Loading...

Follow Alyse Lansing Garden Design on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Creatively using nature in urban common areas

On the morning I came upon this pedestrian-only street in Portland, I had just been reading about using nature in the pockets between buildings in urban settings. The article by Cassy Aoyagi in Pacific Horticulture magazine** espoused using the power of nature’s tricks and beauty in the innumerable neglected strips and bits of land in cities.

Waterlogue app applied to my photograph—river birch on pedestrian-friendly Pennoyer Street, South Waterfront district, Portland.

I happened to be in the South Waterfront area, and looking for the public park that designer friends had recommended as worthy for its use of plants. I had been surprised that plantings were of note there, as South Waterfront has been YEARS in its recovery from industrial wasteland, especially slow in its progress with living things.

But the City has worked hard at the urban planning for this area, I knew. After perhaps 40 years of knowing and looking for the progress that visionaries once saw, I was finally, pleasantly surprised.

Elizabeth Caruthers Park on right. Pennoyer Street bisects the main road, on the left, just out of view.

I did find the park my friends had mentioned, and it was well done. But strolling Elizabeth Caruthers Park, I found myself more attracted to a common area across the street—a place not marked on any maps as a park.

I was drawn into its cathedral-like space, created by the canopy of skyward reaching trees.

I beelined to the grove of river birches on the left, the sun shining through their leaves, and the overlapping concrete planters that elevated their quality.

The size and proportion of the concrete planters was just right. With their trees and plantings, the space felt quite comfortable, even sandwiched between two high rises.

I was surprised how much water was in the planters. They appeared to be both runoff-filtering and a recirculating watercourse. The subtle cascades of water were unexpected, and thus the more delightful, even if they don’t make that great of a photo.


The whole composition is an interesting mix of soft and hard, nature and man-made.


.


Intriguing water courses

The river birches (Betula nigra ) are lovely here. Along with the cathedral effect, they give the dappled shade that’s important to both people and plants.

Grove of river birch (Pennoyer Street, north side of the John Ross building).

Note a design idea you may be able to use:
a single birch is outside of the straight curb lines. It juts further into the street than the others, thus “blurring the transition” between hardscape and plants, and breaking up the hard lines. This can be a way to make any linear space feel more natural.

River Birch, Betula nigra or cultivar

Directly across from the birch grove is another stormwater-filtering area adjacent to the building. The frosted glass panel and roof of this entry arbor was cool:


.


Imagine this place without the frosted glass. One can see how a bit of artistic detail like this adds much. It is “the jewelry.” The spot would be dull without it. It would be an ignored space.


In front of each building on Pennoyer Street, the signs give a hint to the greater story—that the park-like spaces on this street are actually private property, belonging to each individual building. Every landscaped piece here is a bioswale of some sort—in existence to filter stormwater runoff from the street and some of the building.

They are private, but they are not fenced off. Because the early designers thought ahead, all the stormwater/landscaped spaces are consistent in placement along the street, and they were wise enough to use the places as “nature relief” for the residents here. The signs try to keep the pets and people out of the spaces (to protect the plants and soil), but it is all still open as streetside common area.

On both sides of Pennoyer, multiple ways of filtering stormwater are showcased:

Right about here, I was thinking: “Portland, I love you.” I am so thankful for the humans who thought outside the box, years ago, and combined architecture, ecology, engineering, and imagination, to think of better ways to build.

I love repeating bridges like this…or any landscape with bridges for that matter. In this scene I enjoy the rhythm and clean lines of the built structures, next to natural forms. I like the feeling of passing over the top of a little garden-way.

Each of the above bridges goes to a condo unit’s front door.

Native Iris tenax in bloom at the front doors of the city homes.

Funny, I hadn’t noticed the house pup in this shot, eyeing the rain gardens he’s so clearly instructed to stay out of. This one did stay out (thank you, human!). Most were indeed law abiding.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
A quick stroll in the Portland Japanese Garden
Shadows from late winter sunI make a lot of trips to this garden. I have a membership and believe in this little place in every way. It’s a great place to go whenever you need to shake the clouds from your head.

Form and line, at the entrance to the Japanese Garden.

One morning recently, with a couple free hours between appointments, I had a spontaneous opportunity to stroll the Portland Japanese Garden. The weather could not have been better, so I seized the time I had, and hopped on up there.

View from OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing (south waterfront), 12th floor

From the south waterfront OHSU, where I’d just finished a doctor’s appointment, it was a quick drive up the back streets past the MAC club and the old Civic Stadium, past the Rose Test Gardens, to my arrival at the garden in Washington Park, on Kingston Street. Except for the south waterfront, this drive has not changed much in the 50 years since my youth. It’s old Portland to me, and steeped in memories. This put me in a warm and expectant mood.

Light streamed through the tall Douglas Firs behind the entrance.

I lingered at the entrance a bit, as it was a weekday morning in March, one of the least crowded times I’ve experienced since the garden’s 2017 expansion. I took the chance to photograph the entrance, which usually has too many people around to capture easily.


Entry garden bamboo.
Design elements: color and tone contrasts; use of horizontal and vertical lines; proportion and scale of each element in relation to each other—and in relation to the hillside forest behind it. Everything “feels right.”


I admire the bamboo staking in this garden, artistically and subtly executed. They situate the horizontal pieces exactly at the average person’s eye level, so that most of the gridwork that could distract the eye is “hidden.” I had to stand up on the water feature ledge to get this photo, and even then, it was hard to distinguish the lashing and how it’s done. I love the cleverness, and the thought that was obviously put behind that detail.


Craftsmanship in black screens

(Shout-out to Anna Kullgren for the attention to this one—she had seen and published these same screens, seemingly the same day I visited. The set of four screens is slightly hidden behind bamboo—you can see them in the background in the previous photo. Anna wrote a thoughtful piece about the meaning in these screens, all the more fun for me to read, as I had just spent some thoughtful time with them myself.)


Craftsmanship in black screens and curbstones--more examples of the attention to detail.

From the entrance, I continued up the hill to the new Cultural Village complex. This path is a little longer, relative to the rest of the garden, but is good for stretching legs and working out the kinks. It’s the section to shake off the city and spend a moment in the trees, traveling through.

When you arrive at the top, the space opens out to the Cultural Village courtyard. I spent a few moments in the gift shop and gallery, then stepped outside and started to notice the shadows.


Cultural Village terrace, facing south.


Since I didn’t take photos of the building this day, I’ll include some from two years ago, taken on April 1, 2017, opening day of the garden’s Cultural Village expansion. I’m including them so you can see the context of where I was standing in the photo above, just outside the gift shop.

Gift shop is straight ahead. Note the cut-outs in the pavers, where granite gravel is placed. (These cut-outs are alternatives to gutters at the roofline.) This is the cut-out seen in previous photo.

A bit of a side-track to today’s focus, but I can’t resist showing these—the little Tsubo Niwa, or courtyard garden—an example of a Japanese tiny urban garden. This one softens the transition of building to terrace. (Photo from two years ago.)


Tsubo-niwa garden


When I first saw this little space, I was blown away by the consideration put into every square inch.


Tiny garden, and drainage!

Continuing on

After passing through the courtyard, one enters the gate to the original garden. The long shadows continued to catch my attention, as the sun is only this low here in the winter—shadow patterns I don’t usually see.


Main garden gate is straight ahead—the old admissions booth.
Note the finely pruned red-barked pine.
It may be cliche, but it certainly draws me forward!


Beautiful bark, shadows, and ground plane, which, characteristically, is elevated with detail.

Such paving detail here also elevates the pine. It could be a Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora), but I believe it’s a cultivar of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris). Do give a shout in the comments if you know it.


Paving detail at the foot of the pine


Looking back through the original entry gate, back toward the red-barked pine...


...It's one of my favorite trees in the garden.

I looped through the Pond and Strolling Gardens, but they were less photogenic this day (or this time of year, to be honest), being cast in the shadow of the hill.

Then I stepped out into the Flat Garden, blessed by sunlight.


I was again struck by the shadows...and how bright the sun was upon the moss.


The Flat Garden is a broad expanse of space, and its raked gravel is designed to mimic a lake, or to emulate a sea in miniature.

..
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Wednesday Vignette - Quail!Video: the covey of quail that have been visiting our yard this winter, eating the birdseed Joe’s been spreading on the ground. Such fun to watch them!

Today’s “Wednesday Vignette” features the quail; blooming witch hazel (Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’); the area of our yard currently under construction; and the various winter menagerie that hangs around this place!

The quail are feeding in the area below our living room windows that we’ve been gradually excavating into terraces, while also building a deer fence. Soon there will be gravel patios here (photo below).

Blooming Witch Hazel, and quail

California Quail. (Sorry for poor picture quality!)

I believe these are native California Quail (Callipepla californica). My lens isn’t long enough to see much of their cute top knot feathers, bobbing as they feed. But the video’s better.

The quail’s usual behavior is ground dwelling, but they’ll fly up into things as well. In the photo above, most are on the ground, and one (circled) is watching from new fence beam.
You can also see the painted patio lines, which were stronger before the snow. (Photos for this blog were taken over about three different days.)

Visible to the right in the quail pictures, is the almost-finished deer fence. This is the section with the biggest gate, most seen from the living room windows. Panels of wire “remesh” (welded wire mesh, made for concrete reinforcement), will be installed in the open areas, after some more excavation. A gravel patio will be directly in front of the gate, and a second patio below on the left.

On the other side of the living room windows, are the bird feeders, and on one of the quail-visit days you could see so much wildlife out there! I gave a try to get as many of them into one shot as I could. Marked above: squirrel, quail, deer. There’s also all the birds…so it is quite a menagerie. (Joe does like to feed them!)

When the area was dusted with snow last week, that Hamamelis kept up the flower show.

I truly love this Arnold Promise Hamamelis. It is a beacon, every February. This year it’s put on a particularly long show. And the smell . . . talk about aromatherapy! Best February air in the world.

I could not decide which close-up to include, the blue sky background, or the sea-foam-green lichen background. So I’m sharing them both.

That concludes my post for today. For more Wednesday Vignette blogs, visit the incomparable Flutter and Hum, Anna K, as she heads off to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Blog under construction. Currently being revised and expanded. Please return in a couple hours. Thank you for your patience!

Being as how it’s Wildflower Wednesday (the meme hosted by Clay and Limestone, in honor of native plants and their blooms), it seems the perfect time to resurrect my blog and post more about my visit to the Wildflower Center. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to be exact, in Austin, Texas.

Winter is a good time to revisit gardens of spring, is it not? The pictures from this day in May should warm you.

Our return to the Wildflower Center

I returned with my husband and daughter, after having missed most of this large botanical garden on my tour with fellow garden bloggers, a story that I told here, in Part 1. That day we experienced how they do it big in Texas, with a rather exciting view into the south’s thundering rainstorms.

A few days later, I returned with family, excited to see how different it would look, in sun. My traveling companions this day:

We were not the only bloggers who were able to come back on this first warm morning. I caught a few in the background, with the fellow I’m married to believing I was taking a picture of him. (Well I was. Sort of.)

In my Part 1 story, I covered the entry and the central plaza courtyard. It looked stunning in the morning and the moist air, just before the rain.

I’ll begin this blog in the first garden area after you pass through the central plaza: ___

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
“…[W]e use native plants to restore and create healthy, beautiful landscapes. We carry out our mission to inspire the conservation of native plants through our gardens, research, education, consulting and outreach programs. In doing so, we improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and enhance human health and happiness. Visit, learn and make a better world with us.”
— from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website

I was both nervous and excited for my first day of Austin garden tours, as it was all new to me (the travel, the town, the international bloggers I joined). Additionally, there was a concerning forecast: storm cells with warm temps (upper 70's F) and up to four inches of rain in four hours. I couldn't quite grasp what this might mean. It was early May in Austin TX, the day before the opening of the annual Garden Bloggers' Fling.

To prepare, I used my early arrival day to shop the local outdoor stores, to seek out whatever kind of summer rain gear the locals recommend. (TIP: quick-dry nylon capri hiking pants! And sturdy umbrella, if you need to shoot photos in said weather.) 

I packed my day bag with my new gear, camera & batteries for 8 hours, and was as-ready-as-I-was-going-to-be for the mysterious day ahead. 

Central courtyard and the "Courtyard Spring" water feature, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, on deluge day.

I was truly excited to see the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the first stop on Day 1 of our tours.  The Wildflower Center has earned the highest calibre reputation nationwide, for its education and conservation, and also for its huge botanic garden, a powerhouse in its own right. Co-founded in 1982 by our 36th First Lady, you can feel the love behind her mission to this day.

Upon entering the gardens, you are taken down a grand arrival path that follows a row of columns, reminiscent of Roman aqueduct ruins.  This colonnade supports a water channel on top, which collects roof runoff, and directs it toward the cistern tower at the entrance.

You follow the row of arched columns straight into the heart of the garden--a complex of buildings surrounding a central courtyard.
(Entrance journey is between #1 and #5 on this garden map.)

View of the tower cistern from the admissions gate. Overhead channel that would bear runoff water can be seen upper right.

Water channel at the top of a colonnade, like ruins of an ancient Roman viaduct.

For some reason I am smitten with overhead water channels. They completely intrigue me.

Because I didn't get a photo of it on my first day, below is a shot that shows an overall view of the water channel running almost imperceptibly downhill to its destination cistern. I took this photo when we returned to see the Wildflower Center, on a sunnier day. (I'll post that visit's story at a later date.)

Here is the same colonnade walk, on the bloggers' tour day:

It's amazing how the same scene looks so different in different lights & moisture content!

But I jump ahead. In the day's chronological story, it has not yet begun to rain.

Back at 9am...
The full gang arrived, and we gathered for our group photo (taken by one of our fantastic sponsors, Precision Photo). 
By the time our photographer quickly snapped his shots, the first raindrops began to fall.

The full conference of the Garden Bloggers' Fling, 10th Anniversary, Austin TX, May 4, 2018.

No one knew how much of the forecast would hit us, or when, but we guessed we had precious time to shoot in this immense public garden.  Everyone dispersed every which way. There were several choices of directions to take, and, surprisingly, no one remained in this incredible courtyard, which felt like the heart of the place. I opted to stay within it, and study what made this beautiful "heart" tick. 

The large central courtyard is enclosed on three+ sides by a complex of mostly single-story buildings, in the tradition of rural hacienda compounds. Facing the interior, all buildings have covered walkway verandas, which protect its humans from heat and sun, and rain.

The verandas extend out from the buildings, transitioning to pergolas, which blends the architecture into the garden. 

The space between

Around the outer edges of this large courtyard, trees and their overhead canopies also act architecturally, so to speak, as they extend the shade and "enclosing comfort" of the porches. Like the verandas, they also blur the line between hardscape and garden.

As a spacial principle, these edges where the veranda and open-sky-courtyard meet, are "a place between."  They are the edge between "being inside" and "being outside." In the human psyche, it is a most comfortable place to be, standing in a protected space, and looking out over an expanse. It is both relaxing and stimulating.

These verandas and perimeter trees are also very effective when standing in the middle of the courtyard itself. They soften the hard enclosure and give it depth. Though you are surrounded by paving, the space feels part of the garden.

The courtyard's Texas Mountain Laurel, on rainy morning

One of my favorite of the courtyard's trees was this Texas Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora. With it's multiple trunks and vase shape, it was the perfect size and form. It has its own little island bed--cut out of the courtyard paving. This island bed trick is an underused method of transition and relief--a welcome alternative to plantings strictly along perimeters.

The photo above was taken on our rain-day tour. The photo below was taken from the same spot on my return visit, a few days later, in the sun. 

The courtyard's Texas Mountain Laurel, on a sunnier day

Sophora secundiflora (Texas Mountain Laurel) leaves, seeds, bark and trunks

In the middle of the central plaza lies "The Courtyard Spring." (With public display gardens, everything gets a moniker. But it's a man-made feature, not a natural spring.)  

Its scale was perfect; the touches of plants around its edges were perfect; its placement in the center and along photogenic axis lines was perfect. Its depths captivated me.

The color of its water was pure and beguiling! My curiosity was piqued as to how they did it, and how they kept it so crystal clear. I am not the only one enamored with this courtyard pool. One of the last gardens on our tour had a pool built in almost exact replica of it. It was gorgeous.
I learned that part of the water feature's gloriousness is due to the native white limestone of the Hill Country (Austin) terrain.  The white stone walls have an effect on depth perception, when looking through water. 

The Hill Country is famous for its beautiful natural springs and pools. This is all an artistic interpretation of what Nature herself does.

As the morning progressed, it got darker, feeling weirdly like dusk, or dawn. The courtyard's automatic lights came on, which added to the sparkle of the scene.

Eventually my photo studies became too wet. It was time to seek cover.  

As the skies more and more opened up, my companions streamed back in, a few at a time. Some of the braver ones had ventured far afield, and got caught in the most rain. Generally, spirits were high. (Our rain-soaked clothes hadn't bothered us too much...yet.)

A video of a few of us, running in from the storm--

VIDEO: Rainstorm, Texas style. May 4, 2018.

Run for cover

The following two photos were taken from the same location as the video--looking out to the veranda walkway where it transitions into a pergola. The first is from my first impression day--and therefore I call it "before." The second, from the day we re-visited on a sunny day--I call "after."

Above--Veranda/walkway "before" (on our tour day).
Below--the same view, "after" (a few days later).

Isn't that fantastic?  I love them both.

Our group seeking shelter from the rain, under the central courtyard's porticos. 

From here on out, we watched the storm from under cover. Surrounded by the covered porches, there was a lot of room for all of us to spread out (...or so it was in the beginning, anyway, before even these areas got too wet!). Above, showing the attraction of the "space between," with framed views from which to watch an epic storm feed the water-starved ground.

The storm picked up intensity during this hour. Thunder rolled in; the rain and wind intensified.

This puddle, which extends to the house wall, rose to twice this size, by the time we left.

Meanwhile, in the gift shop...

..
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

For a garden in deer country, this is a rare sight. Today, we enjoyed this little vignette of all the lilies I grow, with some new Brodiaea ('Queen Fabiola') and an old Clematis that will not quit, no matter what I do to it. The latter sprawls on the ground amid ground covers, where it's actually a little safer than up on a support and in the 18"-high munch zone.

Left to right, Brodiaea 'Queen Fabiola,' orange and yellow Asiatic Lilies, and an old mauve Clematis - our yard, June 13, 2018.

Even if this little combination lasts only a day (until the nighttime marauders visit and eat them), it was worth it.

Wednesday Vignette is hosted by Flutter & Hum. Take a peak there for more vignettes that other garden bloggers have spied.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Touring with the annual Garden Bloggers Fling

Every spring for the past ten years, garden bloggers from across the country and internationally (Canada and England were represented this year) gather in an event to network, support each other, and tour gardens in the host city.  This was my first "Fling," and I was so impressed.  The central Texas bloggers are seriously talented event planners, as our whole 3-1/2 days flowed without a hitch. If there were glitches from the organizers' point of view, I never saw them. The 93 of us felt welcome and well-taken-care-of everywhere we went.

Join me here and over future days, as I sort through hundreds of photos* of some well-loved Austin gardens, and post them here.  
(*I most gluttonously captured!)

Rooftop garden of the Austin Central Library

Our first night was a welcome reception at Austin’s very modern Central Library, opened just this last October.  (Garden blogger Pam Penick wrote wonderful coverage of it here.)  This unique 6-floor beauty has a lot of pride of place. I admire how the architects brought in outdoor ambiance within the indoor spaces (the indoor-outdoor connection may be one of my favorite things).  Looking closely, you realize how much the design takes full advantage of its river views; downtown skyline; its eastern, southern, and western exposures; and its location on Shoal Creek and the very cool Shoal Creek Trail.

We were welcome to peruse two key outdoor spaces: the thoughtful landscaping at street level (adjacent to Shoal Creek), and a wonderful rooftop garden--unusual in that it's part of the sitting space for the library itself.

Portland blogger Loree Bohl walks along Shoal Creek Trail, with Austin Central Library behind. 

Shoal Creek Trail (and downtown sections of the creek) have been newly renovated, and I'm envious of this natural paved corridor right in the middle of town.  (Portland does this kind of thing as well--in fact, Austin reminded me of Portland in many ways.)  The picture above was taken from the pedestrian-friendly Second Street bridge. Note rooftop gardens with their solar panel arbors, on top of the Library.

Adjacent to Austin Central Library (to the left of this photo) are Shoal Creek Trail and the Second Street bridge.

Creek restoration used boulders and slabs of the native stone, laid in sort of shelf formations, approximating creek-eroded rims in the Hill Country. Native plants help hold the banks.

Second Street bridge at Austin Central Library, over Shoal Creek. 

In other places the stones were laid formally--a nice contrast to neighboring elements.  Honestly, these Hill Country stones just plain look good with plants.  Soft and hard, together. 

This blooming yucca shows "soft and hard together," with plants.  Soft Mexican Feather Grass with hard lines of the yucca.

Whereas the creek side is the "back yard" of the building (its living spaces and pedestrian entrances), the front of the building faces Cesar Chavez Street.  The boulevard and Lady Bird Lake are on the right in the photo below.

The street-level patios in front are separated from Cesar Chavez by a berm of native plants, and these blocks are an interpretation of the layered formations of Hill Country limestone. 

Geometric interpretations of the native, layered stone formations that are everywhere around Austin. It's what the Hill Country is made of.

Rooftop Garden.  My favorite place in the library was the rooftop garden--a public nook where local folks can check out a book, read it outdoors in the shade of solar-panel arbors, amidst a garden and a penthouse view. 

This space is for the public.  I absolutely love that.



The rooftop's seat walls are formed in the same geometric nod to local limestone formations.  They are not a uniform level, but artistically shaped, like sculpture.  Native plants further the tie-in to the greenspaces all around the city.  It's quite a calming environment.

Sculptural seat walls, native Muhly grasses, and Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree).

I was first introduced to Bauhinia lunarioides (Anacacho orchid tree) by the friendly and very sophisticated plant nerds who were my companions for the next three days. They have such keen awareness of the plants surrounding them and a pleasant camaraderie of sharing. 

Anacacho orchid tree, Bauhinia lunarioides--a Texas native.

It was another newbie to this plant--from New York City--who pointed it out to me.  (Thank you, Kevin!) 

Kevin showed me the plant, we entered into a discussion, and to help me he pulled it up on his phone. (Everyone has conversations on rooftop gardens like this, right?)

The sun was setting when we walked back to our hotel by way of the riverfront roads.
City Hall caught my eye with its cool architecture and use of open space, stone and plants. The exterior pairs wood, metal and stone (always a good thing)...and does not forget the plants in its thoughtful design. I was intrigued by the horsetail--the bane of my existence at home). Still, I admire this dinosaur-age plant and remain curious about it's beauty (sometimes), how it is used architecturally, and how it is contained!






The forecast for the morning was up to 4" of rain (I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that!). So it was back to the hotel room to prepare my equipment and pack for the day, which proved to be quite epic.

If you are reading this on an email, you may comment here. Or click on link below if you're in the blog page. I'd love to hear from you!  

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Lovely Lomatiums

A two-hour drive from my home, the east side of the Columbia River Gorge becons at this exciting-ly wild-flowering time of year.  I travel there each April with our local APLD group (Assn of Professional Landscape Designers--wild plant nerds all), and it is such a joy.  The beauty of the place leaves us all breathless, every time.

Today is the "Wildflower Wednesday" blogging meme (details in last paragraph), new to me. I would like to join in, so for my first entry, I'll share a few photos from our Gorge weekend.  I'll focus on a lesser-known group of plants: the lovely Lomatiums (common name Desert Parsley).

These are blooming at the east end of the Gorge right now. 

My first picture is from the road leading in to camp, and my last will be a shot heading out.

Lomatium grayi on road berm high above the Klickitat River

Gray's Desert Parsley, Lomatiium grayi

Umbell flowers of the desert parsleys (here Lomatium grayi).

Sunflower blooms of Balsamroot surrounded by as-yet-unblooming Suksdorf's Desert Parsley (Lomatium suksdorfii).

Field of Suksdorf Lomatium yet to bloom, and a few fat-blooming Balsamroot.

Part of the beauty of the Lomatiums is their fine-textured foliage. Grayi in particular is very fine, and a bright green or blue-green.  They all grow in a sweet, fluffy mound.

I found both the L. grayi and L. suksdorfii at Humble Roots Farm at Hortlandia this month.  The nurseryman told us their Suksdorf has been easier to grow in the landscape, and he estimates Suksdorf to be more tolerant of clay soils.  I'm trialing them both, and I do not have high expectations for their survival west of the Cascades.  But my Grayi has wintered over in its pot already--which is impressive in and of itself!

Lomatium grayi (technically now L. papilioniferum, but none of us calls it that) at Humble Roots Farm's Hortlandia booth, April 15 this year.

Also at Humble Roots--Lomatium suksdorfii.  Supposed to be a little easier to grow in the landscape, but "easier" in this context is relative.

Suksdorf's Lomatium. Note the comparison of foliage with L. grayi, to the left.

Gray's Lomatium.  Thank you to Joy Creek Nursery and propagator Leslie Gover for growing this one to sell. It's wintered over a full year for me, in this pot.

Back in the wild...

A fine-textured Lomatium grayi in a natural combination, and two other natives in bloom or pretty foliage:

In the wild, Lomatium grayi with Columbia Gorge early lupines

Young lupines with fern (probably young Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina).

Hounds Tongue, Cynoglossum grande.  A beautiful true blue.

Lomatium grayi, near Columbia River Gorge

Our road out of camp, with the Klickitat River below. Lomatium grayi blankets the road cut, and many hummocks of Suksdorf cover the hills.

By summer, these Lomatiums on their exposed, rocky slopes will be dormant.  Not sure how long they will last at home.  But they are worth the try, for their fine texture, tidy habit, drought tolerance, and how much the beneficial bugs love them.  Looking forward to experimenting and getting to know them better.

Wildflower Wednesday is hosted by Gail Eichelberger at Clay and Limestone: Wildflower gardening in middle Tennessee.  (I notice that one year ago, on this meme, she featured a native with a flower very like our Desert Parsleys: "Golden Alexander (Zizia)." Obviously closely related but liking damp instead of dry. How interesting!) 

Other wildflowers in the news can be linked at the end of her blog.

The photos above, on open hillsides and oak woodlands of the east Gorge, were taken about 10 miles north of Lyle WA, on a ridge above the Klickitat River, at 1400- to 1600-foot elevation. (Zone 6?)  Photos taken April 13, 20, and 21 this year.

All rights reserved.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview