… a trip to Rare Plant Research. Okay, that was a slight exaggeration. We don’t do this kind of thing every day, but when we do, I really do love my job even more than I normally do. This is the weekend the fab local nursery Rare Plant Research opens up its doors to the public. I don’t know how I always seem to get so lucky, but I had the privilege of visiting today – before the crowds descend on the greenhouses and the amazing gardens, starting tomorrow. We made it a work field trip, and in addition to the usual suspects (William and Gina) we also had the pleasure of the company of Alex – the newest addition to the design team. In addition to a plethora of rare and unusual plants, this place also features a winery, and rent out their fantastic grounds for events of all kinds. I had wanted to visit for years, and finally got to. Also, this post is dedicated to Ryan, who – despite being sick – came in to work, which enabled us to go. Thanks Ryan- we owe you…
The first thing we saw as we came up the gravel road is this – a field of Eucomis and hardy Amaryllis in bloom. You can see the vineyard beyond. The closest ones resemble grazing, green dinosaurs.
A field of hardy Amaryllis growing in the ground.
The greenhouses are full of unusual plants.
The tropics abound!
I totally fell for the Watsonias.
Such fantastic color!
Apparently William liked it too. 🙂
Here is Burl, tallying up our purchases. We are so grateful to both him and his wife Cindy for taking the time with us today – the day right before their huge annual event.
A field of… um…Lewisias? Not exactly sure, but it was awfully pretty.
After wrapping up our purchases, we headed uphill to the marvelous house – rising out of the rocks, and built by Burl and Cindy about 8 years ago. The plantings that surround it are just as fantastic. Gina is heading over to admire the Ceanothus – it was buzzing with bees.
I was hoping the lavender in front of this giant Agave (I think) would provide some scale. It is massive!
There is even a mote around the house – complete with frogs! I bet spending summer nights here during a frog concert is absolutely magical!
Within the walls of the house, there is a covered courtyard with a year-round tropical garden. Here, we were served a glass of their wine – it was wonderfully delicious and refreshing!
A colonnade, covered in grape vines and kiwi. William told me that Burl casts all the columns and capitals in concrete himself. Makes me appreciate it all the more – that is so impressive!
Alex admiring the Laburnum tunnel. We missed the floral bonanza with about a week. Just a few days ago, the yellow tresses were in full bloom – I can only imagine what a spectacular experience it would be to be inside.
There were still a few blooms left here and there.
Behind the colonnade, is the upper pond. In the background is a small guest house. It is not yet finished inside, but there are some comfortable seating available and waiting for whenever someone would like to admire the sun setting over the landscape with a glass of wine in hand.
The terrace on the back of the house – so inviting, and with a spectacular view.
Looking down to the right, you see the lower pond, full of Lotus and water lilies. Beyond it is a large pergola where tables are set up for catered events.
Don’t you just love the shadow pattern?
You can see the greenhouses in the distance.
The little seating porch by the guest house. It was built out of urbanite – recycled concrete.
See Burl’s fingerprints?
Gourds drying. Eventually they might become birdhouses.
A long, urbanite retaining wall with supporting buttresses, planted with roses lead down to the party space.
The house seen from across the lake. If you look slightly above the water’s edge to the left, you will see something orange. It’s Burl’s dragon – coolest pet ever!
Looking across the pond toward the Upper pond. Magnificent drift of Petasites japonicus, or something like it.
Burl’s dragon guarding his lair. He must have had so much fun when he made this…! 🙂
Here he is, seen from inside the Grotto.
We’ve almost gone full circle. Looking from the Grotto toward the terrace at the back of the house.
Don’t spend all your money on plants. Be sure to buy some wine from Villa Catalan Cellars too – it is very tasty!
The stairs and the Gazebo across the pond.
If you can’t visualize what the plants you see in the greenhouses look like planted out, or if you need inspiration, take a gander around the gardens – they are all there!
So much to see and admire!
Beauty everywhere you see… In all, I took 409 photos when we were there, and I could have kept taking more, had I not been rather forcefully dragged out of there. There will be more posts on Burl and Cindy’s place soon, but nothing beats the real thing. If you have time this weekend, I highly recommend the very modest road trip. (It’s only about a half hour outside of Portland.) For the friends and family members who aren’t so fond of plant nerdery, there is always the Wine Tasting Room. I can think of a lot worse recreational activities for this weekend… Check it out!