Two Open Gardens - Alan Bertin and Richard Hoffman

We have been trying to catch an open garden or two every Sunday and it has been lots of fun. A few weeks ago, Alan Bertin's garden was open and what a treat it is. Alan began his garden in Portland the same year we did (4 years ago) and he his sunny hillside garden is filled with over 600 unique plants.

Alan is a New Orleans native and he has a blog appropriately titled "The Mardi Gras Gardener". A major portion of Alan's garden is the huge 15 x 50 ft. hellstrip that is packed with an array of blooms from perennials, shrubs and trees and stunning grasses. Alan even gardens on an adjoining slope of an apartment building next door. Now that is my kind of gardener!

Alan's back garden is a tranquil retreat with lush borders surrounding a grassy circle.

We were there at the worst time of time to get good photos and most of mine did not turn out well which is a bummer. Alan's garden will be open again on July 7th and August 4th. It is well worth another visit!

Fabiana imbricata 'Violacea' (False Heath)

A bloom underneath the leaves of Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' 

Last weekend we drove to Gladstone to visit the garden of Richard and Patricia Hoffman.

The small front garden is devoted to raised beds where mainly vegetables and herbs are grown not only for the food but also to attract pollinators. In addition to the vegetables and herbs, rounding a corner brings other unexpected treasures, like roses, pomegranate trees and this Opium Poppy (Breadseed Poppy) -

Since space is limited, Richard does a lot of vertical gardening and I was impressed with the strong trellises that his daughter and son-in-law had built.

Being Southern boys, our ears perked up at the mention of collards but neither of us had ever heard of a perennial tree collard. I forget how long Richard said that he had been growing this but the plants were amazing. We were thrilled to get a bag of them to take home with us.

A pathway runs alongside the house leading to the back garden. The path is lined with shady plant lovers on one side and sunny, dry plants on the opposite side.

The back garden is a shady oasis. Large fruit trees (a five year old almond tree was quite impressive) and a magnolia provide shade. Most of the plantings in the Hoffman's garden are in containers, even plants like Rosa glauca and this Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) which was blooming -

A nice collection of clematis, including one of my favorites Clematis durandii (below), were blooming in a sunny spot in the center of the garden.

The Hoffman's garden is enhanced with works of local artists, colored bottles, found objects and water features.

We so enjoyed our visit and a big thanks to the Hoffman's who opened their garden at 9am so we could beat the traffic!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Two jewels. I like the idea of a round spot of lawn. Hmmmmmmmmmmm

  2. Thanks for the link to The Mardis Gras Gardener-a new to me PNW blog. This garden looks well worth a visit.

  3. The spring bloggers plant swap was at Alan's fabulous garden this year. Seeing it was quite a treat. My garden is almost ten years old and it's nowhere near as nice.


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