A trip to Hughes Water Gardens

Hughes Water GardensYou 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...)

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.

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Metal seed head, and Acacia pravissima ‘Owens Wattle’.

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Planters with drippy glaze takes on a whole new significance with water pouring down their sides.

Planters with drippy glaze takes on a whole new significance with water pouring down their sides.

Loved the Raven!

Loved the Raven by the entrance!

Inside, they have just about anything you might need to create a water feature.

Inside, they have just about anything you might need to introduce water into your garden.

A whole wall of pumps await - and the staff know their stuff, and can advice you on which one will give you optimal results.

A whole wall of pumps awaits. The staff know their stuff, and can advice you on which one will give you optimal results.

 

 

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Planters, statuary, urns, and water-loving plants were everywhere!

Planters, statuary, urns, and water-loving plants were everywhere!

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These fun metal rebar reeds where strategically placed, and showed up in all sorts of vignettes.

These fun metal rebar reeds where strategically placed, and showed up in all sorts of vignettes.

The sound of moving water followed you around.

The peaceful sound of moving water followed you around.

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A very unique fire pit made with a repurposed old buoy.

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.

The tall, light trunks of Alders formed a striking view along a berm that stretched along the walkway.

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Behind them was a massive grove of Timber bamboo.

A variegated Fatsia japonica was elegantly juxtaposed against the towering culms.

A variegated Fatsia japonica was elegantly juxtaposed against the towering culms.

We were thrilled to see new shoots that were completely albino!

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!

Speaking of bamboo – this one looked a little worse for the wear. Who can blame it – this summer was harsh!

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.

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.

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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!!!

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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.

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.

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.

Here a Colocasia leaf is unfurling.

Canna and Papyrus.

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!

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!

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Papyrus

Papyrus

Love the airy flowers of Papyrus!

Hedychium

Hedychium

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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.

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'.

I thought it looked fantastic with Canna ‘Blueberry Sparkler’.

Society Garlic is such a funny name - here is a variegated form.

Society Garlic is such a funny name – here is a variegated form.

Star grass - Dichromena colorata - is wonderful!

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! :(

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!

Colocasias were abundant, and have the best leaves ever!

This black, puckered Colocasia was new to me.

This black, puckered Colocasia was new to me.

Here it is in a more open state.

Here it is in a more open state. What an oddball, huh?

Red leaves littered the ground...

Red leaves littered the ground…

... draped themselves over other plants...

… draped themselves over other plants…

...and generously decorated birdbaths.

…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.

This is the hardy waterlily pool.

Don't know if he has a name, but he is clearly standing guard over his domain. He makes a quite striking impact!

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.

You could still find a few budding lilies here and there.

The first tropical waterlily house was quite sparse...

The first tropical waterlily house was quite sparse…

... but there were a few near the waterfall in the far end.

… 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...

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.

As for right now, the Sumac clearly stole the show. We wandered off to the second greenhouse.

WOW! What a difference from the first greenhouse! This is where the action is!

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!

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.

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.

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Loved the wavy texture of the petals of this one.

Loved the wavy texture of the petals of this one.

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A large Norfolk Island Pine was the background equivalent to the Sumac in the first greenhouse. Such a fabulous tree!

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!

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.

Beyond the beans, we were drawn to this gateway.

It took us to a path that wound through a woodland.

It took us to a path that wound through a woodland.

There were more of those wonderful Alders.

There were more of those wonderful Alders.

Suddenly a pond appeared!

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.

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.

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.

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There were Koi in the pond, but I didn't get a good picture. This fabulous concrete/metal bridge more than makes up for it!

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.

The berries from a Hawthorne draped beautifully from above…

Ferns created a lacy screen toward the pond.

… and ferns created a lacy screen toward the pond. It was quite magical!

The last flowers of a Clerodendron before those marvelous seed heads develop.

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 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!

What a beautiful silhouette!

The sap was glistening from its wound.

The sap was glistening from its wound.

We played around in the bamboo forest for a while...

We played around in the bamboo forest for a while…

...before it was time to head home.

…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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
This entry was posted in Discoveries, Nursery industry and events, Visits to other gardens and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to A trip to Hughes Water Gardens

  1. A fascinating display beautifully photographed. Our clerodendrons are at the same stage as Hughes’s, but we didn’t get any water lilies this year

  2. rusty duck says:

    Going to that place would put a dent in my plant budget for sure, all those fantastic grasses and bamboos. We’re looking for a pot to use as part of a water feature, love the idea with the drippy glaze!

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh, don’t I know it… I showed great restraint and didn’t buy anything this time around, but my head is swirling with ideas. My main objective right now is to figure out where my water feature will go! Good luck pot hunting, Jessica!

  3. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    I didn’t expect such wonderful forest views from this post, but ooh, so nice! Love that the pond is there, tying it all together under the “water” theme. It’s really difficult not to immediately want to grow lotus when you see those leaves!

    (Lots of great photos here Anna!)

  4. Oh, Anna…thank you for the pix. I need to get there and buy me some water plants. The lotus intrigued us especially – maybe I’ll need a pond at the new garden!

  5. rickii says:

    This place has been on my “must visit some day” list for years. You have prompted me to move it up to “must visit NEXT YEAR for sure”. Many of your photos would be perfect Wed Vignettes.

    • annamadeit says:

      Ha – this is true Rickii! Why didn’t I think of that instead of using them all up in one post… If I were you, I would visit it this year, if you have time. It was so wonderful with all the fall colors. 🙂

  6. Dana says:

    Beautiful photos! And, this is close to where I live. I must check it out!

  7. Looks like an amazing nursery to visit!

  8. Kris P says:

    I’m sure I saw at least 50 vignettes suitable for your weekly meme in that post!

    • annamadeit says:

      Haha – and I’m pretty sure I had about 50 photos too many in this post, but good gawd – it was all so marvelous! But you’re right – I should have saved some. Oh well – too late now… 🙂

  9. lyart says:

    great photographs

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