A Gardener Spends an Hour or Two at Powell’s Books

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Last Friday the sun was out in the City of Roses and I was running around getting ready for my nieces’s 21st birthday party.
Why not stop for a bit at Powell’s? Right?

I have been visiting the nationally-known and locally-loved store since I was a girl and to say that it’s part of my routine and my life is an understatement. Long before the Internet existed I was using this book lovers’ destination as a much needed resource—along with the local library system of course!

Walking the two blocks from where I’d parked my car I enjoyed the familiar sights.
There were the usual humorous things to see too—even if I was the only one laughing.
No folks, this is no longer a trash can once it’s painted and planted!
As for the Italian cypress, it reminded me a bit of the old drunk men I used to see in this area as a girl. They too leaned up against the walls of building just like this poor thing.
Portland looked much different during the 1970s. I suppose to outsiders, we still look different, but in a much more friendly way.

For instance, we have our urban windmills atop buildings. Everyone does that right?

Since I hadn’t been to the downtown location for several months I’d not yet noticed that the gardening section had been expanded a bit.

There was a great display of new books and I was happy to see they’ve included a cheap section again with older titles that don’t cost as much as the newbies.

Yes, it’s harder now to find great deals on books here but that’s happening everywhere.

My favorite section was still very much intact.

Beside it is my other favorite section in the store. As someone with a background in critical theory and philosophy relating to art history and visual analysis this section has been nice to transition into over the years. At least with gardens you can actually talk about something.

Upstairs in the arts area I was excited to see vintage typewriters on display with houseplants. This is a nice Ficus elastica.

Some of the other houseplants didn’t look as nice but this is a bookstore after all. I felt like turning this Sansevieria but then I decided that I might look like one of those obsessive characters in that popular tv show you’ve probably heard about that’s filmed here.

Before I left I was looking at hiking books because I plan to go on more plant and nature adventures this year. It was strange to me that an older edition of one of the used books seemed familiar. I looked on the back and suddenly remembered that my dad had resold the remainders he’d purchased from the original publisher when they’d gone out of business. I may have actually put this sticker on the back of this book because I used to do things like that when I was younger.  As the daughter of a publisher, I was lucky to grow up surrounded by books. I always could earn some extra money too.

When I was a young girl my Saturday mornings downtown at Powell’s with my dad were often the highlight of my week. We’d often spend several hours there together reading quietly and watching people.

It was really nice to remember those memories just before leaving and I also found some great books for my niece.

Those Last Minute Fall Plant Sales!!

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I am such a sucker for the Fall Plant Sale, and by that I mean the plant sales with deep discounts, the ones that often have the sad plants that look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Maybe it’s the foster parent in me, the girl who has always been on the side of the downtrodden, sad, and neglected in life, or maybe it’s the fact that I have an incredible amount of patience that is backed by this drive in me to study things over a long period of time. Who knows but at least I am not alone.
I already have a Monstera deliciosa thriving in my entry, so I knew I could resist this amazing Monstera deliciosa ‘Albo Varietgata’ but I won’t lie, I wanted it! That frosted, glazed donut look gets me every time!

This year I limited myself to two sales and the first one I went to was at Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn. When I saw that they had Woolly Pockets at a deep discount, I had to go! I’d wanted one ever since I first saw them in an amazing glossy ad, but then I promised myself I would resist all the other stuff!

One more way to stuff African Violets into your home.
A frilly edged Asplenium nidus, or Bird’s Nest Fern.
Crocodile Fern, Microsorum musifolium.
Mounted Staghorn Ferns aka Platycerium.
I was so proud to have made it past all the ferns, but then it was this display of Bromeliads that ruined me. I saw all of them and thought, “Maybe I should keep working on this group. I bought one last winter and didn’t kill it so maybe I could expand on that success!” (For such a cynic, I truly can sound ridiculously positive.)
From left to right: Phlebodium aureum ‘Mandaianum’, Vriesea ‘Splenriet’, Dracaena ‘Green Stripe’, Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Moonshine’.

Lucky for me I was able to find a Bromeliad on the clearance rack. At that point, after crumbling, I couldn’t buy just one plant from the sale rack, so I bought the group shown here and brought them home with me.

Moving out to the perennial sales area I came across this tulip blend and the idea of a ‘Wine and Cheese’ tulip mix really cracked me up. Maybe this loosened me up too much though because I continued to select a few more items to purchase.

Delphinium ‘Sweethearts’.

At least I was able to convince my friend to purchase this amazing Delphinium. I am not fond of pink, but I do love dusty rose. From afar, this plant really stood out too.

Doll’s Eyes or White Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda.

As if by fate, while standing there trying to convince my friend to buy something, I saw these Doll’s Eyes staring at me. This North American native is one I’ve wanted for a really long time. I bought one of them too and, of course, I quickly harvested its seeds.

The second sale I was able to commit to this year was the annual Cistus Nursery parking lot sale. Due to my rather challenging foster child that weekend we were a bit late, and many plants had already been purchased by people who’d shown up with trailers, but we had a good time anyway and found plenty of plants.

Our cart filled up quickly with plants that were very different from the plants we’d found last year! You just never know what you’ll find at this sale. That’s what makes it so much fun.

This year there were a number of Windmill Palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) so I picked one up.
My husband and I were never really sure about planting palms, but after seeing them in Japanese gardens in photographs shown during a lecture last winter up in Seattle, we felt more comfortable about adding one to our berm area.

I picked this one after the tag tugged at my heartstrings. It was grown from Portland seeds. Awhhhhhh!

Myrtus communis ‘Ann McDonald’.

There was also a Myrtle so I bought it even though I already have a small one in the backyard. Myrtles fascinate me and the blooms were so pretty I couldn’t resist.

Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ (Chlorophytum ‘Gold Nugget’).

I also bought two plants from the nursery that were not on sale. This Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’ is one I’ve been wanting for awhile, and since it looked like it had some seeds, I was even more sold on the idea of it. I am curious to see how those grow. I know this must sound funny, but I really am curious.

Spider Plant ‘Gold Nugget’, (Chlorophytum ‘Gold Nugget’) seed heads.
Jasminum parkeri.

This cute little Dwarf Flowering Jasmine also caught my eye. The smell was nice too.

Has anyone else been to any great sales? What deals did you find this fall?

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part One, The Seasonal Display House

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There is no denying that I had a wonderful time this past week up in Seattle. I could go on and on about all the reasons it was so wonderful, but I’d rather now right now. As wonderful as the whole experience was, it was not the kind of vacation that allowed me to rest and I am seriously paying heavily for that right now with my health. If it hadn’t been the fling, it would have been something else, so I am not complaining.
I did the drive back to Portland solo and this allowed me to see some other gardens before I left town. This may seem like a strange idea, but in this case, I’d planned to visit places I usually frequent. I just didn’t want to visit them with anyone who was paying attention to time.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a favorite place of mine to visit. Like the other two historic Victorian glasshouses open to the public on the West Coast, no matter what time of year you’re there visiting, it is always amazing. First considered in 1893, the main building was not completed until 1912. Inside there are five main houses: Bromelaid, Palm, Fern, Seasonal Display and Cactus. I am doing each separately so you can see all the pretty pictures.

The first house you actually enter into from the front door is the Palm House. This is a beautiful view from the Seasonal Display House looking back at it. During this trip I kind of rushed into this room first because a seniors group of Japanese-Americans came in for a walk and I wanted to be sure to give them enough space to get around me.

This house had a lot of annuals mixed in with sturdy perennials. The foundation plantings really consist of this large Yucca and a Sansevieria Collection.

The Yucca gigante is very impressive and while the group of senior citizens walked through the room one of the women remarked to a nurse, “Wow, that’s really old. Old like us!” The younger woman could then be heard giggling as the group walked off together. I thought it was kind of funny too.

Low at the bottom you can see a really nice Sansevieria with a lot of white stripes. I guess it’s a Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’. Time to put that on my fall/winter plant shopping list.

 
It’s an understatement to say that these groupings are impressive. They are overwhelmingly breathtaking and I felt honored to spend some quiet time with them as though we were attending plant church together.

So before I overwhelm you, I will leave you a taste for what beacons as you reach the Cactus House.

Awe! Those menacingly attractive little guys look a lot like buddies to me. Don’t you think so too?

Volunteer Park Conservatory