Brookings, Part III Around Town

After I finished ogling the plants at the Brookings Botanical Garden, I crossed the road and walked up the hill to Azalea State Park. I neglected to take photos of any of the structures, such as the iconic Capella by the Sea. I was playing tourist, but I didn't feel like being THAT much of a tourist. So I walked by it with a passing glance and headed into the little bit of woods on one side of the park.

My first close encounter with Notholithocarpus densiflorus (aka Lithocarpus densiflorus), commonly known as the tanoak or tan-bark oak. At least, I think this is my first encounter with the tree-sized version, though this is a seedling. All I remember from my time at Cistus was the shrubby variety echinoides, a wonderful plant, to be sure, but I also wanted to get to know the tree version.

Umbellularia californica grows into some fun shapes.

Pink leptospermum and nasturtium leaves make a nice combination.

This boggy area looks better in summer, I imagine, but I had to include it for the tall yuccas in thte background

I kept wondering where all the little tanoaks were coming from. I didn't see any mature trees. Then I came out into the open and looked up at the top of a small hill. Why hello!

There were a few mature specimens around the hill. This one had nice narrow leaves with heavy scurfy hairs that wear off to reveal glossy, deeply-veined surfaces.

I love the bark on this tree. I want some in my garden.

It reminds me a bit of cork oaks.

It seems that large Loropetalum specimens aren't very common in the PNW. They grow more slowly here than in the southeast, and are usually kept from reaching larger proportions by pruning. Not here! This one has been allowed to grow unimpeded into nearly small-tree size.

Just a Washingtonia, nothing exciting.

Lots of tree-sized cordyline throughout town. I ended up leaving the park for a little bit, walking around the adjoining neighborhood.

Like most small towns, Brookings suffers from a propensity for gardens and landscapes that range from pedestrian to non-existent. The small population and isolation just don't make for great plant availability, and usually people in small towns have little interest in the new and different. So, the vast majority of the landscapes in Brookings are composed of the most boring, stereotypical coastal landscape plants available. Given a climate that allows perhaps one of the widest plant selections in the country, Brookings may also be the biggest horticultural waste. Ok, end rant.

It's not all bad, and since I didn't spend that much time walking around town and didn't have a clue where to look, I'm sure I missed some amazing gardens. There were a few fun surprises, like this house-sized Phoenix canariensis. Actually, there are a number of large Canary Island date palms in Brookings and Harbor.

Cordyline loaded with flower buds.

More tree-sized cordylines

I was stumped by this plant when I saw it. I knew I had seen it in pictures before, but couldn't remember the name. Thank goodness for random posts from plant groups in my newsfeed on Facebook. Coleonema pulchellum.

Back to the park for one more photo. Azalea Park is named for the many native Rhododendron occidentale growing there. Western azalea often has a scattering of fall blooms. Unfortunately, I didn't see very many. This specimen was putting on a pretty good show, though.

 After Azalea State Park, I continued up the north bank of the Chetco River to Alfred A. Loeb State Park, but I'll save that for a separate post. After that I came back to town for lunch and then walked back into town. There is a nice garden strip in front of the Goodwill along Highway 101 through town.

A floriferous leptospermum.

A bit of variety in the phormium selection.

I had read about the gardens in the courtyard of the City Hall/Police/Fire Department, so I had to seek it out.

Arthropodium! I'm assuming it's Arthropodium cirratum. I love this plant and if I lived in Brookings, I'd definitely include it in my garden.

Big Nolina and a lovely small tree with cinnamon-colored bark whose name escapes me at present. I think it's something in the myrtle family.

Callistemon 'Little John'

For those tough places: Helleborus x sternii

This is what I mean by "horticultural waste." Magnolia grandiflora, Acer rubrum, and Liquidambar styraciflua. We're talking about a climate where you can grow Canary Island date palms and should be able to grow the hardier Metrosideros, like umbellata and collina, not to mention a staggering host of other plants that could be grown in this climate. Why limit your plantings to things that are hardy in USDA zone 7, or lower, when you're in zone 9?! They don't even have to be exotics. The natives would be 100 times more interesting.

Part of the problem is lack of horticultural knowledge. Case in point: what may be the saddest Dicksonia antarctica ever. What do you expect from a gated community likely landscaped by the usual mow and blow crew?

This was just painful to look at, so of course I'm sharing it so you can feel it, too. Why do people think everything needs to be sheared into domes, globes, cubes, and other unnatural shapes? Poor restio. You deserve better.

In Brookings, scented geraniums become hedge plants.

Just a palm and a rhododendron growing side by side. Totally normal.

And I'll leave you with this huge agave. The biggest plant was around 5' tall. Much bigger than we're used to seeing in the PNW, though I did see one bigger further north. I think it was in Gold Beach, but my memory of the drive is a bit hazy.


  1. The pink leptospermum and nasturtium leaves are a lovely combo indeed. The Nolina is magnificent.
    I chuckled at the phrase "mow and blow crew" but as you pointed out, the neighborhood lacks horticultural knowledge. Now that your parent's garden is kind of done, you should take on a new (huge) project :-D

    1. That's a phrase stuck-up horticulturists use to mock typical landscape maintenance businesses. All they usually know how to do is mow the lawn and use a leaf blower. I think I know where you're going, and I don't think that's for me. Not that the thought hasn't crossed my mind...

  2. This post is further evidence that what grows in my garden might be happier still with much more water. Arthropodium cirratum isn't widely grown here either and I don't know why as it's easy to grow and easy to divide - the last time I divided mine I passed off bulbs to both neighbors and friends so perhaps I'm starting a slow promotion.

    1. Maybe, but I bet some of those things don't live as long with all that water. Some plants grow themselves to death if they're too happy. I got a very small division of a variegated Arthropodium cirratum and it's already got multiple offsets in just one summer. Such a great plant. It and the regular green form should be grown more often where they're hardy. Mine has to spend winter in the greenhouse.

  3. Okay that humongous Phoenix canariensis looks Photoshoped, especially the way I paged down on my iPad screen and those tiny houses appeared. That Restio, that poor poor Restio...

    Thanks for the paying Agave photo!

    1. It was surreal even to me, standing there looking at it with my own eyes.

  4. (That should have said "parting" Agave photo...)


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