Friday, July 25, 2014

Portland Fling: Two Gardens I Almost Missed!

It's hard to believe it has been over a week since I returned from the Portland Garden Bloggers' Fling.  My mind is still filled with images of all the beautiful gardens we visited.  Where to begin to describe this experience to you?

Shoreline at Ecola State Park
The logical place to start would be at the beginning of the journey as Daughter and I arrived a day early and drove to the coast, visiting several seaside towns and state parks.  She wanted to share with me some places she had visited while living in Portland a few years ago, and I'm so glad we did--the scenes were breathtaking, even including a surprise whale spotting. 

But you want to see the gardens, right?  So instead of beginning at the beginning, let's start at the end of the first day of the Fling.

Sunlight falling on Old Germantown Gardens

Let me set the scene for you:  bright and early at 8 AM, eighty garden bloggers congregated in the hotel lobby to begin a short walk toward Timber Press and later to the Lan Su Chinese Garden.  Then we boarded buses for a visit first to Cistus Nursery and then to Joy Creek Nursery. More on all these places later, but I will say that I valiantly resisted the urge to buy any new plants, partly because many of them were hardy only to zone 7 (I'm 5b/6) and partly because I didn't know how I would fit them in my suitcase for the flight home.

Looking toward the house from the back of the garden at Old Germantown
By the time we had finished lunch at Joy Creek Nursery, I was ready for a nap--I'd been up since 5 AM since I was still operating on Central Time.  And it was hot!  My few previous visits to Portland had given me the impression that the climate was always mild and pleasant, but that wasn't the case this weekend.  Temps were in the 90's, and droplets of sweat were already pouring down my face, making me a bit cranky.  I found a shady spot to sit and rest a bit and opened the program booklet our well-organized hosts had provided for us.  If only we were close enough to the city center for me to catch a cab, I would skip the next two stops and retreat to the comfy bed in my cool hotel room to rest for awhile before the evening banquet.

Alas, we were too far out for cab service, so I boarded the bus again, resigned to sweltering the rest of the day.  And am I glad I did!  If I had missed the last two gardens of the day, I would still be kicking myself.  Instead, my only regret is that when we arrived at Old Germantown Gardens, I decided to take only my phone so that I wouldn't be encumbered by my camera case.  Thus, the photos of this garden don't do it justice.

Old Germantown Gardens is located on a two-acre wooded hillside.  According to our guidebook, it contains "a wealth of garden diversity," which was quickly apparent as we strolled up and down hilly paths past perennial beds crammed with unusual and familiar plants, woodland plantings, a rock garden, and a dry hillside.

Portland gardeners are fortunate in that it seems they can grow almost anything from perennials commonly found in the Midwest and Northeast to succulents and cacti normally associated with the Southwest.

One of the trees that caught my eye--well, actually, my ears and nose noticed it first--was this unidentified specimen.  A sweet fragrance wafted on the air, and the sound of swarming bees made many of us stop and look around for a beehive.  No beehive was to be found, however; instead, the tree was just swarming with bees enjoying the sweet-smelling blooms.  It looked somewhat like a viburnum, and yet none of us were quite sure what it was.

A greenhouse next to the patio containing pools was filled with tropicals.  The owners said that other than the patio and other hardscaping, and I assume the greenhouse, they had created the garden completely by themselves, including the terraced paths and beds.  Although they have lived here for 23 years, I just can't imagine all the work that went into this garden--amazing!

So much to see, I know I must have missed something.  But we were invited to the house once we had viewed the garden and get another view from the deck overlooking the garden.  Can you imagine looking out over this as you enjoy your morning coffee?  Absolutely stunning!

This garden reminded me of one of my favorites from the Asheville Fling, and others who had also attended that Fling agreed with me.  The Gentling garden in Asheville was also on a wooded hillside, and although there are obvious differences, the total effect on me was the same--a beautiful piece of paradise.  To top it off, Jerry and Bruce welcomed us inside to enjoy a respite from the heat along with some refreshing lemonade and the best ever chocolate-almond cookies warm from the oven--delicious!

Check out the Garden Bloggers' Fling Facebook page for some fantastic photos of this field.
As I boarded the bus feeling a bit refreshed and delighted with all that I had seen, I remarked to my Kate, my delightful seat mate, that I couldn't imagine how anything could top the Old Germantown Gardens.  I was in for a pleasant surprise, though--our final destination was Westwind Farm Studio. Located high above the city, the main garden of Westwind covers four acres surrounded by 40 acres of meadow and forest.  Our first view was of a large lavender field; before I left, I cut a few sprigs of lavender--with permission, of course--which I later carried home in my suitcase.  I had the best-smelling dirty laundry ever!

The main garden, however, was down the hillside and behind the house.  Swaths of daylilies bloomed alongside many native plants.

One of the more intriguing plants for me was this Fireweed Chamaenerion angustifolium.  I had seen this plant growing in masses along the roadside as we drove to the coast earlier in the week and wondered what it was.

The name Fireweed comes from its tendency to grow in disturbed soil, often the first plant to appear after forests have been cut down or burned.  According to one source, it grows to 4 feet in height, but obviously it can grow much taller!

This is a garden for wildlife.  Near the house deer-resistant plants have been chosen.  But beyond that, in the meadow plants were chosen for the birds, bees, coyotes, and even deer. The 'Jacob Klein' Monarda was a favorite of the hummingbirds.  Many of us were captivated by the numerous hummingbirds dancing about these flowers.  I spent a lot of time trying to capture a photo of one with no luck, and I finally gave up and just enjoyed the delightful show they put on.

At the end of this long, hot day, many of us found the perfect place to enjoy the view--a salt-water pool.  I didn't take nearly as many photos of Westwind as I would have liked, but I'm not sure they would have done it justice anyway.  Instead, I simply enjoyed the beauty and serenity of this peaceful place.

And when I say enjoying the view, this is what I'm talking about--looking down through meadows and woods upon the city, a world away.

Three hours earlier, I was ready to head back to my cool hotel room.  But when it was time to leave Westwind, I was tempted to miss the bus:)  I would have been content to spend the rest of the evening...and the next day here!  It was a long day in the heat, but I am so glad I didn't miss these two fantastic gardens, Old Germantown and Westwind Farm Studio.


  1. It was great to meet you at long last :)

    Like you, I was rather cranky by the time we got to these gardens, but the organisers were very wise in saving these until last.

    I must admit to a sneaky paddle at Old Germanstown - very refreshing!

  2. VP, So wonderful to finally meet you as well! Wish we could have had more time to chat. Yes, I think the organizers of the Fling knew what they were doing by leaving these for the last on this day. I could have sat by that pool gazing at the view all evening!

  3. It sounds like a wonderful tour. Your first photo reminds me of my great aunt's garden, in Germany, when I visited when I was 12. The grassy area in the center was just big enough to walk a bit on, and the garden surrounded it just like that. Strawberries grew everywhere at the edge, and we would pick them for breakfast each morning. However, I don't understand how just two people could maintain such a wonderful garden!

  4. Oh my, that last place is incredible! The swaths of lavendar, and the placement of the blooming plants on the hill--wow, gorgeous! Good thing you stayed with the group. I'm so glad you felt better as the tour continued. Thanks for sharing. Your camera phone photos are great!

  5. Hmm, definitely not gardens to miss, very different from one another but both look extraordinary.

  6. What beautiful pictures. Was enthralled to see the unspoilt sea views.
    We're surrounded by water hon this small island but would have to travel some distance to get to a place of such beauty.
    The gardens are so lovely too. Well worth the trudge in the heat!
    Lovely light formation in that second picture labelled the Old German town Gardens.
    Thanks for your suggestion that my clematis might be Jackmani. I had wondered about that.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  7. Stunning gardens Rose.
    How lovely to dip your toes in water on a hot summers day.

    I love to see fields of lavender.....I always joke, if I have to die, it would be amongst the lavender fields :)
    What a great idea to put some cuttings in your luggage....sweet smelling grubby laundry, made me smile.

    Beautiful view from the last garden.......

  8. I adore that photo you opened with. It just sets the scene for what is to come and says so much about that part of the country. The gardens are amazing and are you telling me Germantown is a private person's garden? Holy cow is that ever stunning. I wish I had the time and energy to devote to making my yard look even a quarter that good. The view from that deck is amazing.

  9. I would have loved a longer chat. We must book a slot on the bus together or a meal next time, especially if the buses split venues again. Whilst I understand why that was done, it did cut down the opportunities to get to know people.

  10. Thank you for sharing your photos with this wonderful place. I am delighted with the beauty of the garden. It is a real paradise !
    Have a nice Sunday :)

  11. It is amazing how a fascinating garden or two can take you right out of your misery. I love all of those conifers of the first garden. I would have loved to walk that space. I can't wait to see more of your impressions of the Fling gardens.

  12. Wow, it's amazing what two people can create, even in that many years! The Old Germantown garden looks so amazing with all those plants on the hill. I'm really impressed with how they designed the garden with all those different conifers! What beautiful gardens you got to enjoy!

  13. It was a long hot day but you have good experience! I love your phone photos, it's your impression, the views are stunning, Rose!Especially photo#4 I liked the most!

  14. Cassi, I kept wondering, too, how two people could maintain this garden. I have enough trouble keeping up with my little flowerbeds!

    Beth, I wish I had taken more photos of the Westwind--it was gorgeous. I felt so at home here with so many native plants, I could have stayed forever!

    Janet, Yes, these two were very different from each other, but both absolutely beautiful. Just goes to show that a garden can be whatever you want it to be.

    Maggie, Living in the Midwest, I have to travel a long distance to see shoreline, so I am enthralled whenever I get to see the ocean. The coastline of Oregon is spectacular!

  15. Cheryl, I wish I had taken a better photo of the lavender fields, but I ran out of time. I wish I could grow it like that here. I can never get more than a couple of sprigs, maybe enough to make one sachet:)

    Marguerite, If I worked 8-10 hours a day and had a companion doing the same, I still couldn't have a garden like this. I know I'd rather sit on the deck and just enjoy it:)

    VP, As I have looked at a lot of the photos on the Fling Facebook page, I realized there were many bloggers I never talked to. I think the bus division really made a difference, though I understand its practicality. If the UK hosts a Fling, I'm in!!

    Ela, Paradise is a great way to describe both of these gardens.

  16. Lisa, I really missed you and Beckie here; I know you would have loved it, especially some of the places with lots of art. I did meet a lot of very nice people, though.

    Indie, I can't remember what they told us about the trees, but I know they removed some and planted others. Yes, I'd love to have all these conifers, too.

    Nadezda, My new phone has surprised me with its capabilites; I use it when I don't want to carry a heavy bag. Still, I wish I had had my good camera for the first garden.

  17. I think I would have loved Portland for that very first image at Ecola State Park. If I had missed that place I would have been disappointed. The gardens you showed looked large and very well done. I am not sure I would have been happy in 90° weather either. That was one thing I did not like about San Francisco.

  18. That was definitely a long day but it was so incredible, too. I absolutely loved both gardens you featured. I missed sticking my feet in the pool. It would have been tempting to dive right in!

  19. What gorgeous gardens! I love the view from the deck, I could certainly imagine having a drink there and admiring the view.

  20. Sounds like despite the heat you had a great time. I think I would have been sitting with my feet in the salt water pool too!
    Next year the Fling is in Toronto so perhaps I will see you there.

  21. I wish I had traveled with you but seeing the photos was almost as good! Such a beautiful trip!

  22. The gardens are lovely, especially that last shot, but what took my breath away was the gorgeous seashore. Gorgeous landscape and photos!

  23. What a nice time for all. So glad you took us along!

  24. Thank you for all your lovely photos and description, it’s almost like if I have been there – seems like you have had a wonderful trip, looking forward to the rest of the photos :-)

  25. Hello, Rose! Gosh, I wish I had known you were on the west coast_ I certainly would have made an effort to have you visit us. Perhaps the next time you come this way, please let us know.

    Beautiful photos all and what appears to have been an extraordinary event. Hope you have a wonderful week.

  26. Diana, I thought of you and wished we could have gotten together. Originally, I had hoped to spend a few more days in Oregon, but we were on a tight schedule because of my daughter's schedule. Maybe next time!

  27. Those were really two fantastic gardens, and you took some great pictures (the bright light at Germantown did not make that easy). Of the two, though, I think I enjoyed Westwind Farms the most (though maybe that's just because it was cooler by then).

  28. Those were really two fantastic gardens, and you took some great pictures (the bright light at Germantown did not make that easy). Of the two, though, I think I enjoyed Westwind Farms the most (though maybe that's just because it was cooler by then).

  29. I don't know which is more spectacular, the ocean view or the gardens. Both of the gardens and the shoreline are so beautiful.

    Of the Old Germantown Gardens my favorite shots are looking up at the house and the last picture, showing the wonderful chartreuse tree and the evergreens.


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