Garden Diary - September 2008

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18 through 24 September 2008

Garden Writers Association in Portland, Oregon

18 through 24 September 2008

It's time to go to Portland where the Garden Writers Association is holding its 60th annual symposium. No, not Portland, Maine, but across the country to Portland, Oregon. I've been there before, for other symposia and also presenting lectures to gardening groups. It's a wonderful city, GWA has fascinating symposia with informative lectures, great garden tours, and many of my friends are going. I briefly shilly-shallied, then registered for the conference, booked my flights, and reserved a hotel room. Fasten your seatbelts and hold tight, we're on our way!

Portland Nursery Park(ing) Day Powell's City of Books GWA Trade Show
Northeast Portland Gardens In the Wet with Hydroponics Terra Nova Nursery Heuchera Heaven
Iseli Nursery Plant Nerd Night Phyto for Plants Portland's Japanese Garden
Classical Chinese Garden Lady McDonald's Garden Elk Rock Gardens of Bishop's Close Eugene After Tour Gardens
Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne's Garden Wildwood Restaurant . One Last Garden

Wednesday, 24 September
One Last Garden

Tuesday, 23rd September
Wildwood Restaurant

Tuesday, 23 September
Eugene After Tour
Under Construction

University Street Walking Tour: Colleen and Brad Stangeland

Round Robin Tour: Marcella and Glen Moore; Debbie Olsen; Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman; Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne

Today's outing not only provided busloads of garden writers with a neighborhood walking tour of University Street gardens in Eugene, Oregon, it loaded us up for a round robin tour of three more gardens, before finishing up at Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne's Northwest Garden Nursery. Three buses, three gardens - nice synchronicity, don't you agree?

Garden of Marcella and Glenn Moore

Debbie Olson's Green Roof Garden

Garden of Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman

Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne's Garden

Monday, 22nd September
Elk Rock Gardens of Bishop's Close

Monday, 22nd September
Lady McDonald's Garden

Monday, 22nd September
Classical Chinese Garden

Poetically named Lan Su Yuan, The Garden of the Awakening Orchid, Portland's Classical Chinese Garden is a magical labyrinth of buildings, pavilions, walkways and walls, plants and sinuously water-hollowed limestone in the style of a Ming dynasty scholar's garden.

Monday, 22nd September
Portland's Japanese Garden

Monday, 22nd September
Phyto for Plants

Sunday, 21st September
Plant Nerd Night
Under Construction

Sunday, 21st September
Iseli Nursery

Iseli Nursery may be located in Boring, Oregon but that hardly applies as an adjective!
Premier source for conifers, Japanese maples, unusual woody plants, and unique trained specimen plants.

Sunday, 21st September
Heuchera Heaven

Terra Nova Nurseries began with heucheras, and Dan's passion for these plants continues today.

Sunday, 21st September
Terra Nova Nursery

Spacious enough to accommodate busloads of garden writers, Terra Nova Nurseries display gardens
showcase drifts and sweeps of wonderful plants in elegant combinations.

Saturday, 20th September
In the Wet with Hydroponics
Under Construction

Saturday, 20th September
Northeast Portland Gardens

Urban Edibles / Lilyvilla / Fabulous Foliage / Laughing Spirit Garden / Hardiman Horticultural Haven

The idea was that after the morning lectures we would load the buses and drive off to see some not-too-far-away city gardens. Each bus would start at a different garden. All would drive in a continuous loop. As long as you made the last bus, it wouldn't matter if you got on the same one on which you began the tour. Terrific idea. With one major glitch. We had three hours, including driving time. And the original, rather optimistic six gardens were expanded to eight. You could, I suppose, spend more time at fewer gardens. But how do you know that the ones you chose not to see weren't more to your taste than the three or so you did visit? A conundrum. By the time the bus I was on was a couple of gardens into the tour we were behind schedule. Meaning we'd pull up to a garden, the bus captain would announce "We have 10 minutes here." And that included getting 40 or more people off the bus. Needless to say, no one saw all the gardens. My group began with the third garden and made it to number eight. At that, six gardens were more than some other groups managed to see. And the ones I saw all had something special, informative, interesting, attractive to share with me.

Urban Edibles

Lilyvilla Garden

Fabulous Foliage

Laughing Spirit Garden

Hardiman Horticultural Haven

Friday, September 19th and Saturday, September 20th
Garden Writers Association Trade Show

Vendors at the trade show love garden writers. We write magazine articles, we write newspaper columns. A few of us have pod casts, radio or TV shows. We teach classes. So when it comes to product, garden writers get out the word.

This is a major deal. Huge wooden cases filled with posters and papers and display booths, plants and pots and tools and more.

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Friday, 19 September
Powell's City of Books

O.K. So why is it so imperative that we get to Powell's City of Books, and why do I shove other garden writers in their direction? It's like this. Chain stores such as Borders or Barnes and Noble are an improvement over mall stores like Walton's or B. Dalton. They have coffee bars and comfy chairs, a wide range of magazines and a diversity of books. But . . . . and here's the caveat - they only sell new books. And while there are numerous cookery books, gardening is shrinking, barely a couple of shelves last time I looked.

And then there's Powell's City of books, covering a full city block
with several floors of books on any topic a biblioholic might desire.

And notice the emphasis. It's used and new books. Here, you must understand, new and previously owned books are shelved side by side. So one never knows what might be found.

68,000 square feet of books. Sure hope the floors are well reinforced! Rooms are color coded, and it is a warren of corridors that lead from here to there. So many topics, the master sign is blurry at size you see here.

Let's post one column. There, that's better. Twenty-two topics including aisle after aisle of gardening books in the Orange Room which, fortunately for me, contains gardening and cooking and crafts.

Though I did go to the Rose Room for a quick look at floras, field guides, and foraging, and another foray into the Pearl Room where Gloria had discovered landscape design books were housed. Good thing we had merely to go upstairs and down. Technical and computer books are in a different building. They're open until 11:00 p.m., 365 days a year.

Powell's City of Books ship, too. And that's a good thing.

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Friday, 19 September
Park(ing) Day

Now it is Friday. My roommate, Gloria Day, arrived from Pennsylvania last night. She's a garden writer by virtue of her lectures, wearing other hats of landscape maintenance, garden consultation and design with her business of Pretty Dirty Ladies. Since we have the morning free, I explained that when one is in Portland, it is imperative to visit Powell's City of Books. Gloria was not previously aware of this fact, but was good to go. So after we had a pleasant breakfast at the hotel we strolled around the corner to ride the MAX line into the city center, pleased to find that both our starting and ending points were within the freefare zone. Rather than transfer to a bus we decided to walk the half-dozen blocks to the bookstore. So glad we did! because it turns out that today is Park(ing) Day.

"What" you might well ask "is Park(ing) Day?"

Park(ing) Day is a one day event where parking places are turned into parks.
And not just in Portland either. It began, I believe, in San Francisco and spread to other green cities.

Here is one grand little garden, complete with turf lawn, native Oregonian trees and shrubs at one end, and plants suitable for green roof gardens at the other. The two designers are students in the architecture department and in city planning at Oregon State University. And clearly their park(ing) place park is attracting attention.


Here's another park(ing) place park, though this one is more of an apartment. What fun! I wish we'd know of this in advance, perhaps with a map of the different locations.

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Thursday, 18 September
Portland Nursery

The conference proper starts mid-day on Friday, 19 September. So why am I heading out on Thursday morning? A couple of reasons. These days, air travel is subject to delays. If I am subject to any such aggravation I'd rather it was not the day things were actually scheduled to happen. Furthermore (and better yet) I know that if I get there early I'm sure to find something unanticipated and very pleasant to do. Making the time change of "as you go west, time is less" work for me. So off I head to Newark Liberty Airport in the dark on Thursday morning for a 9:10 a.m. departure and happily enough find another four garden writers are on the same flight. Six hours later we're in Portland, where it is barely afternoon.

Collect my luggage, off to the hotel, unload luggage in my room, and call Dan Heims. He's collecting a van-load of people for a welcome-to-Portland tour of a nursery, his garden, drive-by in Washington park, micro-brewery, and dinner. Welcome to Portland, indeed!

Once we do, oh my, there are display gardens and plants for sale and all sorts of things to admire.


Just consider this kiosk.

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