Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden – Early Spring Stuff

(click on images to enlarge)

Spring hit a second gear this past week. We had 3 days in the 70’s and the plants decided it was time to put it all together. Funny, it was a full month later last year when I visited this gorgeous urban garden, dead center in the middle of Portland. I now realize we caught the latest-blooming rhodies at that time and that we had missed something really special. Today’s trip through the garden was a revelation of early-blooming species of all types – from rhodies to Cherries to perennials and bulbs. This is an equally cool time to visit this place, my point being.

We were greeted by this charming couple as we arrived. The cherry tree above blossoming like some elegant aristocrat was taken from this spot, hard by our greeters. They were very untalkative and I got the impression they somehow even resented our presence. It’s funny how snobbery can cross species lines. I did not take it personally and showed my maturity by moving right on along to my destination.

This next picture is by my reckoning my best picture of the day. I happened onto this tableau during our first circle of the place and it nearly took my breath away. The picture below this one will show what the bronze highlight in the middle of those branches above emanate from – a Japanese Maple I never tire of photographing. If you enlarge this picture, you get a far better idea of what we were looking at. There are times I see absolute genius in this design. Which, come to think of it – is not very surprising.

I also never tire of the waterfall and running creek. This is set up magnificently with a moderate amount of water but an amazingly well-designed branching of the creek itself. Indeed, there is even another small feature 10 yards away with the smallest little waterfall – a precious and needless addition to perfection but one which is so welcome to the senses. This garden in many ways is an overload of beauty – if such a thing can be said.

It was nice catching the very, very early development of plants such as the Gunnera below. At this stage it is tentatively stretching out. In two months, those leaves will be as much as 6 feet across – apiece!

This outrageously huge and totally impractical plant is one I have actually planted – almost wherever possible in the North West, anyway. A water-lover, Gunnera amazes kids and has this built-in protective apparatus called thorns, lol, which keep people admiring from a distance. I guess it is the North West version of Cactus, in an odd way. But for sheer effect, few things beat the Gunnera for outrageousness.

This fern is getting ready as well. I have always loved seeing the way ferns “unfurl”. There is a sensuality to their development that is large and obvious. These plants become huge themselves over time and they show us why they are so severely pruned once finished for the year. Obviously, this plant loves starting over.

Even the reeds in the nearby lake are feeling their oats. With such a stunning local environment – the nearby golf course, the lake that separates the park from the golf course and all the just soothing sights and quiet sounds abounding here – this park remains one of my favorites the world over. I am personally delighted we take pride in our parks. I think the reasons for enjoying them – as well as my own personal feelings on the issue – are obvious in here.

There are abundant native plants as well. These Oregon Grapes are looking about as good as they can. Thise flowers will berry later in the season, yielding the Concord-like “grape” which gives this state plant its name.

Back to the rhododenrons – I can see I’ll have to divide this post up. Here are some splendid rhody shots of shameless beauty. I’ll finish my visit in another post. Enjoy………………

Man!  Is this one ready to “pop” or what?  😉

Thanks for dropping by. I’ll finish the visit in a couple days.

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