This is the third and final in my series of informal reports on our Conference and Constitutional General Meeting in Portland, Oregon, USA in September 2010. For the first report, please click here. If you wish to go to the second report, please click here. There will be a full write-up in the next issue of our journal, Clematis International 2011, which I estimate will be published around May/June 2011.
Garden of Mike and Linda Darcy
As morning progressed into afternoon, the day was getting steadily warmer and the sun stronger. After a final wander around Luscher Farm we boarded the coaches and headed off for the garden of Mike and Linda Darcy.
Mike Darcy is well known in and around Portland as the host of "In the Garden", a gardening programme broadcast every Saturday on radio KXL. He is also a former director of the FRCC. We were greeted by Mike and Linda, plus some very tasty snacks and a wine tasting of local Oregon wines by Great Wine Buys of Portland.
It was obvious from the start that Mike and Linda's garden was somewhat out of the ordinary. Whether it was the oriental style arch bearing the inscription "Life began in a garden", the Thai (possibly) prayer bell or the lawn with it's dramatic backdrop border containing many exotic plants, this was a quirky garden.
Within minutes of entering around the side of the house we had dispersed to all corners of the garden and there were no more than a handful of our group to be seen, such was the deceptive size of the garden and the clever design and planting which gave a feeling of privacy even though others might have been within a few metres.
In amongst the plants were many pots and other sculptures from around the world, but especially the far east. They were used a focal points and plant supports, giving height and form or adding colour. Or maybe just for fun, as I feel this elephant did underneath the bamboo.
Behind the lawn and border was an intricate set of paths weaving in and around flower beds. One realized that one of the reasons was to ensure that anyone venturing into this area would be virtually guaranteed to pass by most of the beds. A very clever design but one we all appreciated since, although sometimes you had to look hard to find them, many of the beds contained clematis.
I have one final thing to mention - the paths. Initially they looked as if they were a sort of bark mulch, but get down closer and one could see they were made of cracked hazelnut shells. I guess they make a very long-wearing surface since the nut shells are certainly very hard and probably relatively waterproof. Unusual, attractive and very clever, but probably only practical if, like Mike, you can source them from a nearby factory.
Garden of Charlene and Bill Tuttle
Arriving at the house of Charlene and Bill Tuttle, it looked an ordinary everyday home with a well-tended, albeit relatively moderately sized front garden containing quite a few clematis.
There were some very attractive supports for the clematis and quite a lot to interest all of us. But nothing to indicate the surprise awaiting us as we walked around the side of the house to the back. To call it a "back garden" totally does it an injustice. It's more akin to a small estate!
It started with a large lawn area running down from a substantial raised patio, followed by a semi-formal flower area, with a large barn-like building on one side and a medium-sized orchard on the other, a large vegetable area, then more lawn and so it carried on until one came to the bank of trees which partially hid the river that flowed past the end of the plot.
The size was formidable, but the usage to which various areas had been devoted was varied, impressive and nicely informal. The whole garden, and it was big, had a friendly air of use and pleasure.
Certainly there were some good clematis, often with stylish supports. I particularly liked this C. 'Evithree' ANNA LOUISE on a rather fine wrought iron frame.
There was also this C. 'Venosa Violacea' on an arch by the side of the house.
The lawn had been scattered with tables and chairs for us to enjoy supper, a wonderful buffet served on the terrace at the back of the house and overlooking the garden. It was a lovely evening and as the sun gradually went down we chatted contentedly.
It was a perfect finish to a very good day.
Sunday saw us in the Lecture Room at University Place for a day of talks, by Duncan Donald on "That's another vine mess you've gotten me into: Tales of the Clematis Registrar", Brewster Rogerson on "The journey of the Rogerson Clematis Collection: Deep History", Lyndy Broder on "There's Zone 8, and then there's Zone 8: Challenges of growing clematis in a humid climate" and Chris Sanders on "Mysteries of the Montanas: Deciphering confusion in the Montana Group". A wide range of topics with something for everyone.
There was also a very pleasant intermission when Duncan Donald, International Clematis Registrar, presented Brewster Rogerson with a certificate acknowledging the registration by the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection (FRCC) of C. 'Sixten's Gift'. This was especially significant since Sixten Widberg, breeder of this clematis, and his wife, Ingar, were both in the audience and able to join Brewster for the short ceremony.
Dinner with Sally and Howie GeistThe venue for dinner on Sunday evening was the house and garden of Sally and Howard Geist. Sally, for those that don't know, is the current President of the FRCC.
Their garden is on a slope, quite a steep slope, as we all realized on arrival. Even the front drive is quite a steep climb.
The garden comprises a number of terraces with narrow paths to navigate. The planting is dense and there are lots of clematis, interspersed with many other plants. People milled around, admiring the garden (and the energy necessary to make a garden on such an inhospitable site), chatting about the events of the meeting so far and enjoying a drink (including a barrel of Lucky Labrador beer) until dinner was served.
We were lucky with the weather this evening as we were able to sit outside and enjoy a delicious buffet dinner.
And the terraced garden came in very useful for additional seating as you can see.
Even with dinner finished, the evening was not quite over as we took the opportunity to celebrate Brewster Rogerson's 90th Birthday, only 3 months away in January 2011. Suddenly a large cake emerged from the house, carried by a slightly nervous waitress. However her hands were steady and we all enjoyed a slice and wished Brewster "Many Happy Returns" for next January.
Our first stop the following day was Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island, northwest of Portland. They describe themselves as a retail micro-nursery specializing in Mediterranean, southern hemisphere and hardy tropical plants, so we were not expecting too many clematis. But they did have some spectacular plants and much to interest all of us.
From the road a track leads deep into the nursery. This is primarily because the nursery has a deceptively average width frontage, but extends back a long, long way. Down either side of the track were beds densely planted with all sorts of interesting and exotic plants.
Sean Hogan, owner and principle designer, led up "up the garden path" with a running commentary of the most interesting specimens.
Within these beds were some tall trees and they gave height and matureness to the planting. I've always loved eucalyptus and so I was very pleased to spot this example.
I also love bamboo, and in a corner of the sales area I came across a wonderful selection, any height you might want, though quite how you'd get the tallest ones home I don't know.
After the conducted tour we were left to stroll at leisure. I happened to be passing some tall exotic flower stems (I'm sure many of you can put a name to them, but I can't) when I was conscious of movement. My first reaction to anything like this is to grab the camera and fortunately that's what I did because it was a humming bird. You don't have time to think, all you can do is take as many shots as you can in the fraction of a second before it flies away, which is what I did. Of the three shots, this one just about shows the humming bird hovering as it takes nectar from the flower.
And then it was time to go, but for some members, not empty handed - temptation had proven too much for some.
Garden of George Soule
The next stop was the garden of George Soule, for a visit and as a location for lunch. George lived in what most people would see as an idyllic setting, with views in one direction of Mount Hood (I think, or was it Mount St Helens?), and a large garden running down to a lake. It's a garden where he can bring together a love of plants with the surrounding wild countryside.
It's one of those gardens which is not only deceptively large but also has little treasures, waiting to be discovered by an inquisitive group such as us.
It was very fitting that we arrived here from Cistus Nursery as many of the plants came from there. For a similar reason it was appropriate that our next stop would be Joy Creek Nursery because that was the source of the clematis in this garden.
You can see in the above picture the careful thought that had gone into the planting. This island bed in the middle of the lawn, surrounding a large mature tree, was beautifully formed.
This lovely dry garden was situated in a corner of the garden, a little closer to the house. The mix of greys and greens, of vertical and horizontal, contrasted perfectly. And for added attraction, a small statue.
Joy Creek Nursery
The rest of the afternoon was to be spent at Joy Creek Nursery, and Maurice Horn, co-owner, was there to greeted us. There were a number of activities planned, including conducted tours and an identification quiz. But within minutes many of our group had vanished into the four corners of this nursery.
For those of you who do not know about Joy Creek Nursery, it specializes in clematis and has a very large catalogue list of available cultivars. Maurice has established links with breeders and growers around the world, particularly in Japan, which means he has many cultivars otherwise unavailable in the USA.
With great difficulty I've restricted myself to featuring just a couple of the many that caught my eye. The first is C. 'Yugiri', raised by the late Kazushige Ozawa.
My second is C. 'Seeryuu', raised by another Japanese breeder, Hiroshi Hayakawa. This integrifolia type has an unusual gappy flower which I found surprisingly attractive.
We were free to wander wherever we wanted in the nursery, but many gravitated towards the large display garden. Not only does it contain some wonderful clematis, they are planted in very natural settings, as they might be found in any garden. However to stimulate the garden designer that is within many gardener, the display garden also contains some highly unusual supporting structures, often incorporating household, garage or garden objects. I like the way they have weathered in to become part of the landscape.
Mark's on the ChannelThe final dinner of the conference was held at Mark's on the Channel, a floating restaurant on the Multnomah Channel that separates Sauvie Island (where we had visited Cistus Nursery and George Soule earlier in the day) and the mainland.
The sun was starting to go down as we found places both inside and on the deck by the water.
With terrific views (think this one was Mount Hood) we sipped our drinks and talked of the events of the last 8 days. It was a perfect way to finish both the day and the 2010 conference.
We ate supper and relaxed, watching the setting sun and being lulled by the gentle sway of the floating restaurant.
We finished our evening with entertainment by "Border Crossing", a local band. The perfect end to a perfect day.
So I finish my informal reports on Portland 2010 with the ubiquitous group photo, taken very fittingly at Luscher Farm, the home of the Rogerson Clematis Collection. We thank the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection for organizing and running a most interesting conference and meeting, as well as all the other helpers, donors and volunteers who made it all possible.
By necessity the group photo above has been reduced in size (and thus resolution) to fit this page and be practical for all viewers to see. However if you click on the picture above you can download a full sized version, but BE WARNED, it is approximately 4.7 Mbytes in size.
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