downtown’s west end

I was meeting a friend who works at the Oregonian for lunch yesterday. I got there a little early and took a look around,

looking east - the University Club

Looking east, the old world charm of The University Club, backed by screaming modernism.


Standing on that same corner and looking west, this spanking new high rise houses the latest iteration of Gifford’s Flowers.

cut flowers on display

Talk about curb appeal! Masses of cut flowers are arrayed down the block.

forced forsythia branches

Forced branches of plum and forsythia reminded me to get out there and cut a few whips to bring into the house. For the first time here, the forsythia is large enough to sacrifice some of its new growth on the altar of home decoration.

unusual cut flowers

All of the expected posies are represented, but how often do you see things like ‘love-lies-bleeding’ on sale by the stem?

wreath on window

pussy willow wreath

Time to step through the door…who could resist?

a counter full of posies

Behind the counter, shelves and shelves of containers to strike any mood.

whimsical bud vases

Zeroing in on a pair of whimsical bud vases. The glaze on these is beyond matte, for a very unusual, soft impression.

succulents and tilandsias

One whole corner is given over to succulents and tillandsias. They are not labeled, but unlike most shops selling succulents, someone here is up on things and can tell you what they are.

looking into the work area

My impression was that the shop is much larger than it was in its former digs, but they said no, it is roughly the same. Everything now is out in the open, and you can look into the work area where creations are taking shape.

bud vase at home

Surely you didn’t think that I could leave without claiming one of those bud vases for my own?

bud vase from above

I love being able to pluck or purchase a single stem and have a way to show it off, especially in this time of relative scarcity in the garden. The snowdrops benefit from a closer look than they normally get in situ, and I don’t think I have ever fully appreciated them before bringing this one in to occupy my new vase.

Euphorbia ‘Sticks of Fire’

I have been wanting a Euphorbia ‘Sticks of Fire’ for ever so long.

Euphorbia ‘Sticks of Fire’ up close

This one inflames my passion. I love the way the green at the base morphs into bright orange, with the new growth coming on in a bright shade of chartreuse.

Whenever I drive into town I have a list of errands to work into one trip, so off I went to Garden Fever in search of Castor Bean seeds. They always have charming sidewalk displays to greet shoppers and passers-by (who most likely turn into shoppers when they see what’s on offer).

tabletop pot of succulents

This time I was taken with the tabletop gardens. Notice, in this on, how the little bit of earth not covered by plants is mulched with purple glass. Inside the store, there are many choices of stones, gravel and other things you could use for topdressing to similarly dramatic effect.

pot with Corokia Cotoneaster

The tall ingredient here is Corokia cotoneaster, reminding me that I must give this plant another go…and maybe using it in a pot is the road to success (I’ve killed two of them already).

sweet little pot

Last I’ll show you a sweet little pot crammed with blooming heather, cascading sedum ‘Angelina’ and a tuft of a grass I failed to identify.

my purchases

No castor beans (uhoh, guess I will have to put my pocketbook in jeapordy with a return trip soon) but the unusual penstemon ‘Chocolate Drop’ and a new (to me, at least) zinnia ‘Red Spider’ from a source I haven’t seen before: Plants of Distinction, UK, with no website, came home with me, as did sweet pea ‘Singing the Blues from Botanical Interests. My assignment to myself is to get some seeds started this weekend. I usually put it off longer than I should. The tubular ceramic pieces in the upper right of the photo are destined to become segments in a totem I have in mind. With any success, you will see it here.

7 thoughts on “downtown’s west end

  1. Nice to see you feature Giffords Flowers. I remember them as Gifford-Doving when I first arrived in Portland and they were further downtown. Ben’s Great Aunt Jennie worked for them when she was sixteen – her first job. That was a lot of years ago and Florists and the West End has seen a lot of change in the intervening years. I love the vase you fell for! And tell me your friend at the big O isn’t Wenndi Fryder…that would be too tiny-town for me!

  2. Jane~You are saved from this instance of “tiny-town” (though it truly is, isn’t it?). Thanks for the tip: I’m due for a trip to PN before the containers get picked over.

  3. It all sounds good. I like the University Club building. It certainly has much more character than that imposing high rise. I like those wire plant stands and love the yellow bud vase. Snowdrops definitely merit up-close inspection, don’t they? I love them!

  4. Grace~What I love in that first shot is the juxtaposition of the two drastically different styles. And yes, I have a new appreciation for snowdrops after bringing one in to enjoy.

    Wendy~Marry for money: now there’s a concept: maybe next time.

Leave a Reply

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