ristretto’s neighborhood

Whenever I get to a rendevous early, out comes the camera for a tour of the neighborhood. I like to meet people at my son Din’s coffee shop, Ristretto Roasters over on Williams St in North Portland. Not only is the coffee extra special, but I just might run into Din or Nancy and get caught up on their busy lives. Anyway, here are a few shots of the surrounding neighborhood.


Heading down a side street, this guy was the first thing to catch my eye. I knew this was going to be a fun walk.


Recently completed hardscapes in this garden, a half-block away from the gargoyle, were of a more serious nature. The impressive gates lead into a vegetable plot. In the foreground, curved beds are separated from pathways by cor-ten steel barriers.


Here, square metal boxes are set within the curved bed. The plantings are all brand new. It will be interesting to revisit this garden as it grows into its “bones”.


Turn a corner, and WOW…these people are not afraid of COLOR.


So of course there was an abundance of colorful plant material about. I hadn’t seen this Echinacea before, but now I will be on the lookout.


This has got to be what is meant by “vine covered cottage”…and around back, a vegetable garden.


Across the street was this understated, subtle paint job with a jungle in front.


Time to get back for my coffee fix. As so often happens on these expeditions, I was surprised at how far I had wandered. This whole block of parking strip was barkdust mulched with the occasional rock to break the monotony, but clustered near the corner was a mature clump of yuccas. The city might have something to say about that spilling over the curb, but I find it charming.


Back on Williams, intense efforts to bring the neighborhood back from the brink have resulted in lots of new construction.


New projects are going forward even in this down economy.


With gentrification come many things, but in this case the neighborhood has kept its sense of humor and identity.


…right down to the large corner lot devoted to a thriving community garden. And now for arguably the best cup of coffee in Portland. Hey! Other people swear by it…not just his mom.

20 thoughts on “ristretto’s neighborhood

  1. Just read that in the N.E. part of Portland is a chap called Sean Hogan, who has done unusual things with his garden, all southern hemisphere plants. Seeing that his garden was too small for his yen for plants, he talked his neighbours into letting him do their gardens too. Any idea where this is so you can look at it? By what I read the houses are similar to the ones you walked past.
    I enjoyed your walk, and wish I could share a coffee with you in your son’s place.
    BTW, the pictures are great. Lenscap off did the trick 🙂 Sorry for having been so cheeky. That double cone flower is beautiful.

  2. See! — Yet another co-incidence:
    I read a paragraph about this Sean whoever he is, and you publish a post that leads to a comment from Loree on him a few hours later.
    These co-incidences are making me nervous. Even long-distance it seems to follow me.
    Although…..maybe I can make them pay? I’m thinking lottery, horse races,….
    I’d be very curious to see some pix from these gardens. Either from you or Loree.

  3. Joco~Sean has long been a force to reckon with in Portland OR. Way back before anyone had thought to use a parking strip as a planter, he filled his with a riot of color that stopped traffic and got written up in several grass roots gardening newsletters. Then he and a partner started up Cistus Nursery. If you read Loree’s blog, mine, or any other sprouting in this neck of the woods you know all about Cistus. He has also authored books and spoken to gardening groups. The garden you read about was on a tour a few years ago, so I had the pleasure of soaking it all in, and yes, it extends deep into the surrounding neighborhood. I find that I can hop out of the car almost anywhere in Portland and find interesting approaches to gardening within a few blocks.

    Loree~With all the press you have given Cistus, I’m sure you must have an in with Sean. Maybe we could do a joint blog about his garden. Wouldn’t that be fun? With an interview, perhaps?

  4. I don’t think I’ve “got an in” although I wish I did! A joint post would be fun! Can you imagine the poor guy looking out his window to see these two ladies out there snapping pictures? Wait, I bet that happens all the time. I didn’t realize his garden was on a tour. What fun that must have been! That reminds me I keep meaning to do a drive by and see how the Tetrapanax are looking in the front garden, I bet its a jungle.

  5. Ricki, The flower is Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy.’ I recognize it from my garden although mine aren’t nearly so fluffy.

    How proud you must be of your son’s thriving business. I think I’d be a regular customer too if it were my child’s place.

    The Yuccas would look better if they were deadheaded. Leave it to me to point out the negative. Sorry.

    I’ve seen these uh, unconventional house colors in my neck of the woods too. Very interesting….

  6. Loree~See! Now that you are a member of HPSO you will hear about these things. The open gardens are my favorite perk.

    I was thinking more along the lines of sending Sean an email to introduce ourselves and suggesting a legitimate visit with Q&A and a little bit of personal background.

    Grace~Should have known you would have that gloriously PINK Echinacea. If you ever find yourself coming to PDX with a little extra time, let me know. We can meet at Ristretto for a cuppa.

    Not sure I would like to look out my window at a hot pink house, but it was a fun part of the mix walking by.

  7. Very cool walk. It’s nice to see the neighborhood not only come back from the brink, but also to do it such a quirky style where each property has its own special character. Age can really transform a neighborhood in interesting ways!

  8. Nice post…I also love walking around neighborhoods on occasion…it’s always interesting to see other peoples’ gardens and solutions to site problems. Williams is a really interesting neighborhood, even though I’ve only been in PDX for about 6-7 years, even in that short time, it has changed dramatically! I love the steel border on the path…nice idea.

  9. I really love to chat with my neighbors especially about with our garden. They are also open with their garden problems and to think of that it makes our relationship good. I love your post and it’s my first time to read post about their neighbors’ garden. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. I love the enchanted dragon on your first photo. Gardening is really a great start to make good relationships with your neighbors especially when all of your neighbors have a garden also. I really like your post and I just hope that I can see more on your next post.

  11. I’ll need to stop by your son’s place – it’s right in my neighborhood. I really like the new business development going on over on Williams. It has tons of character, the businesses are unique and inspired. New development can be hit or miss, but in this case it seems to have been done right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *