Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Day After Our Open Garden for the HPSO Study Weekend

IMG_2905Ultimately it has been rejuvenating and exhilarating, but for the previous several weeks, especially the last two, there has been much anxiety around my garden.  The usual litany of issues came up…failed plants, replacements that were slow, but realistic, in their efforts to establish and grow in, procrastination, a little trepidation, a vacation in March, in April and early June, I know, no tears for this one, and then throw in the freakishly warm dry spring with most of my soil looking like it was later July rather than June (Those of you who don’t know, the maritime Pacific Northwest, has normally dry summers…they just don’t usually start until July!), stressing new and established mesic plants as well as pushing them rapidly, and too often, through their flowering cycle…, and I was more stressed than my plants.  But all was good after hours of fretting and working while Julie prompted and supported me, showing great patience, and joining in by doing much of the necessary mulching, to help hide the worst scars, general clean up, needed painting, errands and the staging that helps everything look ‘finished’.  The response from Study Weekend visitors, were there really over 400?, was over-whelmingly positive.  We can all be overly critical of our own gardens.  We know their scars and faults intimately.  Friday and Sunday I was able to get to most of the other open gardens, Saturday was just too busy here, and like most garden visitors it is wonderful to see what others are doing, beautiful plants, perfect little vignettes, framing and views, things we have forgotten and others we hadn’t yet imagined, each garden unique with its own style, intent and feeling.  I think most of us are more forgiving of others errors, don’t see them or don’t feel them with such depth that the resident gardener might.  Overall, it has been a powerful and positive experience, one that I had been missing for awhile since I retired.  I highly recommend it to any gardener.  Now, we can kick back enjoy our garden and entertain friends as always intended…as long as it doesn’t fry!!! Continue reading


On Planting in Drought Conditions: the Relationship of Roots, Water and Soil

I had a novice gardening friend ask me the other day about planting the dry, xeric, part of her yard.  Many of you know how abnormally dry and warm a spring/June it’s been here.  Those of us with gardens requiring routine irrigation started a few weeks ago and we’re expected to be heading into an extended hot/dry period over the next 8 or 9 days with temps over 90 F. (While it is not unusual to experience 80+ deg. days here in June it is unusual when you look at our overall pattern this spring.  Remember that we can also have Junes where it is common not to get out of the 60’s with our famous Portland drizzle day after day while we wait for July and the ‘beginning’ of summer.)  She was anxious to get her new plants in the ground and was asking me about amendments as the soil was baked and hard…. Continue reading

On Healing the ‘Broken’ Urban Landscape: Portland’s Holgate Overpass & the Brooklyn Yards

This is the section south and adjacent to the west approach. It was rough mown in early June down slope to the Blackberries and east to the Box Elder in the background.  You can see the blue flowers of the Chickory.

This is the section south and adjacent to the west approach. It was rough mown in early June down slope to the Blackberries and east to the Box Elder in the background. You can see the blue flowers of the Chickory and the Fennel.

Walking the Holgate overpass across the Brooklyn Switching Yard, with its adjacent container operation, is anything but pleasant. Trucks, trains, blasting horns and the four lanes of traffic whizzing by next to the 5′ wide sidewalks wipe away the positives of the views across the river and to downtown.  Most people probably don’t think of places like this as ‘landscapes’, but in the broader sense they are. Landscapes, most simply, are the places that we occupy, whether they are artfully designed, narrowly utilitarian, neglected, forgotten or simply dismissed. They become ‘landscapes’ through our occupying them or merely perceiving them. They are places we are in relationship with. Holgate is a traffic corridor for automobiles. Here is where it crosses the north south railroad line and the region’s major container handling yard. Car and truck traffic are heavy, at times, nearly non-stop. This is the only east-west route between Powell Blvd. and Bybee, and Bybee is intended for, and used by, more local traffic. It is loud. Traffic typically is moving a 35-45 mph although it’s posted 30.  The sidewalk is relatively narrow and this zone of unpleasantness is over a third of a mile long, an expanse from which there is no ‘escape’ for the pedestrian beyond enduring it. Since I retired, and weather permitting, I walk it once or twice a week on my way to the gym for a swim. Continue reading