My visit to Portland included some of my favorite public gardens and a few private gardens that have been featured on other PDX tours. To be honest, I have been apprehensive about my visit. I have suffered terrible bouts of home sickness and was worried that this would plunge me into a funk. Especially since it's Oregon PLUS fabulous gardens.
I'm happy to report that I'm home and in pretty good shape. I DO miss the hydrangeas but the truth is, other than this lovely climbing hydrangea, they can be a pain to grow. Those big ole leaves wilt in summer no matter how much you water. The climbing variety is better but needs constant pruning. The stems are brittle and can't be easily fashioned into wreathes like grape vines. I do have one hydrangea in my Austin yard - a carefully shaded oak leaf that gave me a little bloom this spring and should pop out some red foliage this fall.
This lovely vine was in the Lan Su Chinese Garden. When this garden was first installed I could not even imagine how they could put a garden in old town. Not only did the designers pull it off, it is a peaceful respite from the bustle of Portland. The plants, the water, the carefully placed pebbles in the pathways are all designed to embrace the visiter in a sense of peace and well-being.
We also visited Timber Press, Cistus Nursery, Joy Creek Nursery, Old Germantown Gardens and Westwind Farm Studio. Westwind Farm Studio features a lavender field and the day we were there was part of the Oregon Lavender Festival.
This staircase choked with daylillies at Westward Farm Studio really illustrates the English-style gardening that one associates with Portland. From my own experience, part of this approach is to out compete the weeds. All that rain does more than nurture flowers.
Even in the midst of all this biomass, I keep getting drawn back to Texas. It doesn't hurt that I love hot bright colors and have been building drought-tolerent gardens for years now. Nevertheless, I employ my Portland-style of gardening here in Austin. The difference being that instead of blocking weeds I'm focused on shading the ground. Bare soil dries out quickly and burns off the carbon from my compost.
When I got home I did a quick tour of the yard to see how it survived without me watering it. It didn't look too bad and I made a note where my design echoes that of the gonzo gardens in Portland. A plant here, a corner there, a droop of bloom onto the pathway.
I think I'll survive just fine.