You know how sometimes your expectations are so high that the real thing falls short? For several years now, I have been aware of the existence of this local nursery which specializes in gardening with our liquid element – water. I have no real good excuse… Hughes Water Gardens is practically located in a southwest Portland suburb, or at least close enough to call it that, but until today, I had never been. Well, today I finally had a chance to visit, in the company of friend and client Marian. We are working on her front garden together and – among other things – needed to look at options to revive a water feature. But most of all, we just wanted to get away, and have a fun outing. So, you ask – did it fall short? Nope – au contraire – it was wonderful! It was a perfect day – slightly overcast, cool and still.
I immediately liked their red-painted buildings. (I’m such a Swede…) Rusted steel is another easy way to my heart – and of course plants! Lots of plants.
Metal seed head, and Acacia pravissima ‘Owens Wattle’.
Planters with drippy glaze takes on a whole new significance with water pouring down their sides.
Loved the Raven by the entrance!
Inside, they have just about anything you might need to introduce water into your garden.
A whole wall of pumps awaits. The staff know their stuff, and can advice you on which one will give you optimal results.
Planters, statuary, urns, and water-loving plants were everywhere!
These fun metal rebar reeds where strategically placed, and showed up in all sorts of vignettes.
The peaceful sound of moving water followed you around.
A very unique fire pit made with a repurposed old buoy.
The tall, light trunks of Alders formed a striking view along a berm that stretched along the walkway.
Behind them was a massive grove of Timber bamboo.
A variegated Fatsia japonica was elegantly juxtaposed against the towering culms.
We were thrilled to see new shoots that were completely albino! How cool!
Speaking of bamboo – this one looked a little worse for the wear. Who can blame it – this summer was harsh!
But – closer inspection showed something I have never seen before – a bamboo in bloom! Wow – no wonder it looked different. Once bamboo blooms, it dies. You can really see that bamboo is indeed a grass when you see it in flower.
Among the water-loving plants were the usual suspects: Canna lilies, Hedychium, Colocasias, Papyrus, rushes, Bananas, carnivorous plants of different kinds, Pistia, and many others I don’t know the name of. All I know is that now, I want a water garden of some kind!!!
One of the first things I spotted – before even entering Hughes – was the fantastic color fluctuations of the most impressive Papyrus roots I had ever seen.
Further in, I had the same wow-response to the weathered base of a mature Ensete murelii – or Abyssinian banana.
Here a Colocasia leaf is unfurling.
Canna and Papyrus.
The very hardy Kerria japonica that is a great plant for shade. Funny that you don’t see this one around much – it is a great plant!
Love the airy flowers of Papyrus!
There were some great wetland grasses too. Here is Andropogon glomeratus. Its flowers remind me a lot of my Little bluestem grass. Sure enough – when I looked it up, one of its common names is Bushy bluestem. Much bigger, but just as lovely.
I thought it looked fantastic with Canna ‘Blueberry Sparkler’.
Society Garlic is such a funny name – here is a variegated form.
Star grass – Dichromena colorata – is wonderful!
Never managed to find a name for this beauty. If anyone knows, please fill me in on the proper ID. It is such a fabulous grass, but I forgot to ask! 😦
Colocasias were abundant, and have the best leaves ever!
This black, puckered Colocasia was new to me.
Here it is in a more open state. What an oddball, huh?
Red leaves littered the ground…
… draped themselves over other plants…
…and generously decorated birdbaths.
This time of year, most of the hardy water lilies are done blooming. You might have more luck with the tropical ones. Time to explore the greenhouses!
This is the hardy waterlily pool.
Don’t know if he has a name, but he is clearly standing guard over his domain. He and his two birds make quite a striking impact!
You could still find a few budding lilies here and there.
The first tropical waterlily house was quite sparse…
… but there were a few near the waterfall in the far end.
They had a Wisteria climbing on the arching structure. I bet it looks amazing in spring…
As for right now, the Sumac clearly stole the show. We wandered off to the second greenhouse.
WOW! What a difference! This is where the action is!
This was the first time I’d ever seen Lotus leaves up close. Had no idea they are spiky!
Some of them sported fantastic textures – especially as they are unfolding. The reason the water looks blue is that a black dye was added to the water. This year’s heat made algae go completely nuts, so in order to divert some of the light, the dye was added. We were told it is completely harmless to both plants and animals.
Loved the wavy texture of the petals of this one.
A large Norfolk Island Pine was the background equivalent to the Sumac in the first greenhouse. Such a fabulous tree!
Are you tired of this yet? Hang in there – we’re almost done!
On our way out, I saw these peas, magically planted against the chartreuse background of Scotch moss. Accident or not – it was magnificent!
Beyond the beans, we were drawn to this gateway.
It took us to a path that wound through a woodland.
There were more of those wonderful Alders.
Suddenly a pond appeared!
It was quite overgrown. Marian said the water level was a lot higher last time she was here. Makes sense – I bet half of it evaporated this summer.
I think every pond with self-respect needs a Willow tree, from which shade one can admire the water and reflect on life’s mysteries.
There were Koi in the pond, but I didn’t get a good picture. Coming across this fabulous concrete/metal bridge more than made up for it!
The berries from a Hawthorne draped beautifully from above…
… and ferns created a lacy screen toward the pond. It was quite magical!
I caught one of the last flowers of a Clerodendron before those marvelous seed heads develop.
We walked on, and now I knew where we were. We’re back by the Timber bamboo grove I admired earlier – the one with the albino Fatsia. But how could I possibly have missed that tree?
What a beautiful silhouette!
The sap was glistening from its wound.
We played around in the bamboo forest for a while…
…before it was time to head home again.
Doubtlessly, I will be back soon. I have a feeling I will be obsessing about water gardens from now on, and probably won’t rest until I at least have a little water bowl to call my own. If you have an afternoon to spend, and need a nice diversion from life in general, you should consider Hughes one of your options. It was a lovely escape, indeed! 🙂
NOTE: If you go, be sure to call them first to make sure when they’re open. As of this week, they will be closed on Sundays, but that’s not yet on their website – it still lists their summer hours.