Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Imitating Cheryl Strayed

"How often have you peed today?"

In the book Wild: From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail, which chronicles Cheryl Strayed's months-long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon/Washington border, Cheryl is asked this question by another hiker during a particularly brutally hot day. It surprises her to realize that every molecule of water which has exited her body in the last 24 hours was through sweat.

I know how she felt.

I wasn't on a mountain hike, and I wasn't carrying a monstrously huge backpack, but I just returned from a hellishly hot weekend in Portland (coincidentally, where Chery Strayed lives), where I attended the Hardy Plant Study Weekend, listened to lectures and toured some pretty fabulous gardens. And sweated. A lot. Peed too, but just a little.

I thought I'd share some images from a handful of those gardens.

The Garden of Bob Hyland (owner of Hyland Garden Design and the shop Contained Exuberance in Portland) and Andrew Beckman

I liked this garden, way more than I thought I would.

From the booklet description: "Planted containers cover the front deck, spill out of the greenhouse, and punctuate the gardens."

I thought this Hover Dish container, perfectly color-matched, was just brilliant

"Beds and borders reflect our naturalistic, exuberant, and patterned wild garden style."

"We use ornamental grasses, sedges, and rushes with great abandon to knit together plantings."

It was a hot but breezy day, making the Mexican feather grasses dance and sway

The Garden of Lance and Julie Wright

This is another garden I've only recently become aware of, and I just loved many things about it, but especially the hellstrip.

From the garden description: "My fascination with foliage textures helps determine a constantly evolving planet palette. 'Edgy' and tough performers play together. If they last, it's because they behave, are beautiful, and fit into the overall design."

I've only seen Agaves this big in California, they must be perfectly sited to make it through winter and grow so big

The Garden of Barbara Blossom Ashmun

You all know how partial I am to daylilies, right?

From the booklet description: "On an acre of island beds and mixed borders I do my best to create beautiful vignettes out of the impossible array of plants that I keep falling for."

From Floramagoria, the Garden of Craig Quirk and Larry Neill

From the booklet: "The back garden is where the crazy begins."

"We have a collection of interesting garden art that is on the more playful side and hidden throughout the garden."

Blog followers may remember I attended the Hardy Plant Study Weekend last summer as well, which took place here in Washington, hosted by the Northwest Perennial Alliance, was based in Bellevue and showcased many fabulous local gardens. I blogged about it here.

This year, it took place in Portland, and gave me the chance to see some of the gardens I missed by having to bow out of the Garden Bloggers Fling last summer. The weekend kicked off on Friday morning with various workshops (I didn't sign up for any), followed by garden tours. On Saturday and Sunday, the mornings were taken up by a lineup of speakers, followed by more garden tours. On Saturday, there was a soiree at a local plant wholesaler called Blooming Junction, which I signed up for, but attended for less than an hour. I was hot, tired, hungry and cranky, also hot (did I mention I was hot? It was hot). As a pessimistic introvert, I didn't relish making small talk in the punishing heat with people I didn't know. I was reminded of Nigel's Dad's definition of a party: "Standing when you would rather be sitting, drinking something you don't want, talking to someone you don't know on a subject about which you don't care." Reminded also of one of Nigel's Dad's favorite quotes, from General Montgomery: "Any damn fool can be uncomfortable," I left in my air-conditioned car and headed back to my air-conditioned hotel room, where Nigel was waiting to treat me to dinner in an air-conditioned restaurant.

Summer has barely begun. There is more hot weather ahead.

Keep on peeing.


  1. You leave me drooling over the gardens you visited, and laughing at your comment about the definition of parties. As another introvert, and perhaps pessimistic to boot, I can certainly identify with that!
    The heat came home with us from our travels in the south, but except for Sunday, the humidity has been low. We've been working in the garden in the mornings, keeping things watered and trimmed, because our NPA Open Garden is July 11th. I hope you can come.

  2. I'm glad you took Nigel's Dad's advice and went where it was cool, but only after you got those stunning photos at the last place. I was just thinking today how I love orange in a garden. I am going to paint my wooden stakes. Soon.

  3. You got many great photos!!! I kept alternating between regretting that I didn't sign up for this, and feeling thankful that I didn't sign up for this.

    Lance's garden benefits from being in one of the warmest parts of the city, and for the Agaves, baking next to the sidewalk and street and being on a slope (a couple of them). I'm glad you liked Bob Hyland's garden. Patricia and I visited last August when he opened it for the HPSO and were very impressed. That was also a miserably hot day but at least it was in August, rather than June!

  4. Wow...fab photos Alison. Thank you for sharing, I would love to see Bob and Lance's gardens especially someday.

  5. Oh Alison you are a girl after my own heart. I could feel your consternation as you described your feelings on the heat and the social gathering. Ugh! How nice that Nigel, bless his heart and cooler air were waiting for you.

    My sister and I were thinking about attending this but I couldn't justify the money. And of course last January when I read about it, I never imagined a heat wave ruining it.

    The garden photos are lovely. Thank you for taking them despite the heat misery. As a fellow introvert, someday we have to meet. Cheers.

  6. PS... Nice intro with the comparison to Strayed's book. Very well written.

  7. Your trip through Hades yielded some terrific photos...allowing the rest of us to enjoy the beauty without having to suffer as you did. That Nigel! He knows how to treat a girl!

  8. Floramagoria was one of my favorite Portland gardens. I loved their playful spirit and the bold use of color.

  9. All the gardens you visited were impressive but I love Floramagoria every time I see photos of it. I enjoyed Ashmun's quote about creating beautiful vignettes out of the impossible array of plants she falls for too - I may adopt that as my gardening goal. I'm sorry your weekend was marred by horrid hot weather. I was appalled when I heard how hot the PNW was going to get last weekend - it was hotter than here and that was bad enough. I hope it cools down soon.

  10. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I'm glad you endured the heat long enough to capture these photos. I especially enjoyed all the "crazy" in the back yard!

  11. Beautiful gardens. I love the pictures you took and you made me remember how much I love Floramagoria.

  12. When I saw the berkheya at Floramagoria (lavender daisies at end of agave bed) last year I don't think it was in bloom yet, but what a difference a year makes. No fun touring gardens in that kind of weather.

  13. Shouldn't it be Floramaglorious? Yes, that's a more accurate name.

    Thank you for braving the heat enough to show us those three wonderful gardens. I'm glad you then beat it back to air conditioned comfort, which is where I'm sitting right now at 10:45 pm. It's still 80F outside. YUCK!

    Stay cool!

  14. Thanks for sharing some of the gardens on the tour, especially Floramagoria, one of my faves! Watching the temperatures in Portland over the weekend, I was happy that I decided not to go as I would have been hot, tired, and cranky as well. (Not a pretty sight.)

  15. Wow, you found some super gardens to show us. Fantastic foliage in some of them and super flowers in the others, thank you for taking us with you!


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.