Wednesday, April 11, 2012

There once was an agave there…

It’s a special bit of Portland history, spoke of fondly when Agave-centric people gather together… “Once there was an agave there…it was beautiful…it bloomed” next in a somber tone “Then of course it died, and it was not replaced” …some people even go further and say there were pups, and that they were removed. I even heard tell once of where one of those pups might be living.

So it’s true, Agaves can live long enough to bloom in Portland, Oregon. Above is a photo of the legendary Agave and bloom spike, taken in 2006. I first posted it back in January of 2010, and realized the other day I’d never taken pictures of the rest of the garden.
It was a grey, kind of rainy afternoon and I was planning to stop at Garden Fever just a couple of blocks up the street. Since Lila was with me we needed to do a little “preemptive” walk before our nursery visit, you know, so there wouldn’t be any surprises at the nursery (Garden Fever is a dog friendly nursery, gotta love that). So camera in hand we walked around "the Agave house"...

The plantings here are the kind that look good year round, I imagine the homeowners as people who like to have a tidy well manicured garden but are maybe not themselves gardeners. Of course I could be wrong about that.
Doesn’t this location (and the style of the home) remind you of the “Mediterranean” garden I visited a few weeks back? There the steep rocky slope was being fully utilized for my favorite spiky plants, here, not as much.
I’ve heard talk of a guerrilla-gardening style event, where an unknown group of gardeners swoop in under the cover of darkness and restore an Agave to this Agave-less garden. Who knows, it could happen...

36 comments:

  1. Did you just say there's not much to love here? Or that it's not full of plants you love? I certainly love many things about this site and garden!

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    1. Yes you are correct of course, there are a lot of fabulous things...Yuccas and Palms and of course some amazing Bamboo! I didn't mean that there wasn't a lot to love...its just that this is one of those rare locations in Portland that practically screams out for an Agave (or 10) and it makes me sad that there isn't one. Still I love this house and garden, I drive by it frequently...and thought it was time to take some pictures.

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  2. I want to live there!!! I would replace it with 10 agaves!!!!!! maybe even more!

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    1. Me too Louis. A few junipers/conifers (?) would go and the Agaves would move in!

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    2. Exactly! And a few more palms ... one is certainly not enough for me.

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  3. While not exactly a succulent paradise, I do like the landscaping here, esp. all the rocks. Living in an area that is completely flat, I envy people whose properties have slopes.

    P.S. I like the ideas of guerilla gardening. The wheels in my head are spinning...

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    1. Slopes definitely add to the possibilities don't they? When we moved in Andrew wanted to build a wall along the public sidewalk and raise our yard up a bit. I'm glad we didn't go that route and left the slope.

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  4. Apart from not replacing the agave it is a lovely garden. I particularly like the stone walls between the garage doors and the way they are planted up.

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    1. I think the stone between the garage doors might be new-ish. I don't remember it from the last time I walked around this house. And I too love the fact they've tucked some plants in.

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    2. Oh to have a slope like that to play with.

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  5. I see a lot of things to fall in love with here. I especially love the moss covered stone with the sedums tucked about.

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    1. You'd be in heaven right now in Portland, every surface seems to be covered in moss!

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  6. Holy schnikes! These people have an amazing property! The plants and the rocks make it look like a villa on a mountain.

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    1. And the tall trees behind it help to...

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  7. I remember the agave. It was just amazing when it bloomed, but I hadn't though about the fact that even the pups are gone now. I always admire their "shield" art on the slope, too...it's a piece I think might be left over from previous owners (cool thing to acquire with the house, that slope, and the garden if so, right?) It's definitely the most notable and fabulous home you see driving up Fremont.

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    1. I think you're right Jane, that the art is left from the previous owners (the Agave people). Funny it wasn't until I read your description (shield) that I realized I've always thought of it as an abstract turtle, silly when it has so many legs.

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    2. It's very turtle-esque - I think it reads like that too, with a hint of Maori or Australian influence.

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  8. Yeah...this is definitely one of "those homes". Homeowners are probably not into gardening, but whomever the landscaper was, sure did/does a great job in long term planning. Excellent garden to present......a lot to like about this space.

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    1. I think most of the garden was inherited from the previous owners, and they've done an excellent job of maintaining it.

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  9. I recently discovered your blog - love it! I live in Bend and haven't ventured up to Portland to check out the plant/garden scene much. After seeing this house and some of your other posts - I can tell I definitely need to make the trip soon!

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    1. Oh you definitely should...we have so many fabulous nurseries and just picking a part of town and driving around you're bound to discover interesting gardens...

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  10. Drat...I missed it (think I was probably living downtown at the time). I agree with the garden...some good bones...and a really unique site...but if it was mine, I'd oust a lot of the conifers ;-)

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    1. Ok so conifers ousted what would you plant? I'm curious how you would approach gardening on such a rocky outcrop...

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  11. The garden looks pretty good. Good luck to the would be guerilla gardeners! Who wouldn't want a surprise agave?

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  12. Great post; your photos are always wonderful, but I love this title. Here in DC we reminisce about Auricaria and Eucalyptus that used to be, although for the last 5 years or so the winter's have been so warm we don't seem to lose them anymore!

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    1. So that means they are getting really BIG I would imagine?

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  13. Love the garage facade with plants between the stones. Very creative idea.

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    1. Something you might replicate in your gorgeous garden?

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  14. I like the variety of plants this garden has and I love the sedum on the rock wall. You are cracking me up with the guerilla gardening. Only in PDX..love it!! Cheers, Jenni

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    1. If it ever does happen I hope to be invited along to photo document the event. Not actually participate of course...

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  15. Seems to me this house is in a Sunset "gardening on slopes" book...it looks familiar. Superb use of stone on slope, beautifully planted, all framing the house. Wow wow that is nice, Agaveless or not.

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  16. What a stunning garden, especially with all that rock work -- the steps! the vertical strip between the garage doors, studded with succulents! Very nice.

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  17. That's a fantastic garden. Love all of it.

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