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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Excellent Crop of Decorative Growth

Conifer aficionados often refer to themselves as coneheads, so a post that features them has to start with a snippet from the movie Coneheads (many lines of which my son memorized as a teen).

Scene from the movie 'Coneheads"

Recently I decided to run away from home yet again, this time all the way to Oregon, to The Oregon Garden, an 80-acre botanical garden and resort in Silverton, Oregon, which required an overnight stay. On the way I stopped at Joy Creek Nursery to visit Tamara, blogger at Chickadee Gardens, who works there. While I was there she introduced me to Maurice, one of the owners, who recommended a morning stroll through the conifer garden.

It was a great idea!

When I first got there it was still incredibly hot and I was  sweaty and uncomfortable, so I relaxed for a while in my air-conditioned room. Eventually I ventured out to the restaurant for supper, and after that, into the garden, right around sunset, when the temperatures had finally started to go down a bit.

The sun setting over the garden -- pretty but also pretty smoky, the result of wildfires

A bit dark and mysterious, but I ventured in anyway

I know little about conifers, but I was pretty sure I recognized the one on the right as a deodara cedar

This graceful, wispy creature on the left with its Hakone grass tutu intrigued me, but there was no sign of a tag

As I ventured around a curve, I saw the shape in the photo below against the darkening sky, and at first I thought it was a cloud-pruned conifer. Then, something clicked in my head and I recognized it as an Agave bloom spike. I actually quickened my pace despite the heat to see if I was correct, and I was. I took a couple of bad photos and made my way back to my room.

In the morning right after breakfast, while it was still relatively cool (in the 70s), I headed back out to see the Agave and the conifer garden in the morning light.

Don't ask me what an Agave is doing in the entrance to the conifer garden -- perhaps it's just the sunniest spot with the best drainage

The tag says Agave havardiana

As tall as many of the surrounding trees

Swarming with bees

One last look at the Agave spike

A look back up the slope toward the main resort building

The deodar cedar again

Its lowest branches droop over the berm and rocks

I found myself drawn to the texture contrasts, between conifers, and between conifers and rocks and various perennials.

With Sedum spathulifolium

Pinus thunbergii 'Shirome janome'

Very drought and heat-stressed, I realized, after Googling it and doing an image search

In the daylight I still couldn't find a tag for the wispy conifer with the pendulous branches

The conifer so heavily laden with cones is Abies koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' and it's enormous!

I have a 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' in my garden, but it's nowhere near this big. I don't think I realized it would ever get this big. According to the history of the garden on the website, the conifer garden was created in 2000, so I can't help wondering how big it was when it was planted. That's only 18 years ago.

Microbiota decussata

More great textures...

Picea abies 'Cobra'

The lower branches snake over the ground, and are interplanted (probably not deliberately) with horsetail

The lower branches droop to the ground

The tip also droops

A nice bench for Beldar and Prymatt


  1. It's always interesting to see another garden photographer's take on a place I have also recently visited. I do love the textures in that conifer garden.

  2. The conifer garden at the Oregon Garden is certainly impressive, and I'm not even a conifer lover! It's always been one of my favorite parts of the garden. Yes, the agaves might have something to do with that.

    The photo with the horsetail "ground cover" was a mind bender!

  3. Interesting views of the conifer garden. Maybe the roots of the conifers help keep the soil drier in the winter which would make the agave happy. The bloom spike looks good with the evergreens as a background. Just looked at that wispy, pendulous tree at Vassey a few days ago and thought it was pretty cool. Can't remember it's name though.

  4. Conifers are great plants, although not all that common down my way and sadly the stone pines in the area are rapidly succumbing to a beetle-related blight. I've always coveted the Abies laden with cones but I wouldn't mistreat one by attempting to grow it here.

  5. This is where we stayed when a bunch of us took the PNW by storm in '14, including visiting Loree's garden, Windcliff, Linda Cochran's garden, Little & Lewis, Far Reaches, Dragonfly -- so many others. Wonderful photos!

  6. Absolutely yummy for a conifer lover like me. I just planted a dwarf version of Silberlocke. Figure i may still have to prune it.

  7. I LOVE conifers. If I had a few acres for a garden, I'd fill them with conifers, big and small, and add a few Japanese maples for contrast. And rocks. You got to have rocks. There is a good looking conifer garden is at the arboretum of South Seattle College, if you are ever in the neighborhood.
    Your pictures of the garden at dusk are gorgeous and unusual.

  8. "Coneheads and Conifers" would be a great name for a post. I might have to plant some (Conifers, not coneheads), just so I can take advantage of it. Not a big fan of Conifers in the garden otherwise, though your photos make a persuasive argument.


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