Last week, on a cold, sunny day, I drove about an hour south of Portland to see the Conifer Garden at The Oregon Garden in the town of Silverton. It was interesting getting out of the big city and seeing some of the Oregon countryside and the smaller towns. In many ways, it was reminiscent of the Alabama countryside with one exception - I have never seen so many nurseries, farms and orchards. An immense blueberry farm was impressive and I wished I had stopped and taken some photos. During this eternity of waiting for the house sale to close, I have immersed myself in books about gardening here in the Pacific Northwest. (Note: The end is in sight. We should have the keys next week, it would have been today had it not been for our local Alabama bank being unyielding in wiring our funds - a story that I will not go into).
But back to the gardening books. I have learned a lot already. I know now that soil ammendment is a big deal (most of the soils in this area are clay). It also been stressed that one should be careful about planting large trees - in other words, don't do it - unless you have a very large property. For one thing, large trees will rob you of precious light for growing plants and secondly, they will more than likely interfere on your neighbor's property. A third thing to consider is that you do not want to block light from entering your house unless you prefer a dark, gloomy atmosphere. One positive aspect about creating a new garden after gardening for twenty-plus years in a former location is that you can learn from your previous mistakes. I knew if I wanted to grow many of the magnificent plants out here, I would have to avoid large trees. Just settle on a select few ornamental trees and dwarf conifers. I think evergreen plants and conifers are important elements of the landscape. They help establish the "bones" of the garden and they provide winter interest. The space in front of our future house is a large blank space of lawn, with the exception of a few foundation plants and a Japanese maple. The plan that is percolating in my mind calls for a fence to enclose the entire front lawn and borders along the perimeter of it. I want to grow a variety of shrubs, perennials, vines and conifers. I am not definite on a color scheme yet but my initial plan is for a bold color palette - maybe reds, oranges, blue and purple. When it comes to conifers, there are thousands to choose from here, and I need guidance. At first I thought it would be difficult to find dwarf conifers. Ha! There are a ton of them. This is what lead me to The Oregon Garden, which has a renown collection. I got a lot of ideas here. Now I know it will be hard to just choose a few.