Day 1 of the Portland Fling started out with breakfast and books at Timber Press Publishing. (Can you tell we were excited to be there?)
Bloggers packed the offices, browsing the stacks, mingling with staff and each other, while noshing on bagels and fruit and sipping coffee and mimosas - quite the juggling act!
Several Timber Press authors were in attendance (some more camera-shy than others).
We each left with bags full of goodies and a free Timber Press book from about a half-dozen recently published titles. (It was so very hard to pick, but in the end I chose the book Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn J. Hadden.)
From the publishing office, it was a short walk to Lan Su Chinese Garden, located directly downtown.
The garden takes up an entire city block and is designed to give the visitor a sense of what the private home and garden of a well-off Ming Dynasty-era family might look like.
Each section of the garden had a poetic name like "Hall of Brocade Clouds",
"Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain",
and "Knowing the Fish Pavilion".
Doorways gently lured visitors along the garden's many paths.
The stones in this path are laid out in such a way to soothe tired feet when walked upon barefoot.
I found myself drawn to the small, quiet spaces, like this garden near the Scholar's Study,
this big silent rock underneath a weeping katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum),
this flower carved into a bridge near a fish pond,
and this tiny white horse figurine surrounded by colorful saucers in the window of the teahouse.
After an hour, it was time to board the bus and trek several miles outside the city to Cistus Nursery.
Cistus was chock full of succulents,
trees, shrubs, and a ginormous metal bird statue.
The main greenhouse was called The Big Top. I loved the displays and seating areas inside. (Plus, there was coffee in the back.)
Hey, I resemble that remark. But slow down? No way!
Back on the bus to the next adventure -
Joy Creek Nursery, eighteen miles outside the city.
Here, we ate the world's yummiest brown bag lunch from Elephant's Deli while listening to a brief presentation by Dramm, then set off to tour the gardens and retail area.
Some gardens seemed to be primarily display gardens,
while others seemed to be growing spaces for nursery stock.
I've never seen so many rudbeckia in one space,
After a brief rest on the porch of the house, it was back on the bus to see two more gardens in this jam-packed day. To get to the next garden on Portland's Old Germantown Road, we had to hike up a bit of a hill from the road toward a big iron gate,
and around a circular drive with a sunny VW Beetle,
to this gorgeous home on 2 acres, full of winding paths through lush, layered landscapes.
At the top of the hill near the house was a greenhouse and pool.
This little shallow spot in the pool was just too inviting.
And right next to the shallow pool was this colorful little patio table, surrounded by all manner of tropical plants. Wouldn't you love to have coffee out here every morning? (On this sunny afternoon, we enjoyed orange-pineapple juice and freshly baked almond-chocolate pinwheel cookies, courtesy of the family baker. What a treat!)
A quick peek inside the greenhouse -
then back down the hill and onto the bus to the last garden of the day - Westwood Farm Studio, with a gorgeous grassy meadow designed by John Greenlee.
The "farm" is a working lavender farm, and the "studio" is a music studio - two music studios, in fact.
The home was designed by mid-century architect Pietro Belluschi, but we weren't there to tour that.
I enjoyed a foot-dip in the saltwater pool next to the 'yoga house',
then hiked up to a glass greenhouse on top of a lushly landscaped hill,
surrounded by daylilies and more daylilies,
and at the end of the path, found this charming guesthouse. Whew! Can I check in?
Thanks to Loree Bohl of Danger Garden, Scott Weber of Rhone Street Gardens, Jane Howell-Finch at MulchMaid, Ann Amato-Zorich at Amateur Bot-ann-ist and Heather Tucker of Just a Girl with a Hammer for putting together this wonderful day.
Next up - a recap of Fling Day #2 where I and 80 garden bloggers around the world converge on a Japanese garden, a rose test garden, an elementary school turned into a hotel and restaurant, and three fantastic private urban gardens on lots about the size of mine.
Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.