All in a day’s work…

… 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.

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.

A field of hardy Amaryllis growing in the ground.

The greenhouses are full of unusual plants.

The greenhouses are full of unusual plants.

Rare Plant Research

The tropics abound!

I totally fell for the Watsonias.

I totally fell for the Watsonias.

Such fantastic color!

Such fantastic color!

Apparently William liked it too. :)

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.

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 really pretty.

A field of… um…Lewisias? Not exactly sure, but it was awfully pretty.

After wrapping up our purchases, we headed up to the marvelous house - rising out of the rock, and built by Burl and Cindy about 8 years ago. The plantings that surround it are just as fantastic.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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Rare Plant Research

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!

Rare Plant Research

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.

There were still a few blooms left here and there.

Rare Plant Research

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.

Rare Plant Research

The terrace on the back of the house – so inviting, and with a spectacular view.

Rare Plant Research

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?

Don’t you just love the shadow pattern?

Rare Plant Research

You can see the greenhouses in the distance.

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Rare Plant Research

The little seating porch by the guest house. It was built out of urbanite – recycled concrete.

Rare Plant Research

See Burl’s fingerprints?

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Gourds drying. Eventually they might become birdhouses.

Rare Plant Research

A long, urbanite retaining wall with supporting buttresses, planted with roses lead down to the party space.

Rare Plant Research

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!

Rare Plant Research

Looking across the pond toward the Upper pond. Magnificent drift of Petasites japonicus, or something like it.

Rare Plant Research

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.

Here he is, seen from inside the Grotto.

Rare Plant Research

We’ve almost gone full circle. Looking from the Grotto toward the terrace at the back of the house.

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Rare Plant Research

Don’t spend all your money on plants. Be sure to buy some wine from Villa Catalan Cellars too – it is very tasty!

Rare Plant Research

The stairs and the Gazebo across the pond.

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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!

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So much to see and admire!

So much to see and admire!

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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!

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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22 Responses to All in a day’s work…

  1. A lovely tour with usual wonderful photos

  2. Pauline says:

    Fantastic, it looks a really amazing place!

  3. Alison says:

    Isn’t it just the most amazing place!? I hope you found it inspirational.

  4. Loree Bohl says:

    Great photos Anna! I hope people still turn out for the fun, what with the rain forecasted.

  5. What a fabulous field trip! I loved the dragon.

    • annamadeit says:

      Me too, Kris! I loved all the fun, playful touches. And, it didn’t matter which direction you looked – there was always something to capture your imagination – a textbook display of well-sited focal points. 🙂

  6. rickii says:

    Wonderful photo-op, sans crowds of people, and you took full advantage. It will have to do me for this year…thanks!

  7. rusty duck says:

    That’s quite some place. Wish I was nearer, or for the benefit of my bank balance, perhaps not!

  8. Evan says:

    That dragon has to be new since last year. I remember that “lair” and phlomis, but not the beast guarding it! Great tour, Anna! I wish I could go this year but the remnants of a cold and a backlog of gardening chores are keeping me home this weekend.

  9. annamadeit says:

    Yeah, the dragon is new for this year, but then again, since I was a RPR virgin, it was ALL new to me. Hope you feel better soon, Evan – it sucks to be sick just about any time, but especially in spring.

  10. Mark and Gaz says:

    If we had ample time in Portland we would have visited this place. They have so many treasures!

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh, you would have loved it! They have an entire greenhouse full of the most interesting and unusual plants that made me think of Mrs Sprout’s collection in Harry Potter – so many of them were so oddly expressive… I took lots of photos, so a post on those is soon to come. Definitely earmark this place for a visit next time you’re here! 🙂

  11. hoov says:

    Wowza! — doesn’t that say it all?

  12. Peter/Outlaw says:

    This is a magical place and I love going each year to see the new additions to the garden and Burl’s latest concrete creations. The crowd on Saturday when I visited was large and excited despite the weather forecast. You got some great shots!

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