Monday 2nd July
We have a lot to do today but hey, why hurry? Waking up to a view of large barges making their way up the Colombia river (second largest in the USA) and a house empty of our hosts Mike and Mary, we eat, pack and set off for Blooming Nursery, about an hour south west of Portland.
The weather is warm and sunny and the cherries ($1.95 lb) and nectarines sweet and juicy. The instructions for finding the nursery are on the pda which is dammed hard to read in the bright light but we make it to Blooming after having to ask the locals directions - fewer than 10 times. Blooming is a reasonable sized nursery employing 70 staff - in the slow season. This grows to almost 100 when things get busy. Nohemi, the really cheerful production manager is delighted to see us and we embark on a tour of the place. We don't actually see all of the 47 acres but what we do see is impressive. Blooming is a perennial plant nursery and has a vast area of weedless, beautifully laid out stock plant beds that just happened to be flowering. It looked magnificient!
I speak with the propagation manager about .... stuff..... and admire the greenhouses which are definitely SOTA. All houses have concrete floors and some have flood watering systems that deliver heated water and nutrients to plants in pots and trays - without having to water from above. Everything is automated.
I seem to remember getting stuck in present tense Micky Spillane type writing last time we went away - must be something to do with travel. I digress.
We meet with the owner, Grace and leave with the impression that these people love our delphiniums and are keen to promote them more. They're already a good customer and the visit was very good for building on this blah di blah di blah, ra, ra. Blooming is a very good operation.
Ok, can't hang around. Off we go, south down the Willamatte valley to the tiny town of Cottage Grove - about a four hour drive. Lunch is nice, the cherries still sweet and juicy and the weather getting hotter. We arrive at Territorial Seeds at 4:30 pm and meet Josh, the manager there. Immediately there is a bonus - we find some seed sieves that we can't get in NZ. Territorial want to add our delph to their catalogue, that's ok by me.
The real purpose of venturing this far south is to visit Alice Doyle of Log House Plants. She organised the meeting with Territorial and greeted us with a hug. Alice, a lifelong hippie, is a great plants person and runs a nursery that sells throughout the pacific north west. She is a great marketer too and really knows how to move her plants. Alice greeted us like a long lost friend and her hospitality was fantastic. If you're reading this Alice, thanks, you did us proud!
That night we stayed at a resort hotel specialising, of course, in gardens, and arranged for us, of course, by Alice.
Tuesday 3rd July
I'll keep this one short. Ha! Mmm, these cherries are nice but sure make the keyboard sticky.
Breakfast and a meeting with Cindy, the head gardener. Cindy is responsible for developing the resort garden into a place that will attract droves of garden fanatics for conferences and starry-eyed, well-heeled couples for weddings. Needless to say, this garden needs our delphiniums. So may the other dozen or so hotels in the chain. Cindy does a great job. Her budget is....unlimited. I'd like one of those!
Stephen and I enjoy a two hour tour of the garden with Cindy in the sun. Janice checks the email in the shade.
Off to Loghouse Plants at 11 am and another tour. As I said, the reception at Loghouse was terrific. Alice's niece, Anna, married to Marcos (the Greek) is a sculptor. Before showing us her current work in progress she prepares a most delicious Greek lunch. This is seriously nice. We then went over to her studio to see her work. This is seriously good. Very good. It's unfinished. I'm allowed a photograph. I'm lucky, as usual. Anna trained at the top classic sculpting school in Italy. Is a very good a sculptor, no?
Tour of Loghouse Plants. 2,100 plant varieties. 26 greenhouses. Hot day.
Alice tells us we must visit Iron Mountain and Sisters on the way back. Iron mountain has alpine meadows. Sisters has quilts. We say goodbye at 4:30 pm.
The drive to Iron Mountain takes a couple of hours or so and we decide to go straight to Sisters, on the east side of the Cascade mountain range. We drive the long way as the mountain pass is closed. Night in Motel.
Wednesday July 4th (something significant with that date, can't remember what)
Stephen and I set off for Iron Mountain to see plants. Janice stays in town to see quilts. The alpine meadows are breathtaking and we see fields of wild delphiniums with masses of other stuff too. We take lots of photographs and spend nothing. We return to Sisters at 11 am. Janice says the quilts are great, the town teriffic, takes a few photographs and spends ...something. We set off for Mt Vernon and Stephen's wife Barb. The cherries are sweet and juicy and it's now 91DegF. I drive. We survive. Eight hours later we arrive.
Another great welcome from Barb in a lovely new house with a garden created by the two of them and a low wall of rocks hauled from miles away after being carted across a stream the width of the Whanganui river. We have steak, a wonderful artichoke dip, long peppers and the cherries were sweet and juicy. Stephen has driven us over 1000 miles in three days and been just great. Barb has welcomed and fed us fantastic. This is wonderful hospitality. And then, the knockout blow! The whole town put on a huge display of fireworks for us, about 3 hours worth. I thought this a bit over the top not realising how many folk Stephen had told about our visit. What a wonderful welcome.
Wednesday 5th July
Write a blog without spell check or pictures.