Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Portland, Oregon)

Standard
Ever since I can remember I’ve been visiting what my family always referred to as The Rhododendron Garden, though nowadays, I’ve finally started calling it by a name others actually recognize: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
The garden was started back in 1950, when my dad was a boy, and not long after my Grandfather Salvatore, aka Sam, had returned home from World War II. Situated at the southeastern edge of Portland, it sits right in the middle of my Portland universe.
For about a decade or so I didn’t visit the garden at all. Instead I was spending more time with friends, and less and less with family, and now that I have been gardening for about 10 years, I love to visit there more.
With over 2,500 Rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants, the setting is idyllic.
The garden is great if you need planting ideas.
Fringe Cup. Tellima grandiflora.
Wood Anemone. Anemone nemorosa ‘Flore Pleno’.
It is also a great place for some color after all the grey rain.

Not long ago this retaining wall with ferns was added. I have enjoyed watching it grow and change but part of me really wants them to add a stumpery just so I can say that we have one here in Portland. (I know they are all over the place in the woods, but to have an official one would seriously crack me up.)

I have one of these in our garden but it’s barely alive. Ours has been broken, stepped on, and tripped over, and it’s alive, but it doesn’t look this nice.
Spider Azalea. Rhododendron stenopetalum Linearifolium.

To see a Rhododendron tree in bloom in the middle of the woods is a sight to behold.

Nearby, the carpet of primroses was breathtaking and it was great to see an art class painting en plein air. I want to draw again so badly but I simply have too much to do. Maybe that will be added to my long list of things.

Primula pulverulenta.
Then there are those azaleas!
There are a lot of reds in the Crystal Springs garden, and I know that not everyone loves red, but I am fond of the color.
Rhododendron ibex.
These colors work too.
There was no tag on this one, but I found the lighter green foliage rather interesting with the pale violet blooms. It must be an early bloomer since it’s already beginning to fade.
Here is a Cercis in bloom with an accompaniment of Rhododendron.
Have you ever seen a purple like this reaching for the sky? Neither have I.
I added these two reds because I grew up with them. The big bloom in the middle is the hybrid Rhododendron ‘Jean Marie de Montagu’ and the smaller bloom in the back is most likely a Hino-Crimson azalea. The only other classic crimson combinations would be a Rhododendron ‘Vulcan’ and a Wards Ruby azalea. I only know these because my mom stuffed her acre sized garden with them and I loved red so I was kind of all about those blooms each spring.
(As a kid, I would sit on my thick fuzzy red blanket in an ocean of lawn at my parents’ house for hours and hours at a time. My mom didn’t need to put me in a playpen since I wouldn’t touch the grass. I know. I was a weird kid.)
Here is another bank of azalea blooms.
This is my favorite yellow Rhododendron.

Rhododendron lutescens.
Beside the lake, after you cross the bridge to the island, you’ll see a weeping cherry tree.
On the return trip back, this is the same bridge. Even when packed with folks during the springtime, it is enchanting.
The other bridge is back at the entrance. This is the Moon Bridge as seen from above. It was also at the beginning of this post, but from below.

Before I go though, I should mention the birds. There are a lot of birds, but most of all, there are water birds because the garden is both surrounded by, and is full of, water.

Pair of Mallard ducks sleeping in a tree.
Geese and a gosling.

The garden sits across the street from Reed College—a fine institution of higher learning. Though I never attended the school as a student, I did spend a lot of time on the campus with two of my best friends during their years as undergraduates. That was a long time ago though.

Due to the busy season at the garden, and because the small lot was reserved for a film crew, I had to park in the school’s parking lot. So, on my way back to the car, I noticed these gorgeous Ceanothuses in bloom and the short walk was worth it!

Back at home I worked on my pile of plants this afternoon. Funny I hadn’t noticed that a Candelabra Primrose was beginning to bloom, but I sure noticed it today! How rewarding to see this after having cared for it for a year or two. It is another primrose I’ve grown from seed and I cannot wait for it to give me more babies.

Primula pulverulenta.
My native Rhododendron occidentale has not yet burst open, but I am watching it closely. This is one of those plants that your nose may notice much sooner than your eyes.

Lastly, if you made it this far, the American Rhododendron Society will be in Vancouver, Washington this week for their convention. So if you have the time, you should check it out:
American Rhododendron Society Presents The World in Your Garden May 11-15, 2011
Heathman Lodge, Vancouver, WA

6 thoughts on “Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Portland, Oregon)

  1. Thank you _so_much_ for these pictures. I've loved this place for more than 40 years. Especially when I had some course work at Reed, it was such a beautiful respite. With all those evergreen rhodies, I loved it year-round. It's one of the places I miss most about Portland. Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I love it even more than the Washington Park rose gardens.

    Like

  2. Danger Garden, It isn't for everyone, but you should check it out at least once. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are free too during the peak season but the $3 charge is worth it.

    Patricia, I understand missing that garden. You might understand how happy I was to discover there are native rhodies not far from where my husband grows wine. In a few weeks I will be traveling back to CA to see them and to go to SF. As long as I have my rhodies though I feel at home.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s