Heading west

With a full time work schedule, hours of labor spent keeping weeds from taking over the garden, and frequent hikes in the nearby Blue Ridge mountains it is difficult to arrange visits to the many local public and private gardens that I enjoy so much. When I can get out, I’m inspired by all, which inevitably results in additional plantings that my wife reminds me there is no room for. Everything will fit, I assure her, though this often entails a bit of rearranging to be certain newly acquired treasures are as ideally situated as is possible. Rarely is this truly ideal, but most everything works out.

This week I’m called by business to visit the Portland, Oregon area. I’m headed west a day early to climb some west coast mountains, but also to visit a garden or two, a yearly joy that has been interrupted the past two years. The climate in the northwest is ideal for many of the plants I enjoy, with low humidity and somewhat cooler temperatures, particularly nighttime summer temperatures that often stress east coast plants.

Almost no one grows the big leafed Rhododendron sinogrande so I am tempted to dig one out of the garden, stash it under my shirt and stuff it in my luggage. This plan has several obvious flaws.

Much of the northwest coast is dominated by towering evergreens, so varying sizes and textures of foliage are often emphasized in the shaded gardens, with fewer flowers by necessity. The few sunny gardens are dominated by conifers, a look I enjoy and once preferred, but now my preference is for large leaves and varied textures (above and below).

Combinations of varying greens and leaf shapes are my ideal, but these will never grow so lush in my Virginia garden.
I can grow various mayapples and ferns, but not with such exuberance.
The marginally cold hardy Scheflerra delavayi has survived consecutive mild winters in the garden, but now I must have Schefflera taiwaniana though it is said not to adapt well to humidity.
More big leaves, above and below.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Monique Wilson says:

    I absolutely love the Japanese garden in Portland. I never get tired of visiting it.

    1. Dave says:

      I liked the garden a bit better when it was simpler, before buildings were added, but it’s still beautiful.

  2. Jeane says:

    I’m with you- I love big leaves and textures but don’t have enough of them here. That large-leaved rhodie is awesome, and wow the variegated mayapples. I didn’t know they existed! I’ve always liked the plain ones I have, but now they seem so- ordinary.

    1. Dave says:

      There are a few of the mayapples in my garden, but the spotted types are quite expensive and slow to multiply here. Unfortunately, one of the large leafed varieties was damaged by a late freeze so there’s nothing above ground. Maybe next year.

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