Visiting Portland, Oregon

I guess I should say “Re-visiting Portland” inasmuch as I have lived here for a total of around 8 years. I flew in from balmy Louisville last evening, sans jacket and any remotely cold weather gear, finding mysef shivering after a walk in the local ‘hood of my brother’s. Now relocated to a splendid relatively older neighborhood, Mike and his lovely wife Lisa bought new digs. The house is a gorgeously re-worked older place, circa 1900-1920, hard by MLK Drive on the East side of the Willamette.

(enlarge images by left clicking)

It fits well in this old working class Neighborhood and is an absolute delight of a comfy place. Turns out one of the neighbors on the right – who have renovated their own slice of Heaven, complete with a fascinating and minimalist, Japanese-esque arches I will feature later – works at Portland Nursery, a very well-regarded gardening local iconic temple of interest and high quality stuff.

Like so very many Portland premises, exotic and rather unique species mix with local standard planting, forming totally unique arrangements of bold experimentation and real cool style. Check out this amazing, totally white Bleeding Heart, compared to the original species characteristics below:

This – your standard Bleeding Heart – is almost ready for Prime Time. In fairness, I don’t want to guess when it will be planted, but I do like what it’s doing these days.

Another view below with a cool Hellebore foreground:

Portland’s gardeners are exceedingly experimental. Naturally, a great deal of this stems from Oregon’s role as a major nursery supplier to the entire continent. Most of the grass seed sold in the US is generated in smooth green fields seen in the areas south of Portland itself.  The nurseries here distribute merchandise throughout the US and Canada regularly, with massive farms dotting the landscapes everywhere. Thus, it is never a mystery why the locals take such pride in the diversity of the exceptional range of plants so ideally suited to the geography of the Willamette River Valley and it’s rich soils and steady rainfall.

You can see some fairly freaky stuff!

Here’s a very favorite plant of mine, the fairly mundane (locally) Lily Of The Valley, or Pieris Japanica, which can come in various hybrid forms. This is your standard version, if perhaps a bit miniature:

I really enjoy walking Portland neighborhoods during these periods when everything is busting out or in season. This is a city of avid gardeners and heavy researchers, pleased at working with dirt and plantings and patient enough to ensure that it all knits together well. Little pockets of beauty show up at regular – if indeterminable – intervals, such as yet another pretty Hellebore  mixed with Bishop’s Wort.

Proving its unique style on a regular basis, I took a tour on Williams Street close nearby and found the usual fascinating zaniness of Portlandia’s style and verve. Check out businesses and commentary you probably won’t see anywhere else.

Buy a dress!!

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