Rare Plant Research Open Garden

On Saturday, I attended the open house at Rare Plant Research for the first time. 

This Hippeastrum x johnsonii (hardy amaryllis) was tempting, but I wasn't sure I could provide the drainage it would need to bring it through winter. I could have stashed it in the greenhouse, but if I'm going to do that, there are a few even more beautiful amaryllis I'd rather save room for.

In the "not for sale" house, I wanted to delve into that mass of bromeliads and see each one up close. But I stayed behind the red tape like a good little plant addict.

If I lived somewhere much warmer, I would have lots of big, colorful bromeliads like these in the landscape.

Curcuma have such interesting blooms. I've seen these grown successfully in North Carolina gardens, but a southeast zone 8 is not at all the same as a northwest zone 8.

This growing field was full of amaryllis, pineapple lily, and cannas. The purple and green, with touches of red, make such a wonderful combination.

There were plenty of interesting plants for sale, but my favorite part of my visit was the garden. I especially loved the many eucalyptus trees on the hillside leading up to the house. The bright flowers of the laburnum made a striking contrast to the glaucous foliage of the eucalyptus.

As I came up the hill, the house, if one can call such a structure merely a house, came into view behind grasses interspersed among boulders and an old olive tree that has seen better days.

The eucalyptus, ceanothus, grass, and rocks create a simple but extremely effective and beautiful display.

I had seen photos of this mound where bromeliads are planted in the summer and was giddy to see it in person.

Glaucium never looked so good to me as it does here next to a purple Billbergia. I like it at this stage much better than after it's been blooming for awhile.

Oh to live somewhere this could live outside all year, or have huge greenhouses where they could all live.

 At one end of the house was a display of various plants that produce caudices, or thickened bases, like the one below.

 This caudex-producing vine was especially interesting. I might have been tempted if I had seen it for sale in one of the greenhouses.

Little pinkish-purple flowers add an extra touch to a fascinating plant.

Eryngium maritimum. Who wouldn't love those big, glaucous leaves? I might have a place for this plant now, if it can handle the heat on the west side of the house.

Purple and chartreuse. One of my favorite combos.

Someday I hope my Schefflera delavayi will look like this. I love the ones with lobed leaves, like this one.

I would love to have a boulder-strewn hillside to plant. Think of all the awesome plants you could grow with the drainage and microclimates there.

I'm not sure what this is for. Anyone know?

Big, happy phlomis. This is one yellow flower I love.

The smoky purple color of this sempervivum was particularly alluring. I think I might have seen one like it for sale. Now why didn't I pick one up?

This eucalyptus was especially nice with its white bark.

As an added bonus, it was laden with these fuzzy white flowers, which the bees loved. I was lucky to get a shot without any blurred flying bodies in it.

 Looking back down at the pond from the top of the desert garden at the pond. That's the same phlomis as before. It looks much smaller from this perspective.

Allium schubertii and blue fescue.

 Where can I get one of these giant pitchers? Do the cotinus, hosta, and practically white grass come with?

I had a few lewisia in hand, but decided to put them back. The area I would put them isn't quite ready and I know I'll be able to find them cheaper at work. One of the advantages of working at a nursery. Here are a couple that tempted me, though.

I decided to make the short drive down the road to Pebble Stone Nursery. This is a quaint, 2-greenhouse nursery, with only one of those houses open for sales. It's a shame I wasn't in a picture taking mood here, because it really was a surprise. The begonias were especially well-grown, both flowering and foliage types. There was even a begonia that looked like 'Silver Jewel', not one found commonly outside of specialty nurseries. Ironically, I didn't take any pictures but I did buy a couple plants. They had a great selection of herbs and annuals for under $3, and even some interesting succulents. I picked up a lemon verbena and Fuchsia 'Autumnale'. I've always loved lemon verbena, and now I can save it in the greenhouse over winter. Same with the fuchsia. The greenhouse will be much better for overwintering it than the unheated, uninsulated garage where my first one died.

From Pebble Stone, I went north and a little ways east to the Happy Valley location of Tony's Garden. I think I actually meant to stop at the Portland location, but this was a good stop, too. Lots of colorful annuals and plenty of trees, shrubs, and perennials to tempt me. But I foolishly acquiesced to a short break in plant purchases until after the fence is finished. I don't know why. I should have picked up a couple more Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' and Carex testacea. The deer won't bother those anyway. But I was feeling a bit poor, figuratively because of a sinus headache that had been building all day, and literally after my plant haul from Tsugawa's.

The back houses stretched on and on, full of plants.

I'll finish off with a couple of outrageously colorful bearded iris.


  1. Looks like you had a great day! Sorry we didn't find you. Probably we were both looking at the plants and place more than at people. Isn't RPR cool? Burl has amazing vision and talent and I'm in awe of his work! Inquiring minds want to know what you got at Tsugawa. How go the fence and greenhouse projects?

    1. I was disappointed I didn't find you. I'll have to journey north to join you on some excursion. I covered my Tsugawa purchases last week in "New Additions." Maybe I forgot to mention most of those plants came from Tsugawa? The greenhouse actually looks like a greenhouse, now, but still needs the water and electricity completed and benches put in. The contractor finally came back today and finished putting in the fence posts. Hoping to see him start installing the actual fence part tomorrow.

  2. I've never seen that short tunnel at RPR, it must have a purpose...I think everything Burl does is with a goal in mind. Oh and good job at staying behind the red tape. You don't want to know what happens to people who don't!

    You've made me wish I went down to Pebble Nursery, I thought about it. And I've never heard of Tony's! Hope you're feeling less poor. Both in the wallet and the head.

    1. The tunnel was at the bottom of the rocky hillside, the desert garden, I guess it's called. Pebble was a cute little nursery. A lot of typical stuff for great prices and enough interesting things hidden here and there that I would go again to see what I could find. The sinus headaches come and go, unfortunately, depending on allergies and weather. After a couple paychecks, my wallet is feeling a bit better ,though. lol Tony's has 3 locations. It would be interesting to check out the other two.

  3. Hmmm... That caudiciform vine could be an Adenia (not to be confused with Adenium). Have to look further.

    1. Thanks for the possible ID! I've heard of Adenia. Not sure I've ever seen one in person, though.

  4. Overindulging has been known to lead to headaches.

    1. A plant hangover? What's the cure for that? I hope it's buying more plants.

  5. I love eucalyptus trees and your shot of it's bloom is particularly gorgeous! Those yellow and red striped lewisia would have tempted me too. It's rather unusual color I have not seen before.

    1. Thank you, Chav! I was lucky it was a fairly still day and didn't have to take a dozen shots to get that one. Those lewisia were tempting, but I just wasn't feeling it that day.

  6. Thanks for providing an opportunity to enjoy the grounds of Rare Plant Research's property!

    1. You're welcome, Kris! If I had taken more time on individual plants, I probably would have shown several things you could grow! Burl seems to like plants more appropriate to warmer climates.


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