Sunday, August 3, 2014

Portland Garden Bloggers Fling - A Jam-Packed Day 1

Day 1 of the Portland Fling started out with breakfast and books at Timber Press Publishing. (Can you tell we were excited to be there?)
"Timber Press" publishers

Bloggers packed the offices, browsing the stacks, mingling with staff and each other, while noshing on bagels and fruit and sipping coffee and mimosas - quite the juggling act!
breakfast crowd

Several Timber Press authors were in attendance (some more camera-shy than others).
Authors at Timber Press

We each left with bags full of goodies and a free Timber Press book from about a half-dozen recently published titles. (It was so very hard to pick, but in the end I chose the book Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn J. Hadden.)

From the publishing office, it was a short walk to Lan Su Chinese Garden, located directly downtown.
Lan Su Chinese Garden

The garden takes up an entire city block and is designed to give the visitor a sense of what the private home and garden of a well-off Ming Dynasty-era family might look like.
Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland

Each section of the garden had a poetic name like "Hall of Brocade Clouds",
Hall of Brocade Clouds

"Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain",
flowers bathing in spring rain

and "Knowing the Fish Pavilion".
Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Doorways gently lured visitors along the garden's many paths.
courtyard doorway

The stones in this path are laid out in such a way to soothe tired feet when walked upon barefoot.
stone path

I found myself drawn to the small, quiet spaces, like this garden near the Scholar's Study,
Scholar's Study

this big silent rock underneath a weeping katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum),
tree and rock

this flower carved into a bridge near a fish pond,

and this tiny white horse figurine surrounded by colorful saucers in the window of the teahouse.
window of teahouse

After an hour, it was time to board the bus and trek several miles outside the city to Cistus Nursery.
Cistus Nursery, Portland OR

Cistus was chock full of succulents,
succulents at Cistus

spiky plants,
one of many greenhouses

trees, shrubs, and a ginormous metal bird statue.
Bird statue

The main greenhouse was called The Big Top. I loved the displays and seating areas inside. (Plus, there was coffee in the back.)
Under the "Big Top"

Hey, I resemble that remark. But slow down? No way!
"plant nerd crossing"

Back on the bus to the next adventure -
on the bus

Joy Creek Nursery, eighteen miles outside the city.
Joy Creek Nursery

Here, we ate the world's yummiest brown bag lunch from Elephant's Deli while listening to a brief presentation by Dramm, then set off to tour the gardens and retail area.

Some gardens seemed to be primarily display gardens,

while others seemed to be growing spaces for nursery stock.
clematis area

I've never seen so many rudbeckia in one space,
or monarda,

or clematis.
pink clematis


Texas clematis hybrid

After a brief rest on the porch of the house, it was back on the bus to see two more gardens in this jam-packed day. To get to the next garden on Portland's Old Germantown Road, we had to hike up a bit of a hill from the road toward a big iron gate,
up the hill through the gate

and around a circular drive with a sunny VW Beetle,

to this gorgeous home on 2 acres, full of winding paths through lush, layered landscapes.
Home and garden

birds eye view

At the top of the hill near the house was a greenhouse and pool.
view from balcony

pool and greenhouse

This little shallow spot in the pool was just too inviting.
cool feet

And right next to the shallow pool was this colorful little patio table, surrounded by all manner of tropical plants. Wouldn't you love to have coffee out here every morning? (On this sunny afternoon, we enjoyed orange-pineapple juice and freshly baked almond-chocolate pinwheel cookies, courtesy of the family baker. What a treat!)
lilies and banana

A quick peek inside the greenhouse -
inside the greenhouse

then back down the hill and onto the bus to the last garden of the day - Westwood Farm Studio, with a gorgeous grassy meadow designed by John Greenlee.

The "farm" is a working lavender farm, and the "studio" is a music studio - two music studios, in fact.
through the meadow

The home was designed by mid-century architect Pietro Belluschi, but we weren't there to tour that.
garden near house

I enjoyed a foot-dip in the saltwater pool next to the 'yoga house',

then hiked up to a glass greenhouse on top of a lushly landscaped hill,
garden near greenhouse

surrounded by daylilies and more daylilies,


and at the end of the path, found this charming guesthouse. Whew! Can I check in?
guest house

Thanks to Loree Bohl of Danger Garden, Scott Weber of Rhone Street Gardens, Jane Howell-Finch at MulchMaid, Ann Amato-Zorich at Amateur Bot-ann-ist and Heather Tucker of Just a Girl with a Hammer for putting together this wonderful day.

Next up - a recap of Fling Day #2 where I and 80 garden bloggers around the world converge on a Japanese garden, a rose test garden, an elementary school turned into a hotel and restaurant, and three fantastic private urban gardens on lots about the size of mine.

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Garden Bloggers Fling: Hello, Portland!

Mt. Hood from the airplane
Mt. Hood from the airplane window

I spent last weekend at an annual event called the Garden Bloggers Fling, touring public and private gardens in Portland, Oregon with two busloads of garden bloggers from the US, UK, Canada and Spain. The first Fling was 'flung' in 2008 by a group of Austin garden bloggers who thought it'd be fun to host a national garden bloggers' get-together and show them some of Austin's best gardens. Chicago, Buffalo, Seattle, San Francisco and Asheville have hosted Flings, and next year's event will be in Toronto.

It's a ton of work for the bloggers in each host city to coordinate schedules and draw up maps, reserve tour buses and block hotel rooms, arrange meals and secure sponsorships, in addition to work, family and home responsibilities. Thank goodness for their labors of love, because the Fling is always so much fun. By bloggers and for bloggers, Fling allows gardening fanatics to get to know each other in person while exploring and experiencing the heart of any host city - its gardens.

The weekend got an early start on Thursday evening with a pre-Fling cocktail party at beautiful Pomarius Nursery.
Pomarius Nursery

As I entered the grounds, I couldn't help but notice a vigorous red-stemmed vine near the entrance that was loaded down with what looked like kiwifruit or Chinese gooseberries. I've never seen those growing in Central Texas, sigh.
Gooseberries at Pomarius Nursery

Wandering the grounds with a glass of wine in hand, I spied several Portland bloggers and a renowned "guru of grasses" sporting head adornments featuring the flora of the region.
Kate Bryant and John Greenlee
Garden writer Kate Bryant with grass meadow expert and landscape designer John Greenlee

Ann at Pomarius Nursery
Ann Amato-Zorich of Amateur Bot-ann-ist

Let's get a closer look at Ann's homage to Frida Kahlo, Portland-style. Love, love, love the tiny berries, ferns, smoketree flowers and cattails!
Close-up of Ann's hair adornments

Did you notice the small white-flowering tree behind Ann? That's a hydrangea topiary. Can't grow those in Central Texas, sigh.
Hydrangea tree at Pomarius Nursery

I suddenly noticed several bloggers eating these amazing-looking tamales wrapped in banana leaves. They pointed me toward the Tamale Boy food truck parked near the entrance, where a queue was starting to form. Yummy dinner, hooray!
Tamale Boy dinner

After eating and chatting a bit, I shot a few more photos as the light began to fade. Ha - check out the Monarda didyma photobombing my wide shot.
wide shot of Pomarius Nursery

Several bloggers couldn't resist snatching up pots of Eucomis (pineapple lilies), and although I'm a bit sad I didn't spring for one, it's probably for the best. I'm certain it wouldn't like our cold winters, and I'd tire of lugging it in and out during our oddball winters.
pineapple lily flower

Another offering that caught my eye was this bonsai-sized conifer rock garden in a rugged hypertufa planter. Precious.
Bonsai conifer in hypertufa

I fell in love with these mini-ponds in heavy low pots,
mini-ponds at Pomarius Nursery

and the tables of potted succulents and tropicals in the greenhouse.
Inside the greenhouse at Pomarius Nursery

As we left, we were encouraged to take the table arrangements, donated by the California Cut Flower Commission,  so I quickly grabbed this pretty bouquet. Here it is, brightening up my hotel room the next morning.
pretty bouquet of flowers

What a perfectly lovely welcome to Portland! Thanks to Loree Bohl of Danger Garden, Scott Weber of Rhone Street Gardens, Jane Howell-Finch at MulchMaid, Ann Amato-Zorich at Amateur Bot-ann-ist and Heather Tucker of Just a Girl with a Hammer for organizing it all.

Stay tuned for a Fling Day #1 recap where I visit a leading garden book publishing house, a Chinese garden, two outstanding nurseries and two knock-your-socks-off private gardens in a single day! It might be a few days before I get to it - we just got three inches of rain and a 15 degree drop in temperatures, and I've got to get out and garden!

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.