Dispatches from Bend, OR

I’m over here in Bend for the Labor Day weekend doing family stuff, visiting my dad and Julie’s parents…dealing.  I worked my way through the first draft of an article/posting on everyone’s favorite Manzanita, isn’t it, Arctostaphylos patula, with a sustainable landscape spin.  I met two old friends at the 6th Annual Little Woody, a celebration of beers aged in barrels, mostly bourbon or wine, 24 breweries with 40 decisions to make.  Needless to say they got easier as we worked our way around.  If you’re a beer snob and like to wow your friends with talk of original and final gravity, A.B.V. and what the right balance of I.B.U.s might be, this is for you.  It’s still a modest sized crowd that attends.  Don’t expect pints, just good beer, with a twist and extra ooomph!

Today, though I’m between things and went for a walk with plants in mind, Arctostaphylos foremost, and set out to look a little closer at some of Bend’s more public ‘scapes, in their roadways not their Parks.  Bend is known for its ubiquitous and proliferating traffic circles so I checked this one out on SW 14th, on Bend’s westside.  They are all planted from a native palette.  A couple of bronze deer were curious what I was doing.  The light was glaring and my pictures less than I had hoped.

After that I was cutting through some commercial spaces on my way to check out Bend’s newest booze joint, Back Drop Distilling, it’s sharing space with Good Life Brewing, but the sign says they won’t be open until sometime later this fall, when I saw these Rhamnus frangula ‘Asplenifolia’ at a little US Bank branch office.  

US Bank with Rhamnus frangula 'Asplenifolia'

US Bank with Rhamnus frangula ‘Asplenifolia’

It’s always interesting to see commercial landscapes in different regions.  I’m somewhat surprised when they start using plants relatively new to the trade.  These are along a south wall, under drip irrigation and are over 6′ tall.  There are a few more on the west side, again complete with reflected sun, and the sun here can get intense at 3,600′.  I’ve never used them.  I think their a little odd and not in a good way.

A little further on I almost walked by another one of these Rhamnus before I realized it, growing in someone’s semi xeric looking parking strip.

Rhamnus frangula 'Asplenifolia' in someone's yard

Rhamnus frangula ‘Asplenifolia’ in someone’s yard

It gets a little lost here in the grouping of similar sized shrubs.  This one is much looser in habit than the Bank plants probably due to it’s somewhat shady site though pictures of mature plants I’ve seen seem to be somewhat lax as well.  I thought this warning by the Missouri Botanic Garden was interesting:

Rhamnus frangula is listed as an exotic invasive species to Missouri and the Midwest by the Midwest Invasive Plant Network. The species should not be planted in the Midwest where it can invade natural areas.”

It does give one pause.

Then around the corner from this Rhamnus I came across this planting and sign:

Vegie parking strip

Vegie parking strip

These plants are loaded!  The bed faces east and is 40′ long and 12′ across!  Can’t say I’ve ever seen this before.

On NW 13th, a block from where I lived 30 years ago, is this large narrow triangular island.  It used to be just that much more asphalt.  A few years ago the City Road Department did this.  I’m not going to hold my breath for PDoT to come around to transforming their areas like this.  In Portland we’re too tight and would rather have weed infested bridgeheads, street medians and entryways to Downtown.  The Portland road guys don’t seem to know much beyond Oregon Grape and Redtwig Dogwood.

13th st. xeric median

13th st. xeric median.  See all of those Pines and Spruce in the background.  Bendites love them.

Okay, maybe for those of you fantasizing about lush and verdant Elysian fields and dales, this looks a little…dead, for the desert aficionados out there though, this is amazing.  Look Ma no Cheat Grass or Knap Weed!!!  So I take a little closer look…

Chamaebatiaria millefolium

Chamaebatiaria millefolium

When’s the last time you saw such nice Desert Sweet? huh?  Bet you haven’t seen mille-folium like this since that drunken night with Achillea?


Penstemon rupicola (???)

And look at the dried up seed pods on this Penstemon!  Pretty hot, huh!  I love all of the sub-shrub alpine types.  In Bend they can grow these on flat ground!  No amendments!  Just don’t add water…at least not much.  I’ll have to come back in the spring to figure out for sure which one this is, but I’ll shoot off an e-mail to the City for now to see if there is anyone around who remembers.

I had learned this next one as Scarlet Gilia a wonderful late blooming annual though I have some pictures of this growing wild on Whychus Creek in late June over by Sisters.  Isn’t it the same thing?

Ipomopsis rubra

Ipomopsis rubra

Could be a better picture, but you can see how it jumps out at you backed by the Big Sagebrush.

Yucca rigida (?)

Yucca rigida (?)

Now I’m not sure which Yucca this is, rigida (?), none are native in this part of Oregon.  There are several here on this site that seem quite happy on a very low care site.

Penstemon barrettii(?)

Penstemon barrettiae(?)

The foliage and habit look right for P. barrettiae, I’ve had one on my retaining wall at home for (8?) years.  Again I’ll have to check.  It is a gorgeous Columbia Gorge cliff dweller.  All of that brown is spent flower and seed structures.

Ericameria nauseosa

Ericameria nauseosa

Commonly known as Rabbit Brush, though its sporting new nomenclature these days.  I learned this as Chrysothamnus.  It’s still Rabbit Brush.  My wife hates it as she’s developed an allergy to its late summer pollen.

photo 3-2

I just like this picture.  A sweep of Artemisia tridentata with a Chamaebatiaria in the background.  What’s not to like?

Now the next one is probably the most surprising to me to be growing in a road median.


Eriogonum umbellatum(?) Wild Buckwheat

That is such a cute little guy and there are a bunch of them scattered around this general area.  That’s the curb this one is next to.  Anybody know their Eriogonums?

Cercocarpus ledifolius - Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany

Cercocarpus ledifolius – Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany

I’m sorry about this picture.  Maybe with a real camera, not an I-phone, I could get this to focus.  Thirty years ago I had planted one of these in my front yard from Forest  Farm.  So I have an affinity for it having first seen it up in the Ochoco Mountains east of Prineville.

There are quite a few other species planted here, all of them xeric and all of them look as if they belong together.  I don’t know who they hired to do this, but I find it inspiring, especially after having worked the last 27 years in the public sector.  I think it’s amazing.

One last shot.

Stop! bad pruning

Stop! bad pruning

I took this picture because I love Ponderosa Pine, there are a dozen beautiful ones in the immediate area over 75′, but this tree!  15′ up they took out the top and it looks more recently like also a side shoot that had really started to caliper up and dominate.  One more still remains sweeping up to the north.  I thought it fitting that a stop sign is here.  “Stop Bad Pruning. Go directly to jail.  Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.”






1 thought on “Dispatches from Bend, OR

  1. Mark Griswold Wilson

    RE: your 13th St xeric median bit…You’ve written a thoughtful homage to the merits of a well-designed and regionally appropriate xeric landscape. And you’re right, I haven’t seen such a “nice [Desert Sweet] mille-folium…since that drunken night with Achillea” [!]

    Mark (the semi-retired ecologist)



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