastic afternoon!


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