HPSO/Garden Conservancy Pre-Tour

Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to take part in a preview of the garden tour held jointly by the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon and the Garden Conservancy. You can find the details on the main event, this Saturday, July 14th, on this page. Proceeds from ticket sales for the tour help to fund the Garden Conservancy and HPSO grant and scholarship programs.

Having come down with a cold immediately after the tour, I've been scrambling (rather lethargically) to water my enormous garden before the heat arrives (today) and attend to all the other things life entails (work, studying, etc.). I've been less than successful and thus I won't be going into as much detail on these gardens as I would have liked. Instead, I'll simply show you my five favorite images from each garden.

First up, the Ferrante Garden, where the pre-tour folks enjoyed a reception with refreshments. Tour-goers this Saturday will have a reception at the end of the tour at Portland Nursery.

Astelia always earns a spot among my favorites.

Beautiful Lagerstroemia bark and Hydrangea quercifolia.

Iris pallida 'Variegata' backing Potentilla aff. gellida

A little impromptu shade garden protection. It will be hot on Saturday, so make sure to hydrate!

Lovely composition of Acanthus mollis 'Hollard's Gold' (pretty sure), a daylily, and contrasting Rhamnus alaternus 'Variegata' and a dark burgundy Loropetalum.

Next up is Anna's Garden, a postage-stamp-sized garden that nonetheless shows it is home to a true plant geek.
Containers and raised beds full of flowering annuals and vegetables.

Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' with Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Phyllostachys aurea, inherited with the house, dominates one corner, to the apparent chagrin of the designer, but it makes for a nice secluded area for entertaining. Bamboo nut that I am, this was actually my favorite part of this garden.

This narrow shade garden is where the garden owner really shows her plant addiction. Interesting ferns and even a Cardiocrinum, among other treasures, squeeze into this narrow space.

One of the more unusual plants in the shade garden, Saruma henryi, rarely seen in gardens.

Moving on, we arrive at the Eastman-Griffin Garden. This garden has multiple rooms with different themes.
Dappled light along a path leads you into the hidden garden within.

The first room is a lovely, restful shade garden, in a naturalistic style.

From there you enter the flamboyant, full sun garden full of boisterous flowers and lush tropical foliage.

I liked this combination of daylily and Monarda.

Vines and container plants lead the way back to the shade garden.
 Next up is perhaps my favorite garden on the tour, if I were to pick one. Niblet's Place, named after an adorably tiny feline host who seems in perfect command of this garden domain despite being so petite, is a drought-tolerant garden that features many native plants along with non-native climate-adapted plants. There was a shade garden on one side of the house that looked like it got a bit of supplemental water, but overall this is a very low-water garden. It's the kind of climate-adapted garden that I aspire to, even as my plant addiction drives me to acquire more high-maintenance plants.
Pollinators abound in this garden which receives little, if any, summer water.

Arctostaphylos and cardoon (or is that an artichoke?) provide structure in this loose and free-spirited composition of grasses, sedges, and drought-tolerant perennials.

Dramatic dark foliage and flowers among a cottage-style planting.

Asarum caudatum, one of my favorite natives carpets the ground along with mini mondo grass and ferns.

A bit more exotic around this patio area, with Trochodendron aralioides, Mahonia 'Soft Caress', and other choice evergreens.
 I'm actually disappointed in myself that I didn't take more photos of Niblet's Place, as there were horticultural treasures everywhere, begging for more in-depth exploration, but it was hot (for me) and there were still two more gardens to go!

The last two gardens, Meyers and Goldman, are conveniently located right next to each other. How wonderful it would be to have either of these two women as neighbors. Both are clearly consummate gardeners with a love for plants.

First stop was the Goldman Garden.
Street-side plantings largely obscure the house and garden from view, with openings revealing tantalizing glimpses of what lies within.

A massive tree peony surrounded by lilies, dahlias, clematis, and other flowers.

Lush plantings line a shaded path.

Saxifraga umbrosa 'Variegata' in a large dish planter supported by sculptural, bend rebar.

A colorful container garden leading into (or out of, depending on which way you're wandering) the back garden.
 The final garden on the pre-tour, the Meyers Garden.

Rustic charm in the city. I like it.

Rhamnus 'Fine Line', spotted calla lily foliage, and decorate rusty metal make a fine combination.

A gorgeous, lush, and dramatic tableau in the back garden.

Aralia elata 'Variegata' gives a bit of subtle flash against a simple mix of greens, with a massive Phyllostachys towering in the background.

This Clematis suspended from a Metapanax begged to be photographed.
Like Niblet's Place, I wish I had spent more time exploring these two gardens in depth. Both gardens provide a wonderful shady respite that invite visitors to linger, which I would have if I'd been able. The final garden on the tour, the Ediger Garden, wasn't open for the pre-tour, but you'll get to see it on Saturday if you participate in the tour then. There will also be events at Thicket Nursery, Garden Fever, and Portland Nursery for tour-goers. Again, you can find details on the HPSO website, as well as the Garden Conservancy website.

I hope your gardens are all prepared for the next week of warm days. I'm still working on watering mine. If you are planning to do this tour, please remember to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen!


  1. Wow, it looks like a great tour! My jaw dropped at the sight of that giant tree peony. And I'm obsessed with those umbrellas - as planting trees can be a challenge here due to our "view conservation" ordinance, I could use a collection of sun umbrellas to deal with the next horrific heatwave. Best wishes dealing with your own heat event and I hope the cold passes quickly.

    1. The umbrellas have become kind of a thing in Portland. I could use giant ones to cover whole areas of the garden. I hate your "view conservation" ordinance. Trees enhance the view, in my opinion, and their ecological and environmental significance, especially in a coastal desert climate where they help capture fog, far outweigh any loss of value from a dubious view of large equipment in a frequently smoggy harbor. Ok, breathe, Evan. I hope you stay hydrated and your garden isn't too scorched by the heat.

  2. I’m volunteering during the tour and interestingly was assigned one of the two gardens that I haven’t previously seen, Anna's Garden (the other being Niblet's Place). Since volunteers can see the other gardens for free before and after their shift I think I’ll have to make time to stop by Niblet's Place. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. Stay hydrated while you're out there! I think you'll enjoy Niblet's Place. Even if you don't like all of it, there's something there for everyone. I also liked the Meyers garden quite a bit, and the Goldman garden.

  3. That is going to be a great tour. That huge Tree Peony! Wow. Wish I was there.

    Good reminder on hydration and sunscreen. Sometimes we gardeners are so focused on caring for our plants we forget we must also take good care of ourselves.

    1. We don't do our gardens any favors if we pass out from dehydration or get skin cancer, do we?

  4. Great vignettes. May favorite is the variegated Saxifraga dish planter surround by bend rebar. I got the Saxifrage and I'm sure I can locate a planter, but bent rebar... that is a challenge.

  5. Lots of great gardens to explore. Thanks for sharing this marvelous tour.


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