there’s always room in Skidmore Woods

there’s always room in Skidmore Woods

Gardeners have been known brake hard when they happen upon this scene. It’s an ordinary city lot in the Alameda neighborhood located in northeast Portland. As you can well see, the gardener here employs stealth and magic in the tiniest spaces.

You know when you have the thought that there is no room for your latest horticultural heartthrob? Well I’m here to tell you, there’s always room–as evidenced by Skidmore Woods.

Skidmore Woods in Portland's Alameda Neighborhood.

Skidmore Woods in Portland’s Alameda Neighborhood.

I think people’s opinions on this fall into opposite ends of the spectrum, genius or madness. But in all seriousness, why can’t it be both. I LOVE this place. I’ve never been lucky enough to catch the gardener in process, though I do occasionally see evidence that he/she is nearby.

A gardener was here--one with an optimistic view judging from bin size.

A gardener was here–one with an optimistic view judging from bin size.

The very front corner shows remarkable restraint. One lovely Lace Leaf Maple. The kitty was there when I visited 2 weeks ago. So sweet and soft. Just like that cute dog Mae Mae I met a couple weeks ago in the Mt. Hood National Forest, I wanted to make her mine. I did not. Because that would be wrong.

Japanese Lace Leaf Maple all on its ownsome.

Japanese Lace Leaf Maple all on its ownsome.

I stood behind the maple to take photos of the sidewalk views–looking right to left.

The north sidewalk view looking east.

The north sidewalk view looking east.

Straight ahead. I’d love to get in there and see how it feels. It must be fantastic.

Straight ahead, the path to the house.

Straight ahead, the pathway to the house.

And the other way, to the north.

The west sidewalk view looking north.

The west sidewalk view looking north.

Taken as a whole, I’ll admit to the cacophony. But if you narrow your view, there’s a delicious scenario everywhere you look.

An Ilex? groundcover.

An Ilex? groundcover.

These are Cyclamen, right? I’m such a baby with these. Summer dormant confuses me. I’m I alone in that?

Solid silver and a variegated Cyclamen.

Solid silver and a variegated Cyclamen.

This looks like a Daphne to me, but I’ve been fooled before. It looks great, whatever name applies.

Daphne perchance?

Daphne perchance?

Peering this direction feels calming to my eye. It’s those clean lines of bark that settle it down.

Clean lines with layered backdrop.

Clean lines with layered backdrop.

Here’s a closer look at the conifer in the foreground. I don’t know my conifers, except Dedrus deodara, because my parents had one. Well, maybe a couple others, but limited knowledge at best.

A Thuja maybe.

A Thuja maybe.

I may need to disabuse myself of the notion that I don’t like Camellias. I suspect it’s because of all the Camellia in my past trimmed into lollipop shrubs. In Skidmore Woods, I’m reminded of their innate beauty.

White Camellia

White Camellia

and this

White Camellia acting a wintertime Romneya coulteri.

White Camellia acting a wintertime Romneya coulteri.

and pink ones too.

Pink Camellia with fluttering petals.

Pink Camellia with fluttering petals.

All shades of pink peeking though here and there.

Free form camellias, the way they want to be.

Free form camellias, the way they want to be.

I take it back. I do like Camellias. I do, I do, I do.

How's this for perfection?

How’s this for perfection?

And even when it’s waning, still terrific.

Glorious until the end.

Glorious until the end.

Every little spot is utilized to great effect.

A spot for a big leaf Rhododendron. Of course.

A spot for a big leaf Rhododendron. Of course.

Loads of green on green texture.

Delicious, no?

Delicious, no?

Before I developed full-on gardening mania, I toured a woman’s garden and I remember her saying, “I have so much trouble getting plants to stay in their place.” Say what? That’s just crazy talk.

Everything is in its own place.

Everything is in its own place.

Plenty of space on the garden floor too. Take advantage!

Look at those leaves. I.D. anyone?

Look at those leaves. I.D. anyone?

No garden is complete without Epimediums. Lots of them.

Epimedium, of course.

Epimedium, of course.

More gorgeousity.

Clean structure with busy backdrop.

Clean structure with busy backdrop.

And, of course, the glorious Arthur Menzies Mahonia. How do I not have this glorious plant? How about you, is it in your garden?

Mahonia x media 'Arthur Menzies'

Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies’

Can’t resist adding this picture too. The texture is just the best. Hope someone knows what it is.

What is it--besides incredible?

What is it–besides incredible?

To recap: yes, there’s room for your latest plant heartthrob. You may recommence planting. You’re welcome.

Cheers

 

  • Anna K

    Oh my – I have NO idea whatever that might be… With all that indumentum, my thoughts go to perhaps some kind of Rhododendron, but it doesn’t look like anyone I’ve ever seen… I love how the edges of the leaves look like they’ve been torn along the perforation. And then that crocodilian leaf texture… I’m mystified. What an interesting-looking plant!

    • I’m sure someone will fill us in. Tim thinks maybe a Viburnum. I bet Roger Gossler can tell us for sure. Cheers. p.s. I may steal that description, crocodilian leaf texture. You have such a way with words! xo

      • Anna K

        Okay, I’ll eagerly await a confident ID… Feel free to steal whatever word sauce I might be able to cook up! 🙂

  • Alison

    Oh, you have to plant some Cyclamen!

    • I know, Alison. I can be such a big baby. But if you say I can do it, I believe you. I believe everything you say. Cheers.

  • greengenes, Jeanne Cronce

    For sure a car stopper of a garden! I love the jungle feel of evergreens in this. No fussy flowers here either! I too would like to know what that one plant is!

    • It’s so much fun. I’m going to try to do a better job taking pictures season to season. Since we moved 3 years ago, I drive past it more often than when we lived in our other house–that was probably a little closer. Just not en route like it is now. p.s. I’m not much for fussy flowers either–until I see some that make me change my view. Thanks for popping in. Love hearing from you.

  • Tim Vojt

    I’m crazy about the madness. So much cool stuff crammed into one space. Dreamy. Love Camelias when they grow naturally-not that I can grow them here, mind you. I wish my Cyclamen hederifolium would perform as well as those gorgeous, dense plants in the photo.
    That mystery shrub is reminiscent of a Viburnum to me; perhaps V. rhytidophyllum? I could be way off….
    That Daphne (or whatever it is) is beautiful!

    • Oh good. Glad you’re with me. Though I know your own garden is nudged with a skillful hand and eye to a little more order. We heard from Roger Gossler of Gossler Farms, our very first nursery on plant lust (and first in our beta sales testing.) He knows the gardener, who buys from them, so an introduction might be in the offing. Excited.

  • Ricki Grady

    I’m a big fan of garden chaos. In government, not so much.

    • You and me, too, Ricki. It wasn’t easy to avoid mentioning the debacle…