Posts Tagged ‘Rhododendron loderi ‘Venus’’

Thursday, 11 May 2017

As one storm passed over and another was due, with far worse weather predicted for tomorrow, we arranged to visit one of our favourite gardens a day earlier than planned.

While this Willapa Bay garden merits a visit at any season, rhododendron time is its peak.  Some of the rhodos had already bloomed, starting in February. (As I was looking something up for this post, I ran across this article that I think will please rhododendron fans.)

Join us as we walk with Steve and John from the house, down through the gardens and back.   In the photo captions, which we hope are correct, R. of course means Rhododendron.  All mistakes in identification are completely mine and will soon be corrected, because Steve and John will catch them.  I have virtually no expertise in rhododendrons.  Until I began to visit this garden, I had no idea how wonderfully varied they are.

close admiration of the tomentosum (soft underside of foliage) on a trio of R. pachysanthum by the front door

One of a curve of five or six Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Vintage Gold’

John at the start of a new path laid by local landscaper Steve Clarke

A well-built Steve Clarke wall guides the path around to the pump house.

chives in the kitchen garden (Allan’s photo)

A soft and misty space between rain storms.

Allan’s photo

To our left, R. loderi ‘Venus’ carried its fragrant flowers almost out of reach this year. Underneath is the white R. ‘Olympic Lady’.

looking up into R. loderi ‘Venus’

R. loderi ‘Venus’

new foliage on an old pieris

golden Taxus (prostrate yew) embracing several plants, including R. ‘Ken Janeck’

Allan’s photo

We are looking at an Osmanthus burkwoodii that is just recovering from the winter and early spring winds…

Garden bed to the north of the driveway:

Corokia virgata ‘Sunsplash’, center


Allan’s photo

shapes, including Pittosporum kohuhu (nicknamed golf ball pittosporum).  Note the twirly conifer to the lower left.  My notes just helpfully say “little twirly yellow guy.’

Steve IDs for me as Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’
(Nana Lutea Dwarf Hinoki Cypress)

Allan’s photo

Walking into the upper north gardens…

two toned pink R. ‘Perry Wiseman’ and, in the background, the white R. ‘Pohjola’s Daughter’

a wealth of pink tones on R. ‘Perry Wiseman’

Allan’s photo

a variegated wiegela, I think (Allan’s photo)

an impeccably perfect hosta

the brightness of new growth

Allan’s photo 😉

new growth on R. ‘Winsome’, a word that we agreed has fallen out of use.

This area around a tree had been the dreaded salal just two days ago, and now look:

sword ferns

Walking down toward the irrigation pond….

Tall R. ‘Beauty of Littleworth’ blooming above a pair of new rhodos

close up of the young pair, R ‘Scarlet Wonder’, in the above photo, one blooming and one not.

twins with different personalities

R. ‘Butterfly’

Allan’s photo

looking back at the de-salaled tree

R. ‘Milky Way’ with flowers like powder puffs

R. ‘Milky Way’ (Allan’s photo)

R. sinofalconeri (species) with fuzzy new leaves

R. stenopetalum

Thujopsus dolobrata

Allan’s photo

Looking south across the driveway, you can see the same full grown thujopsis that the driveway was made to curve around.

more bright new calyxes

R. ‘Susan’

R. ‘Susan’

Crossing over to the south side of the driveway…

cinnamon fern

Allan’s photo

more fuzzy new growth on R. leucaspis (species)

Steve’s favourite, ‘Starbright Champagne’

Rhododendon ‘Starbright Champagne’ blooming a couple of years ago

Looking west, I gasped when I saw (below) a vasty new area that Steve and John had grubbed out of rough undergrowth:

I know this will soon be a display of wonderful new plants.

Below is a new area created last year:

looking east

The paths are delightfully soft and springy underfoot.

impeccably pruned sword ferns by the stream ditch that bordered the estate; you can see on the other side what they look like uncared for (just brown and tatty).

new area made last year

a handsome Disporum ‘Night Heron’

strongly textured R. erosum


Allan’s photo.  The background of native meianthemum is not a favourite and will be controlled as time permits!

Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ showing off

Allan’s photo

Athyrium ‘Goliath’, Japanese painted fern

a soft and kind Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’, no prickles!

more of the new area

Kalmia latifolia 'Sarah'

Kalmia latifolia ‘Sarah’ (Allan’s photo)

perfectly trimmed deer ferns (Allan’s photo)

bluish new foliage on R. lepidostylum

R. ‘Little Carmen’

stunning new silver foliage. (The fuzz on the top of leaves is called tomentosum.) Steve says: R. sinofalconeri (like the other, smaller Vietnamese form we identified before, but this one goes 10-30′!))

(If you think I can read my notes on all these names, think again.  At least a third of these rhododendron identifications involved emails to Steve. Every time I visit this garden, I plan to spend the next winter making a proper database for my garden…and don’t.)

R. quinquefolium

R. quinquefolium , one of those you would not even guess was a rhodie!

Allan’s photo

looking back as we walk toward the house

a brief detour to look across the pond

drizzle begins (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo

R. ‘Carmen’

R. ‘Medusa’

R. ‘Kodiak’

detail, R. ‘Kodiak’

Allan’s photo

mossy backdrop for R. ‘PJM Compacta’

looking back

Rain started as we approached the house…

However, despite rain, I had to see the ladies in waiting.

R. ‘Tall Timber’

Due to rain and over-excitement I only got a fuzzy photo of this amazing R. benhallii that looks like an enkianthus.

Steve told me that Professor Ben Hall at the University of Washington has finally had this rhododendron named after him.  You can read more about his research here.

a covetable euonymous

weird and wonderful R. spinuliferum

By now, the rain was quite serious.

from inside the house

the dell of evergreen huckleberries

from the north window: the succulent pump roof landscape had frozen out over the winter.

Steve showed us some photos of how the pump roof had looked in close up late last summer:

like a miniature forest, we all agreed

It was time to warm up with tea and a treat.

John’s coconut banana bread (Allan’s photo)

A torrential and noisy sheet of rain fell. (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo

As we finished our cake, tea, and plant talk, a beautiful light fell over the bay.

Allan’s photo

From the front door (telephoto), Steve pointed out the glow of the red maple in the far distance.

On the way down the drive, departing, we took a few more photos of the early evening light.

A silver shower of rain suddenly fell off this tree.

Allan’s photo 😉

north of upper driveway

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

a row of redtwig dogwood along the lower driveway (Allan’s photo)

by the entrance drive (Allan’s photo)

the entrance driveway (Allan’s photo)


Steve’s photo


Allan cropped his photo because of raindrops on the lens.  I got the full view of the driveway, above, from Steve. I asked for the names, and here they are: “From the east, R. ‘Red gold’ — then two numbered (unnamed) crosses by Jim Elliott (from Knappa).  Next, four of R. ‘Gala’ — then two (low) R. ‘Naselle” — then R. ‘Lem’s cameo’  — then three R. ‘Nadine’ with  R. ‘Golden gala’ (not in bloom this year) on the very west end [closest to the highway].”

This rhododendron-lined driveway is shared with the home next door, which has just  been listed for sale.  It was once Clarke Nursery.  We all want to see gardeners buy it, and you’d have the best neighbors in Steve and John.  Here is the listing.  Here is the garden on the Rhododendron Tour.  And here it is on the July garden tour.  Just imagine yourself driving past that line of peachy rhododendrons to your own piece of bayside paradise.

We were glad to have found a time between storms to visit.  The next day began with a pea sized heavy hail storm that I imagine might have damaged some of the blossoms at the Bayside Garden, and rain and wind continued during the whole of Friday.


Skooter enjoyed reading this blog post along with Allan.



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Thursday, 21 April 2016


Tulip ‘Leo’ at home.  A Christmas gift from Todd that we have been admiring daily.

Garden Tour Nancy and I had our first “swanning about” day of the year as she drove us by five of the excellent gardens she has picked out for this year’s Music in the Gardens Tour.  (She could use a couple more large gardens for the tour, so if you know of any, let me know.  The garden tour rule is that a garden cannot be repeated till four years have passed since last time it was on the tour.)

We picked up delicious chicken salad sandwiches at Roots Juice, Salad, and Java Bar in Ilwaco.


Roots, a drive through for espresso, juice drinks and lunches


inside Roots

I did not take any preview photos of the gardens as we were viewing them just from the road.  Soonish, we will have a proper walk through for the purpose of description writing.

the bayside garden

We took a lovely break for a picnic at one of my two favourite private gardens on the Peninsula: Steve and John had invited us to include their bayside garden, now at its rhododendron peak, in our day of swanning about.  (It was on the garden tour just two years ago and also on last year’s Rhodie tour).


along the driveway, rhododendrons going back to when this was Clarke Nursery


redtwig dogwoods coppiced along the right side of the drive (for brighter red stems)


an old rhododendron to the right of the long drive

Advance garden touring is hungry work, so our picnic came first.


a perfect seat for a picnic

Nancy had brought me a bag of birthday gifts, delightfully stretching my birthday celebration out for an extra month.


Clever wrapping for a St Patrick’s Day birthday book: Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul


and a bunny to go in a flower pot, and a pot holder much too pretty to hold pots with.  It will go on the wall.

And a customized card by our good friend Artist Don Nisbett with a perfect quotation inside:


Roots picnic lunch: chicken salad sandwich on flatbread


the view from our picnic spot


picnic view

Satisfied with our yummy sandwiches, Nancy and I took a walk all around the garden.  Formerly part of a rhododendron nursery, it is a skillfully planted combination of young plants intermixed with mature shrubs and trees.






Nancy inhaling the fragrance of Rhododendron loderi ‘Venus’


Rhododendron loderi ‘Venus’


The garden abounds in young rhododendrons.


hostas and perfectly trimmed sword ferns

(Last week when driving north on the road past this garden, I had noticed that even the ferns along the highway are perfectly trimmed.)


Ulmus x hollandica ‘Wredei’ by the pumphouse

The succulents on the pump house roof have sailed through the mild winter:



the Willapa Bay side of the garden; in winter, the highest tide comes up to (and maybe over) the plantings.


clipped naturescape of evergreen huckleberries and sword ferns


north side path


the north upper garden







old rhododendrons




woodland glade with rhodos and evergreen huckleberries




along the south side of the driveway










This tidal stream marks the south edge of the acreage.




The old irrigation pond

Due to my knee playing up today, we did not walk across the lawn to explore the pondside bed.


east of the pond

As always, this garden refreshes and inspires me (and makes me go to the internet to try to find a source for buying a reasonably large Rhododendron loderi ‘Venus’).

Meanwhile….Allan’s day at work

Allan took the opportunity to work on his own particular garden job at

The Ilwaco Community Building


Rhododendrons and Tulip ‘Flaming Spring Green’


Tulip ‘Flaming Spring Green’


Tulip batalinii ‘Bright Gem’


Rhododendron by the bus stop


the curse of horsetail before weeding


in the tiered garden bed


before pulling the accursed bindweed in the tiered bed

Long Beach

Allan went on to continue the weeding of the center berm by the Long Beach parking lot.




It is a hard packed and miserable challenge.


some progress made





There are still several feet to go.


Allan and I briefly intersected before I had an evening of quiet reading whilst he went to dinner at the Salt Pub with his former spouse, Arlene, who was having a Long Beach interlude on her way to a beach vacation on the Oregon coast.


Arlene, who had recently acquired a darling mini Cooper.


I have been reading the first of the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard.  The library only has the first so I’ll have to acquire the rest of the series through interlibrary loan.  I am completely smitten with The Light Years.  EJH had been a favourite author of mine years ago.


How well she captures the joy of a child making a miniature landscape:


and the English landscape itself:


Tomorrow:  If we can get enough work done, we can have another three day weekend.

Ginger’s Garden Diaries


from my mother’s garden diaries of two decades ago

1995 (age 71):

April 21:  Wasted whole day waiting to go to the store.  Bought 12 pansy plants from Gordon’s [Nursery].

1997 (age 73):

April 21:  about 2:30-6:00   It was warm enough to work outside.  I planted the 2 astrantia replacements from VB in the patio bed next to RR ties.  Planted the 10 raspberry plants that have been potted since Feb.  Then cleaned weeds out of RB row and the path between RB and SB rows [raspberries and strawberries].  When I quit and came in it was 6 and Tabby was starved.

1998 (age 74):

April 21:  Dentist appt 1:00 for a filling.  The dentist office asked me to change appt to Thurs due to emergency in other office so this day is shot.  I called in $150 Bluestone order—mostly mums.  I cut the tulip flowers in tam area.  There are lots of weeds again.

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1 January, 2015

We had been looking forward since early December to a New Year’s Day brunch at the bayside home of Steve and John.  Their social events never give me any advance anxiety, probably because the ones we attend are all about gardening.  I will say that I feel that I have to exercise my brain really hard to keep up, especially when Seaside gardener Pam Fleming is another of the knowledgeable guests.  It’s good for the old brain cells to work hard.

The sun was bright, almost too bright for photos.



fluffy Pinus palustris with the bright stems of Acer palmatum 'Bihou'.

fluffy Pinus palustris with the bright stems of Acer palmatum ‘Bihou’.

As I wrote this, I got all excited at the fluffy, appealing pine  called palustris, which usually means a plant will grow in wet soil. Then I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that “the scientific name meaning, “of marshes,” is a misunderstanding on the part of Philip Miller, who described the species after seeing longleaf pine forests with temporary winter flooding.”  So I won’t try it in the boggy back garden.

I should have asked for an exactly ID on this.  Will add later!

I should have asked for an exactly ID on this. Will add later!

above: Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan palm, windmill palm or Chinese windmill palm)

dramatic winter shapes

dramatic winter shapes

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

one ridiculously early rhodo flower

one ridiculously early rhodo flower


I simply had to Waterlogue it.

I simply had to Waterlogue it.

They say you can really see the structure of one’s garden in black and white, so let’s have a look at it altered with the BeFunky app (which has some enjoyable effects even though I think the name of the app is silly).

looking good indeed for winter structure

looking good indeed for winter structure

west side of the house

west side of the house

To the north, I saw a bald eagle sitting with his back to me.


I turned from my Lumix pocketcam to “Spot”, the lens-scratched Canon camera with a more powerful telephoto.


Coral bark maple near the front door

Coral bark maple near the front door

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

a pink camellia, taller than the house and in full very early bloom

a pink camellia, taller than the house and in full very early bloom


In we went.  I had hoped to bring a few hellebore seedlings, but at midmorning they were still solidly in the ground, so I could only bring a small bouquet of intensely fragrant Lonicera standishii, whose tiny white blossoms do normally bloom now.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo


Lonicera and some corkscrew rush in glass jar

Steve putting the finishing touches on brunch

Steve putting the finishing touches on brunch

I sat at the end of the counter and noticed, as I always do there, how perfectly the front door frames the coral bark maple.



When Pam arrived, the devices all came out and assorted plants were looked up.


Lonicera standishii was one of the plants explored online.

Lonicera standishii was one of the plants explored online.  (left to right, Allan, John, Steve, Pam)


Behind orange mimosas, Steve looks up a plant on his phone.

Behind orange mimosas, Steve looks up a plant on his phone.

back to chefing

back to chefing

his signature appetizer with carmelized onions and gorgonzola chees

his signature appetizer with carmelized onions and gorgonzola cheese

A gardening book was produced...

A gardening book was produced…

recently inscribed by Ann Lovejoy, whom we all adore.

recently inscribed by Ann Lovejoy, whom we all adore; this had been a gift from a Bainbridge Island friend.

I took a look out the north window to see how the pump house’s green roof is doing.  The weather has been hard on the California succulents.  Pleasingly, some survive.

greenish roof from north window

greenish roof from north window

a detail from the room

a detail from the room

a new sculpture which may go outside in fine weather.

a new sculpture which may go outside in fine weather.

Here are two crow paintings, probably both by local artist Pat Fagerland.


This one is most definitely a Fagerland.

looking down to the fireplace seating

looking down to the fireplace seating

which I felt would look good in Waterlogue!

which I felt would look good in Waterlogue.

The table was set on the lower level and we settled in to the repast and more plant talk.


Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Rather cosmically, just last night I had been reading about black eyed peas and New Year’s Day.

from The Warmth of Other Suns...

from The Warmth of Other Suns…

black eyed peas for New Year's Day

black eyed peas for New Year’s Day

The thought had crossed my mind that I should eat some black eyed peas today for luck, yet I had none and no idea where to get any.  And here, in our delicious brunch, the traditional black eyed peas played a part!

with quiche and spicy sausage...

with quiche and spicy sausage…

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo, with Pam’s addition of black eyed peas salad front and center; it is her good luck tradition, too!  I also think there were black eyed peas next to the quiche, so we’ll double our good luck.

and a bowl of fruit, including crisp Asian pears.

and a bowl of fruit, including crisp Asian pears.

the view toward Willapa Bay

the view toward Willapa Bay

The tide was going out.  During the recent high tides, the water came all the way up to that tree.

I looked at the lichen dangling from the tall tree and thought that the “snow” on the indoor Christmas tree sort of echoed that ornamentation.


The tide was going out.

Willapa Bay

In summer, Steve and John can see flickering campfires over on Long Island.

We repaired to the study to look at a Powerpoint presentation created to showcase the upcoming inaugural Peninsula Rhododendron Tour.  While we gathered, Allan took some photos from the window:

birdfeeder, Allan's photo

bird feeder, Allan’s photo

window view

window view, Allan’s photo

window view

window view, Allan’s photo

The presentation, created with wit and style, would attract any rhododendron fan to the peninsula.  Steve and John had recently presented it to the American Rhododendron Society’s Portland chapter and may show it to a chapter up in Seattle.  You will want to mark your calendars for May 2.


This tour will be in addition to the July 18, 2015 Music in the Gardens tour.

The presentation explored the timeline of the American Rhododendron Society itself…



The local connection was explored via the history of J. Harold Clarke, who was the grandfather of Steve Clarke, known to us in our day as the plantsman extraordinaire of Clarke Nursery.  Steve and John’s property and that of their neighbour, Ron Barclay, were part of the original Clarke Nursery.


Note the mention of a rhodo names after our Steve Clarke.


The story was set off beautifully by the eastern view from the study windows.

The story was set off beautifully by the eastern view from the study windows.

Both properties are rich in species and hybrid rhododendrons and will be the centerpiece of the tour, along with a breakfast lecture by Steve Clarke.

A series of photos told the story of the transformation of Steve and John’s property from a woodland full of ivy and salal to a collectors’ garden, revealing treasures of old rhododendrons and other plants along the way.

I recall visiting last spring and being bowled over, almost literally, by the fragrance of a particular rhododendron.  I now know this it is not ‘King George’; it is ‘Venus’.


not 'King George': 'Venus'

not ‘King George’: ‘Venus’, taken last April 22.


After the well done and informative show, we found that daylight was almost gone.


the tide is further out

The inside wall of the upper level mimics the shape of the windows in a most satisfying way.

The inside wall of the upper level mimics the shape of the windows in a most satisfying way.

the glow of the house as we depart

the glow of the house as we depart

and an almost full moon over the roof

and an almost full moon over the roof

When we arrived back in Ilwaco after dark, we saw the peace sign alight over the home of Don Andersen and finally managed to get a photo of it for this year.  It’s one of our favourite seasonal displays, along with the Christmas star over Jessie’s Fish Company, which we noted has been turned off for the year.  Allan walked up Elizabeth Avenue to get the pictures.

Elizabeth Avenue, looking north from Lake Street

Elizabeth Avenue, looking north from Lake Street

the Andersen peace sign

the Andersen peace sign

The peace sign, black eyed peas, and brunch with three of our favourite gardeners are surely all good portents for 2015.


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