Garden of Lior Holtzman (Sasa Garden)


My seasonal job at the nursery has ended for the year and my retail schedule has not kicked in yet so I've had some extra time on my hands. I haven't been to an HPSO Open Garden since spring so I decided to do that this past Saturday. When I opened my pamphlet for the tour schedule, I saw that it was the last day for open gardens this year and only one garden was open! The garden was in Washougal which is a long trek, albeit a scenic one, and best of all, it meant no driving in or around Portland.


The journey was a beautiful one and I should kick myself for not pulling over and getting some shots of a breathtaking view of the Columbia River Gorge along the way. (Note to self - do that on a later date!). I ventured onward, along narrow, winding roads with views of the river on my right and gigantic boulders on my left. Turn off the main road, drive a short distance and turn down a gravel driveway in the middle of a dense forest and I have arrived.


The description in the Open Gardens pamphlet described this as a garden in transition and as the owner, Lior Holtzman explained, the five-acre garden previously featured over 500 hostas. It is now being converted into a bamboo education center. The name "Sasa" refers to a plant genus in the Poaceae family which includes grasses and bamboos. 

gave me the grand tour and showed me every bamboo on the property (I think there were 18 different kinds but I could be wrong here). More bamboos were being ordered that very evening to go in the greenhouse for next year's planting. The amount of work already done on the property is impressive and it involved removing a significant amount of blackberry vines as well as diseased trees and the draining of ponds. Also, deep trenches have to be dug around the bamboo areas to keep them in check. Lots of work - my muscles were aching just listening.


I should have taken notes because I learned many things about bamboo, a plant that I confess I have always been afraid of. We have two in the garden that were already here - one that I hope is a clumping type and the other, a black bamboo, in a whiskey barrel. 


I saw some lovely specimens, like the one above, and each one had an impressive sign with information about the name and ultimate size dimensions.


This is a dwarf variety that only grows to a few feet. 


This one is the only variety that is eaten by Panda bears. Again, I don't know the name. I am a terrible journalist.

I do know that this one is Black Bamboo, a very aggressive one.

There were other plants to see in the garden besides bamboo. There were several eucalyptus trees and the very one (E. pauciflora Snow Gum) that we have in our garden.

Isn't it lovely? I am not sure what is going on with mine. It certainly doesn't have the mannered look of this one.

Different plant but same variety

A newly planted eucalyptus

The previous owners had installed this labyrinth - how cool is this?

Fall colors on Redbud (Cercis) and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)

More fall beauty -



Mahonia 'Soft Caress'

Rhododendron 'PJM' with ferns

A stunning Japanese maple

A view from the deck with the labyrinth below and new bamboo grove to the left. Too bad it was so cloudy - I am sure the sky view is spectacular on a clear day.

A view of the shade garden next to the house with Tetrapanax (Rice Paper Plant) on the left.

Lagerstroemia 'Dyanmite' and an unidentified plant that I want!


Thank you Lior for the excellent and educational tour. I will be looking forward to future developments!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I am a little jaded about bamboo. Those running varieties scare me. I have a neighbor that planted one and it is going crazy. I hope it doesn't find my garden. That black bamboo is gorgeous. This garden you toured is nice. I love the labyrinth. The ghostly tree is pretty too. I am glad you got to tour one last garden before winter set in.

  2. Maybe Variegated New Zealand Flax?

  3. Beautiful fall colors in this garden. The overcast sky only made the photographs more beautiful. I'm sure the view off that balcony is stunning! I thought my Mahonia 'Soft Caress' is crazy for starting to bloom now, but I guess it ain't so crazy after all.


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