Monday, June 26, 2006

The Traveling Gardener

Gardeners usually enjoy visiting other gardens and gaining new perspective to their personal designs and use of plant material. I am no different and I like to get out and about and get new ideas. When you're helping operate a nursery and trying to pay the bills, getting out is a little more difficult than it seems. But when your first grandson is born in Seattle, there is no other choice but to head west to celebrate the event and check in on some special gardens.

Portland, Oregon is about 175 miles south of Seattle but I timed my visit with the summer meeting of the Pacific Northwest Lily Society. I figured I could make some stops in Portland and scoot over the border to Washington for the meeting. It all worked well. There is quite a difference between the dirt road leading to Vermont Flower Farm and the 6 lanes going each way in and about Seattle and Portland but I adjusted enough to get by.

I planned to head to Portland Friday the 23th and make a few stops along the way. I had a little fear of coming down with one of those "airport" cold viruses that seem to prevail when you're traveling and on my flight in to Seattle I was surrounded by sick people. It only took a brief 12 hours and I began losing energy and I had to change my plans a little.

Two places at one stop included Portland's Japanese Gardens and the adjacent Rose Garden. I can't recommend these two gardens enough. and I seemed to have picked the right day to see the roses as the temperature was due to rise to unheard of levels but on my visit the bloom count was terrific and the fragrance was everywhere. In contrast, the Japanese gardens on the hill above, were much cooler and tranquil despite an equal number of visitors flowing through.

On Saturday the 24th I made my way past Battle Ground, Washington to the lily event. This is a great membership of hard working gardeners who greeted me warmly and made obvious their willingness to share information and friendship. The meeting concluded with an Internet tour of lily resources and a lesson in tissue culture. Then we left to tour the lily fields of Judith Freeman, owner of The Lily Garden Judith is one of the premier hybridizers in the world and also one of the nicest, most generous gardeners you'll ever find. Although the temperature was in the 90s and taking pictures was about impossible, just standing in the middle of hundreds of thousands of lilies was an opportunity not to be forgotten.

Today is Monday already and my list of places to visit has been reworked twice already. Some things will have to be postponed until my next visit. One thing is for sure, gardeners are friendly folks willing to share their experiences and make each others gardens grow stronger.

From my son's Seattle home overlooking Lake Washington,
best gardening wishes!

George Africa

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