Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mcmenamins Kennedy School

There are some places that you hear of over the years and you always tell yours, "one day I'll have to check that out." I was lucky to visit one of those places this summer. It was on my wee trip down to Portland that I decided to meet with "planty person" and friend, Loree (aka danger garden) at Mcmenamins Kennedy School before a garden visit.

I had the location in my GPS, but if you read my last post, or if you are a plant nerd like me, you know when you are approaching garden greatness well before your GPS can indicate your arrival.

Upon arriving, I was greeted by the beautiful glow of a Crepe Myrtle, a new obsession of mine.

What struck me as I walked around the garden was how healthy everything looked. After last winters ice storms, I had become accustomed to holes in the garden. Here, that was not the case.

Though my loquat was fine through last winter, it has never had a lush look like this. Garden envy was rising and I hadn't seen the half of it.

The afternoon was a bit smoky, but it provided tantalizing light that filtered through the lush foliage.

Kennedy School garden had quite a few anchor plants that set of the landscape around it. In my experience, this helps with some of the smaller tender plants that can benefit from the shelter or thirst habits of larger plants and trees. I don't know if they planned it this way, but it surely helps with their excellent collection of tender plants.

Another feature of the garden was excellent vignettes. I could have stopped to stare for hours, but there was so much more garden to see.

That bark!

As I approached the Nolina 'la siberica' in the corner of the parking lot, I knew I was in trouble. Not only had I come across drool worthy garden excellence, but the realization of how big a nolina can get freaked me right out (I will be moving plants... soon). Why are these not for sale at every nursery?!

It was easy to get taken away with the landscape and not pay attention to the smaller details. I really liked how they have mounded this desert bed with rock in order to provide superior drainage and added heat. Smart!

It was clearly paying off when examining the health of their plants. This drool worthy agave montana will be tried in my home garden.

This beautiful agave (parryi var. parryi?) stole my heart. *sigh*

As did this combination of yucca schottii and dasylirion wheeleri. Stunning.

I really appreciated how the Kennedy School garden was utilizing climate adapted plants that handle a cool wet PNW winter and thrive in our hot dry summers. Yes, I said, hot dry summers in the PNW. I think of plantings like this as forward thinking.

As I walked the grounds, I saw countless examples of  plants that deserve a greater presence in PNW gardens. Plants like this stunning yucca 'margaritaville' and manzanita. Not only were they thriving in the garden, but they acted as garden showstoppers!

This yucca looked more like the PNW version of Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta'

On the subject of showstoppers, the tetrapanax throughout the garden were quite impressive. This plant carries a bad rep, but from reliable sources, they are easily tamed in the Portland area.

Another successful feature of the Kennedy School garden was the use of colour and texture. The ghostly appearance of this agave ovatifolia 'frosty blue' was set off by the deep purples and greens surrounding it. Similarly, the pink blooms on this delicious Crepe Myrtle looks almost playful with this great plant combination.

Truly, everywhere I looked in the garden I was taken away. Be it from the soft blues of yucca schottii, to the olive greens of this stunning grevillea, the garden is a true gem and must see in the Portland area.

Looking down the sidewalk on my way out of the garden, I was left with this beautiful vignette. Positioned just perfectly to mesmerize garden goers such as myself, this perfect drimys lanceolata asks to stop and be appreciated. What plants have stopped you in your path recently?

Thursday, 31 August 2017

I'm Back. Thanks, Portland!

If you have followed this blog in the past, you'd know that I took a hiatus. If you had asked me, I would have told you it was a year - try 3. I don't know what did it. Maybe it was all the PKWs, maybe it was the lack exciting nursery stock, or maybe it was just a funk? My passion for plants and gardening certainly didn't change in that time. Over those years I settled into a new career and poured much of my time and attention into that. But something was nagging on me to return to something for me; to return to something that provides a source of passion and joy in ways that I can't effectively put to words.

I had been talking for years about taking a trip down to Portland to visit some gardens and nurseries that have long been on my radar. It was the Danger Garden that started my blogging aspirations in the first place. So I made a few texts and calls, and before I knew it, I was heading South on Interstate 5 for two days that would renew a spark that was missing in my life.

I set an address to my Airbnb in the GPS, and when arriving in Portland, Siri directed me to a detour that would save 5 minutes. Little did I know, this detour added 20 minutes of garden stalking goodness! I turned off of the I5 into a residential neighbourhood and my spiky plant radar went into hyperdrive. If you're a spiky plant nerd, you'll understand how and why you mysteriously slam on your breaks and make hard unannounced turns in traffic. It's real. Trust me.

Silly me didn't note what road this was (or the exit I took). All of my attention was on this! Eucalyptus, Crepe Myrtle, and Opuntia ... oh my!

I don't know about you, but Eucalyptus have a way of transporting me to Southern California. Add Crepe Myrtles which equal heat, and opuntia spikes which equal love and I was in a full on garden euphoria. And what's this? One of the nicest agaves I have seen in the Northwest - Agave montana (thanks, Danger).

But the awesomeness didn't stop there. Check out this increidble opuntia. I love the pale blue and olive green tones. An ID would be appreciated because I simply MUST have this plant. It is complimented beautifully by a pristine chamaerops humilis 'cerifera' in the background. Mine lost its main trunk after the winterzilla of 16/17. I wonder if this one is newly planted?

This garden so much evoked the Southwest. I loved it! Unfortunately no one was home to answer questions to the stranger lurking around their garden. Usually "planty" people are quite happy to answer questions. I'm sure the neighbours thought I was crazy what with the spastic driving, shrieks, mutterings ... again if you like spiky plants you understand.

Within minutes of arriving in Portland my heart was fluttering. My camera was officially dusted off, and my mind was going a mile a minute thinking about future plantings. I knew it was going to be a good trip. And if you've made it this far, yay, it was excatly what I needed to get my blog on (like "get ur freak on" ... but blog. No? Missy Elliott?)

 If you recognize this house or garden, please share, spiky planty people need to visit this place!