out & about on the east side

We had a morning meeting, then some time to kill before meeting a cousin to look at a house he just made an offer on. First stop, Concentrates. If you are a Portlander and you do not know about this place, I highly recommend clicking on the link to learn more. It is a great place to find all of the nitty gritty unglamorous supplies like corn gluten meal in 50# bags for about the same $$ you would spend on a small amount of a name brand product. While I was waiting for my haul to be loaded into the car, I spotted this:


…across the street. To fully appreciate it, you must know that this is a heavily industrial area where most businesses shun any attempt to green up their surroundings. Doesn’t that undulating hedge look like a magic carpet ready to whisk us away to never never land?


Here’s a close-up. This must have been trimmed just recently. Just look at the sheer wall of hedge rising from the sidewalk. I will have to remember to check this out the next time I’m there to see if it is always this sharp. Usually topiary shapes spend a good deal of their lives looking a little out-of-focus.

Well, we were only 50-some blocks away from Portland Nursery with still a little time to kill. No-brainer, right? Richard had some questions he wanted to find answers to, so I just wandered around with my camera.


The very first place my eyes landed was this shrub/small tree next to the garage door in the parking lot. I got the name and wrote it down, but that elusive small scrap of paper has disappeared into the chaos of my studio. It sounds like Gary-I, but the spelling escapes me. Those dangling tassely things are haunting me. I may have to have one, and I know where to find it, even without that scrap of paper. Update: it is Garrya elliptica. It turned up in this morning’s Oregonian as Lori Vollmer’s favorite shrub, and was identified in comments here by Danger Garden’s Loree, complete with reference to a nearby source. Ain’t blogging grand?


Even in this plant mecca, things are looking a little sparse.


But a smattering of daffodils here and there does a lot to liven things up, and we get to glimpse some of the props that work behind the scenes to keep things looking perky later on.

hellebores & moss

The simple concrete retainer along the sidewalk has donned a mantle of moss to lend it character. The Hellebores spilling over it were a lesson to me. Mostl of the leaves had been removed. I guess I will try that this year, though I do love those leathery, sawtoothed leaves nearly as much as the flowers.


The liberal use of evergreens in the borders assure year-round interest.


I wonder if my upcycled Christmas tree will ever look this fabulous.

big rock

If you have had doubts about what a few strategically placed big rocks can do for a garden, this should tip the scale.


During the high season, things like the wonderful structure of this tree are obscured by explosions of color against a green background.

flowering tree

This tree is blooming on bare branches, so we get to enjoy the flowers while the structure still shines through.


I couldn’t resist stepping inside for a peek around. Whoever does the staging here does a great job of setting up groups of special plants to tempt us.

blue pots

Good thing I was on a short leash. The pot selection is huge.

walking stick

I’ve always admired Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick. Now that I have seen him dressed in this tasseled garb, I’m pretty much a goner.

One more stop was squeezed into our afternoon, but I think I will save that for next time. I don’t want to wear out my welcome.

6 thoughts on “out & about on the east side

  1. Ricki, I love that hedge. I was thinking it looked like a rolling wave but the magic carpet metaphor is good too:) Don’t you just love visiting nurseries and finding tons of inspiration. All that color is definitely making me wish for spring even more than I already am.

  2. I love Concentrates! The staff are the best and very helpful too.
    I fell victim to Portland Nursery’s pot selection just this past week. I’ve found that the choice gets smaller and smaller everywhere as spring and summer elapse so it doesn’t pay to wait too long if you need them (and I do!)

  3. Loree~ Oh, goody…a new reason for a trip to Cistus (as if one were ever needed). Thanks for the ID.

    Debbie~Rolling wave works too. The magical part is how it gets us thinking of metaphors. Nursery visits are the lifeblood of Portland gardeners as the rains continue to fall.

    Jane~Good tip and even better excuse!

  4. What a good post.
    I’ll have to get myself a cuppa to work through it in more detail.
    Is there a sidewalk police that tells people off if they overhang the path?

    Quite a culture this aspect of public sidewalk gardening. Here all we get is discarded coke cans and macdonalds empties.
    Yes, here in the UK they dominate street litter.

    Had my coffee. Now off to sculpt my miserable box tree.

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