Thursday, August 28, 2014

Let's Go! Crater Lake, Oregon's National Park

Let's take a pause from the Garden Blogger's Fling posts. I've taken my husband's advice and this week's post is about our recent visit to Crater Lake.
Crater Lake is Oregon's only National Park, a lake left behind after Mt. Mazama blew its lid around 5600 B.C. in an explosion some 40 times more powerful than that of another Cascade Range mountain, Mt. St. Helens in 1980. The park was established in 1902 and is the nation's fifth oldest park.

It is also the deepest lake in the U.S. at nearly 2,000 feet. It is an impossible shade of blue and something to behold, for sure, even for this native Oregonian. Its pristine forest areas are wonderful to explore and its flora is indeed very alpine at about 8,900 feet.

But before we get to the lake, we must go through the desert . . . the Pumice Desert.

Looking west. This is a desert with pumice some 200 feet deep.

I believe this is sulfur flowered buckwheat or Eriogonum umbellatum. A few of these are scattered about, but not much else grows in the desert. This is one tough plant.

Now let's go visit that lake:

There's Wizard Island

And the beautiful water . . .

Mountain hemlock needles. These are abundant in the alpine forests of Oregon.

The twisted trunks splay their own kind of beauty.

Some kind of rush, maybe dagger leaf rush? Perhaps my friends at Rhone St. Gardens can help identify, the resident grass experts.

Find the chipmunk! (There is no chipmunk. My husband wrote that.)

We have to remind ourselves that the lake area receives 550 inches of snow each Winter. This is some tough grass! And beautiful. I thought Rhone St. Gardens would appreciate these photos. I sure do!

All along the banks of the lake is arctostaphylos.

We found this view while hiking the Discovery Point trail from the primary viewing area near the Crater Lake Lodge on the south rim.

We called this the Salvador Dali tree.
 If someone would hang an alarm clock on this trunk we could sell it at an auction house. (Again, husband humor.)

Evening falls across the lake. This cloud bank disappeared and the recent SuperMoon lit the sky like a bright lunar flashlight. Made star-gazing impossible, but fans of the moon must have swooned. 

We stayed at the Crater Lake Lodge which was a treat. A lovely clean room, a beautiful lodge, a huge fireplace and bar/restaurant. There are chairs overlooking the lake where the restaurant serves drinks and goodies, you can watch the sunrise or enjoy a night cap, which I recommend. It was restored several years ago, and is superb. At one time, it was more or less an old barn of a building destined for the wrecking crew. Thank goodness that someone saved this beautiful building.

Alpine forest and meadow, across the parking lot. They seem to have really been thoughtful about landscaping up here - everything I saw were native plants appropriate to this area.

Veratrum californicum or corn lily. Probably looked better in the spring but a beautiful plant all the same.

Beautiful grasses. Super background. Sigh. Let's go back!

Agoseris aurantiaca or mountain dandelion. A very lovely wildflower.

Here is some Ribes cereum or wax currant. Native to the area, beautiful and plentiful. Many uses for this little beauty.

And now for something completely bizarre, The Pinnacles:
These odd rock formations are in a canyon on the eastern side of the lake. A few miles off Rim Drive, you wonder where in the heck are we going and then you see The Pinnacles! Wow!

Pretty deep down there. Right in the middle of the picture is a small sand-slide. We saw a little bird scattering sand. We have no idea what it may have been seeking. Nor did we have a lens large enough to capture it. Go Little Bird! Go!

Anyway, The Pinnacles are well worth the extra effort. Be careful, though, as most of your viewing is down from the edge of a cliff.

A little later, we went for a hike down to the water. The trail was lined with arctostaphylos.

Yowza! Isn't it beautiful?

I couldn't get over how much of it there was. Plentiful, healthy and native.

This little guy or gal wanted to be my new buddy. She ran over my feet, looking for a lift, I think.

Some kind of sage brush, very pretty. We did not see as much of it as you would imagine.

No, this is not an outhouse. We think it to be a weather station. Down along the shore, we took off our shoes and socks and turned our toes blue! Well, no, not really, but it is mucho refreshing.

Down along the water, you really get a sense of how vast this lake/crater really is! Talk about feeling like a speck in the Universe!

Alpine forests and arctostaphylos border the watery edges of Crater Lake.

The magic diamond sparkles of a perfect summer's day.

So I will leave you with this shot from the rim down to the lake. There is no blue like Crater Lake blue. There is no place like Crater Lake, and we urge everyone to take the 4-plus hours drive from Portland to experience this magnificent natural place if you are in the area.

It is magic, and it is pristine, still. We are lucky to be able to explore such natural wonders, and it's a treat to see it has not been overcome by invasive species of animals or plants. This is why I garden like I do, to continue to keep magic places like this available for us all.

Thank you for reading and until next week, happy gardening!

Upcoming blog posts: Farwest Nursery Trade Show, my garden in the late summer, and many more Garden Blogger's Fling gardens and nurseries to explore, too! Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Garden Blogger's Fling, Portland: Old Germantown Gardens

Day One of the Garden Blogger's Fling saw many great gardens, one that really left an impression on me and many Flingers is Old Germantown Gardens.

The gardens are lovingly tended by Bruce Wakefield and Jerry Grossnickle, and, at about 23 years old, are, in a word, stunning. The gardens we explored take up about two acres. There are many acres beyond which are wooded and as the owners say, "Left for the wildlife." As the gardens are quite near Forest Park, it seems the natural approach.

The style of the garden is hard to pin down. There are ponds, perennial borders, hot dry borders, a fabulous greenhouse with tropicals, woodlands and shady areas, and water features, too. The hardscaping is European in feel, including a waterfall, pools and fountains. Did I mention they do it all themselves? Yes, they do all of it. Bruce and Jerry are true gardeners after my heart.

Upon arriving at their lovely home on a scorching hot day (even for me), I immediately did some exploring, never mind the heat. I found this lovely saxifrage up front near the front door.

Down from the house a bit are the sunny perennial borders. Unbelievable amounts of plants, all healthy happy and many in full bloom.

Gravel paths in the bright sun leading me to another incredible niche.

Although this garden is definitely flower heavy, there are also evergreens in the forms of trees and shrubs to tie it all together. I'm sure this place is a wonderland in all four seasons.

What really amazes me is that even though it spreads out over two acres, every inch is thoughtfully planted appropriately for its particular situation - sun, shade, wet, dry, etc.

Here, overhead maples supply dappled shade for this Alchemilla mollis, rodgersia, rhododendron and polmonaria with a very well-sited empty vessel. The colors harmonize and make even just this one tiny corner of this vast garden sparkle.

Alongside a hot and dry gravel path, eryngium hosts home honey bees. There were many insects and birds about which is always encouraging.

Inside the incredible greenhouse I found a forest of unusual tropicals. Many were labeled with details such as "started from seed in 1998" or what have you. Oh, I can dream of such a greenhouse.

 Here's a cycad family specimen with a date of 1987. That was a very good year.

For some reason I did not get many images of the hardscaping. This is the only hint I can find. I was so focused on the plants and dazed by the glaring sun.

This is on the path down by the hot dry hillside garden. Look at those contrasting colors, spikes, mounds and leaves. This is what I would like to achieve for my own gardens, lots of year-round interest and contrasting colors that also harmonize. Varying heights lead my eyes to explore the whole scene.

This is about the fourth phormium in Portland that survived the winter that I have witnessed. Really.

More hot and dry wonders.

How about those colors? You don't always need blooms to make a garden shine. 

A lovely dasylirion that appears to be well-established. I really like the contrast with the conifers in the background, two very unlikely companions but it works in Portland. We can grow so many different species successfully, it really is an ideal climate (most of the time). Bruce and Jerry take full advantage of this fact.

I spy Laura of Gravy Lessons in awe, just like the rest of us.

The only thing I like better than silver foliage is bronze. 

More of the dry hillside portion of the garden.

As well as rare and unusual plants, Bruce and Jerry also grow many common ones like the crocosmia which against this lime green setting really pop. I see many perennials not yet in bloom, some sedum for example that will provide late summer and fall color.

Backlit meadow rue, or lovely.

More sun perennials, many species here and bulbs, too, many Asiatic lilies perfume the air.

The cool blue of this chair fits with its surrounding cool bog garden bordered by woodlands and shade.

Water lilies and other aquatic plants nestled up against the woodlands.

Their lovely home up on the hill with Flingers looking down on the view.

I believe this is a Cornus controversa. Please correct me if it is not - whatever it is it really glowed in the woodlands. If I had a bit more property I would definitely plant something similar.

Path through the edge of the woodlands. I see many Willamette Valley natives here, some Dicentra formosa to the left, some sword ferns and others.

Nice Pacific Northwest touch here.

My favorite native fern, maidenhair or Adiantum aleuticum.

Dappled shade along the path cooled the afternoon and made it lovely. Pockets of sunshine
were taken advantage of by lilies.

A golden variety of stachys takes advantage of the sun, too.

Moving back into the sunny areas of the gardens, there are many yellow accents here in the
stachys, daylilies and dahlias.

Beautiful rose arbors and conifers surrounding the garden from behind.

The view from the terrace next to the house. You can really study the layout from such a vantage point.

This garden has some good bones, they are pretty hidden but integral.

View from the terrace near a trickling waterfall feature (sorry, no photo...what was I thinking?), a canopy of established trees and this tetrapanax.

And lastly this combination of banana and lily, a very tropical vignette. The colors echo one another, the lily stamens pick up the bronze tints on the leaves behind.

This is one small example of many well-placed plants sited in just the right scene. Whether it was woodland or full sun, they know their garden and what it wants. They mentioned that they are now in the process of removing trees to create more sunlight, as 23 years of growing a garden has provided a lot of plants. So as they edit their garden, it continues to evolve and grow.

It was a pleasure to finally after several years of hearing about this wonderland see it firsthand. I thank Bruce and Jerry for opening their garden and home to all of us; it was a real pleasure.

That's the report from Old Germantown Gardens. Thank you for reading, until next week. happy gardening!