a bonus post for friends who missed the weekend, including photos of Dancing Oak Nursery (location of next year’s study weekend garden party)
Sunday, 28 June 2015
Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend
On the walk from the hotel to the college, Allan photographed this water trailer set up used in Portland.
Allan says it was powered by a gas motor, not a battery like ours; the guy started it with a pull like a gas mower.
For friends who couldn’t attend, here are the particular takeaways from the three lectures we attended Sunday morning. As with Saturday, we barely got there in time, but Our Todd had held seats for us.
Todd’s VIP seat holding method
C. Coleston Burrell: Redefining Right Plant, Right Place
Cole Burrell at last night’s garden party (Allan’s photo)
Burrell’s lecture was wonderfully vindicating for me. Here are the fragments transcribed from my notebook, all quickly scrawled and only exact quotes if I enclose them in quotation marks. His slides were exquisite, so do go a speech of his in person if you can.
He spoke of a tree planting group with the clever name of Neighborwoods. Perhaps it was this one.
He recommended a book by Bebe Miles called Bluebells and Bittersweet: Gardening with Native American Plants as informative and also a good read.
He told us about the Biota of North American Program and showed us a slide of one of the maps that shows which plants are truly native to which area. I think it would be useful for people who want to be very specific in using native plants that grow in their own particular spot. (That’s not me, of course.)
He said that “Reginald Farrer was the first to give plants human characteristics…this plant prefers this…or that plant is miffy.” Before Farrer’s writing, we did not anthropomorphize plants. [I remember well enjoying the effusive prose of Reginald Farrer’s My Rock Garden.]
He spoke of the North America Rock Garden Society’s phrase “moving scree” and said you could achieve it by putting scree on top of an old fashioned motel bed with magic fingers.
Checks and balances like drought keep native plants from being invasive. [I thought about salal in a few terribly dry gardens still infuriatingly poking its way into other plants.]
He recommended the book Noah’s Garden by Sarah Stein for information like this: Robins eat the fruit of native dogwood, but Cornus kousa, the fancier cultivar, has fruit that is too big for them to eat. I read that book years ago and am due for a re-read.
Friends of mine (who know I’m not in the native plant brigade) might wonder why I say a lecture about native plants was so vindicating. Here comes the part I loved. Burrell quoted from Joni Mitchell:
Back in 1957
We had to dance a foot apart
And they hawk-eyed us from the sidelines
Holding their rulers without a heart
and said that making sure plants don’t touch in a public landscape is typical, but “we need to let them touch, bumping and grinding. Health and vitality depends on plants being integrated horizontally.”
[Oh yes! We quit one job, a local credit union, because the new director said he did not want any plants to “touch or come up through each other” in the landscape which we had created to be floriferous and Piet Oudolf-y. He then fired a friend of ours who had taken on the job, because our friend (having removed many plants already to make the don’t touch guy happy) refused to cut down a Shasta daisy in full bloom. That Shasta daisy was so old and well established that it pre-dated my work in the garden, and I praised my friend for refusing to butcher it.
that garden on June 29 2015
The way it looked when we did it, in 2010 (further back, which is now also changed to a barkscape with fewer plants). This was an early photo that does not even show its later lushness.
We got “let go” from another commercial job whose garden, under our care, had won the company’s regional landscaping award. A new manager had been hired and wanted the garden returned to plain, plant-less bark.
the way their fast food drive through looks now
July 29 2015: bark and horsetail against rhododendrons
the way it looked when we took care of it: flowers in front of the rhododendrons
entry to the drivethrough (garden now completely gone)
Sometimes remarks have gotten back to me of sniffy uptight people in whose gardens the plants are separated from each other and who disapprove of our gardening style. I appreciated Burrell’s full support of letting plants get up close and person with each other.]
Burrell recommended the book Sand County Almanac and shared this quotation:
one of Cole Burrell’s slides
Evelyn Hadden: Hellstrips to Havens: Paradise at the Curb
As it happens, I own her book Hellstrip Gardening and was particularly looking forward to her lecture. It lived up to my expectations with lots of information and great, inspiring photographs.
Smokey at home with the book.
Hadden describes herself as an “avid pedestrian.” She writes for the Garden Rant blog. She credits Lauren Springer, author of The Undaunted Gardener, for coming up with the term “hellstrip” and referred to an 800 foot long hellstrip, or curbside planting, I think made by Springer (but not sure; you know how notes are).
She calls cut off areas “fragments” (little pockets of dirt in a concrete environment).
Lawnless blocks make her heart leap.
Hellstrips and fragments in public places provide
beauty….expansion…xeric zones….more space…emotional benefits…respite…
giving people a new experience….
transforming a public sidewalk into a path through your garden (by planting on both sides)
front yard gardening is contagious. [I wish it were more so!; it was slow going when I first started curbside gardening at my house in Seattle, and when I left there were no others on my block, but when I go back now, curbside gardens are all over the city.]
Even a smallest pocket can make a landscape; otherwise there is no “place”.
The challenges of curbside gardening:
heat, roots, critters, flooding, litter, compacted soil, dog poop, access to cars, access—how to get across, wind, foot traffic, Home Owners Associations, power lines. [Oh yes, I know them all, except for HOAs. I had my original boatyard garden torn up and destroyed by the necessity to put in a new power line and fence.)
She advises “don’t put your best stuff out there.”
She mentioned a “pervious paving” that lets water through to tree roots and said that service berry is a good public tree.
Sh advised using well adapted plants and using nitrogen fixers to improve your soil. To my surprise, ceanothus is a nitrogen fixer (as are lupines). She also proposed the idea of using one season taprooted plants to penetrate compacted soil, an interesting idea that she says is untried. One plant she proposed trying was rutabega!
It is good to cover old soil with plants (and topsoil, I assumed at the curbside because it has years of lead contaminants.
Re watering…how to make it absorb…where the run off falls is where it is absorbed… Curb cuts let water in from the street side gutters.
More ideas: incorporate ledge seating, have a green driveway.
She says some plants are ambassadors for winning public acceptance of hellstrip gardening: “Grandma plants” (that remind people of their childhood), big flowers, color, fuzzy texture, curiosities…to make people like the garden.
People are reassured if a group volunteers to maintain a public garden.
She suggests giving lavender bundles to neighbours. Hey, I took a bundle of lavender to Salt Hotel because they are so supportive of watering at the port.
Hellstrips provide wildlife habitat…pollinators (early blooming crocus is good for pollinators), larval food, milk weed, plant diversity…
And [I love this]: Pest-free plants = no bugs = NO BIRDS.
Curbside gardens provide nest materials for birds. Hummingbirds use hairy leaves and plants with threadlike foliage. Leave the seed heads up, don’t tidy up.
Tree frogs drink from the drops of water on alchemilla (lady’s mantle). [I guess I will start liking that plant again!]
More about good plants for hellstrips: Communities of self sowers….plants that heal themselves if broken off…
[At the port, we also have to consider traffic sightlines in our curbside gardens.]
On her trip to Portland, she had been able to see the Wright garden for herself, after having used photos of it in the book.
She spoke about an earlier book in which she wrote about “having to move because of the stares”. It just might be this one, which I am going to acquire as soon as I get home.
What a wonderful lecture. It made me so glad that here on the peninsula where there are hardly any sidewalks with strips of curbside lawn, I am lucky to have the Port of Ilwaco curbside gardens to play with (and the beach approach in Long Beach, difficult though that is because of the way it used to get trampled before it became almost all rugosa roses…
I will re-read her book, and I advise you to get it if you have any sort of hot, dry, difficult gardening area, because the ideas can be translated into solving the problems of challenging home gardens.
I am fortunate to also own her other book, which I haven’t read yet but will in short order! (I got it as a free book at the Bloggers Fling and the only reason I haven’t read it is that replacing lawns is not something that comes up in my work.)
The silent auction was finalized.
I took a last close look at the stage display.
Allan took some photos.
Jonathan Wright: Design by Detail
Jonathan Wright plants and maintains gardens at the famous Chanticleer public gardens, with 7 full time gardeners working for him. He accompanied his speech with 237 exquisite slides. I could have happily viewed twice that many.
The promotion of a new restroom building at Chanticleer, to fit into a Japanese style garden area: “Come enjoy the flush of spring—the Asian pee house.”
The plant lists for Chanticleer are kept in beautiful boxes, instead of labels being stuck in all over the garden.
He said a garden like Kensington is meant to be seen from overhead—no details, no surprises. At Chanticleer, things that need further inspection slow visitors down in the garden.
They would rather use willow hoops than signs to keep people out of an area.
using rivers of white anemone to trace the pattern made by tree roots
peony stakes from hammered in copper tubes interlaced with copper wire
If you can see mulch you don’t have enough plants. [Yay! Thank you!]
Sometimes the detail is in what you remove.
reusing old things, like an old chain…thingie…with pockets filled with little succulents.
(Every single one of his 237 slides was amazing.)
Plants that I coveted:
Schidoxys, like a red allium…phonetic spelling; must find
rye seed interplanted with bulbs to hide old foliage
Echinacea ‘Rocky Top’
Little bluestem ‘Ovation’ and ‘Blue Heaven’
Scadoxus multiflorus (looked like a red allium)
dwarf amber sorgham
He plants summer plants into the spring plants (like pansies and alyssum) and then the spring plants turn into mulch.
He repeated that he hates seeing bare soil.
Put sod in a basket, cut holes in the sod and then plant in it…
“You don’t notice the details immediately, but you feel them.”
His book The Art of Gardening is coming out in September, and I can’t wait!
my favourite quotations from the three lectures:
We need to let plants touch, bumping and grinding. Health and vitality depends on plants being integrated horizontally. -Cole Burrell
You don’t notice the details immediately, but you feel them. -Jonathan Wright
Even a smallest pocket can make a landscape; otherwise there is no “place”. -Evelyn Hadden
preview of the 2016 Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend
After the lectures, a spokesman from the Salem, Oregon chapter of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon spoke to the crowd about next year’s study weekend. It will be in Salem instead of Eugene because of some sort of Olympics trials being in Eugene that month. The online registration will open early, on January 15th, and will be limited to 400 attendees. I have already set a reminder on my phone. The spokesman told us some enticing information: The seminars will be held in an old mill, and Sebright Nursery will be on the tour list, and the Saturday night soirée will be held at Dancing Oaks nursery. Dancing Oaks is a plant nerd’s mecca, one that is so far from where I live that I have only visited it once, in 2008. Garden Tour Nancy was there last month. This is the perfect opportunity to share her photos. I hope we will all be there for study weekend 2016.
Garden Tour Nancy’s visit to Dancing Oaks (late June, 2015)
the long road to the nursery
the welcoming gates
Nancy’s Phil, with “gorgeous, deep green bamboo”.
double flowering Philadelphus (mock orange)
Nancy brought some of these pitcher plants home. I was jealous!
Nancy says they have a large collection of hens and they sell the eggs.
So…we hope to see you at Hardy Plant Study weekend in Salem next year. I’m already so looking forward to a garden party at Dancing Oaks (and a major garden spending spree).
Our next post will get you back to garden touring, with four gardens yet to go before our return home.
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