Cloudberries and a Kabocha Squash

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Reproduction of a painting by the Swedish botanist C. A. M. Lindman taken from Bilder ur Nordens Flora (first edition published 1901–1905).
Recently a Finnish friend of mine asked me to pickup some Cloudberry Preserves for him from a local import store we have here in the Portland Metro area (Scandia Imports). Since he travels all the time for work, I didn’t mind. The shop happens to be just a few blocks away from another of my favorite haunts so I was able to kill two birds with one stone. Learning more about the special orange berry much beloved in Scandinavia was kind of fun too. I like berries.

Have you ever heard of this berry? Well I sure hadn’t—other than from my friend. This kind of surprised me since the Pacific Northwest is known for its berries and we grow many different kinds from all over the world here.
Well, the cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is a special little plant and there are a few good reasons why many of us know very little about them.
Apparently, first off, the plants are dioecious, which is not common in the species. This means that the female plants need male pollination in order to produce fruit. (That limits the supply and spread a bit!) This, coupled with the arctic and alpine climate conditions where the plants tend to grow, and you’ve got a berry on your hands that grows best in a harsh climactic zone, producing limited numbers, and the demand for products made from them is fairly high so it’s safe to say that the berries don’t get around much.
This is why I had to drive across town to pickup a few jars. The store is only able to order the product once every 2 years depending upon availability. Leave it to me to go on a mission for hard-to-find berry preserves.
I did just fine though. I told you a favorite haunt of mine was nearby. There is nothing like a trip to Uwajimaya. I could get lost in there for days.

This precious little Kabocha squash had to come home with me too.

A happy Ann after a fine mission accomplished.

(Check back again soon for updates from the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.)

Weekend Parties and Their Gardens

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This last weekend I attended two parties. One was a 60th birthday for my former employer, and as you can see, he has a thing for pink flamingos.

Both of the homeowners are colorful people so it’s been fun helping them out in their garden during the past few years.

Then on Sunday I attended a “meat” party hosted by an old friend at his house in inner industrial SE Portland. Not too long ago I’d lived near this area and it was great to hear the trains going by all day. I also was able to see a few people I haven’t seen in about 15 years.

There were other dishes too but this is Portland after all and I’d be acting deceptively if I didn’t admit to there being bacon cupcakes and PBR.

Like my old rental house in the area, these two houses are also boxed in by warehouse walls. During the weekend the place is empty so band practice next door was not an issue. The two houses are occupied by friends so the garden is a bit of a shared area though I think Jerrod is the one who takes care of it.

I’d hoped these were edible old roses but they were scentless and that was rather disappointing.

Jerrod has planted vegetables here and there for his culinary needs.

It’s been very rainy again so these probably don’t look much like summertime in the city but here in Portland this is what it can be like sometimes.

After dinner several of us gorged ourselves on u-pick raspberries.

Oh, and if you’re counting this post for cool Portland references, I should add that Jerrod’s roommate John works at Renovo Bikes. Yes, that’s wood you see there on that bike frame.

Welcome to my little slice of Portlandia.

Ok, Jerrod also made a fresh salad too with homemade Cesar dressing, so it wasn’t all about meat… (He also made a horseradish sauce too with fresh horseradish. Yes, this guy is a foodie.)