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Chilean Fire Bush - a hidden jewel in our garden

It is heartbreaking that this beauty is hidden in our garden but at least the hummingbirds have found it. Hidden because it is planted behind a 7 feet tall rose. I planted it there because I was under the impression that it would become a tree. It can indeed become a tree and there is one growing about a mile from our house that is around 20 feet tall.  In our garden, it is taking its sweet time and is only 4 feet tall after being planted seven years ago (2017). It did not begin to bloom until its fifth year and this is the first year flowering has been so profuse. Whenever I think about this plant, I always remember what the Gosslers said in their book "The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs". I quote it here: "Since this plant comes from southern Chile, we begin with a word of warning: it will not grow anywhere in the United States outside western Washington, Oregon and northern California. People wanting to grow E. coccineum in the eastern part of the country will

A trip to Leavenworth, Washington

Our friends Paul and Cindy are here for the holidays and one of the places they wanted to visit was Leavenworth, Washington. They organized a two-day stay beginning on the day after Christmas. Michael, who has anxiety issues about traveling in the mountains, stayed at home. 

Although we've been here for almost five years (hard to believe), I'm sad to report that I have only ventured north in the state of Washington one time and that was a very brief visit to Seattle. I had heard of Leavenworth, a little town modeled after a Bavarian village. It is located in eastern Washington and is about a 4 1/2 hour drive from our house in Vancouver.

The weather has been fair where we live and the temperature has only dropped below freezing a few times. As you venture into the mountains, however, the weather changes dramatically. We watched the temperature drop 10 degrees, into the mid 20s, in less than 10 minutes. Also, snow began to appear.


At last we arrived in the little town of Leavenworth, population almost 2,000, in the 2010 census. The city lies in a valley surrounded by steep mountains. The town was once a logging town but when the railroad moved out, the town struggled to stay afoot. In the 1960s, the town leaders came up with an idea borrowed from a similar northern California town to change it into an alpine village.

Every building in town must reflect the architecture -

The town has many festivals throughout the year to bring in tourists. The Christmas light display is a major draw, as we discovered.

Our hotel - the Bavarian Ritz - at night 

Lots of little shops and places to shop, although many of the stores seemed to be carrying the same thing.


If you don't like throngs of people and kids running everywhere, I would advise against Leavenworth. It reminded me of Gatlinburg in the Smokey Mountains. Yes, it is beautiful but the over-commercialization and crowds of people turned me off. Especially at night, I would compare it to New York City streets, although I've never been to New York City.

I did love the little park that was situated along the creek on the backside of town. 

 Our hotel is the one with the red roff at the top of the hill -

On the way home, we took a different route to avoid the traffic on I-5 and I got to see some of the eastern side of Washington which is totally different in weather and terrain. These photos in were taken at a rest stop in Yakima. Quite a difference!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Like Michael, I would have anxiety issues about traveling in the mountains in the winter as well. I dislike snow, especially driving in it. We visited Leavenworth in May several years ago, and it was a unique experience. I don't remember it being particularly crowded, but you were there during the holidays. I hope you get to see more of the Seattle/Tacoma area soon, maybe a trip north for the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival in February?

  2. I can imagine that if there wasn't such a crowd it would be an enchanting little village. Must be all the shops were owned by one person and they bought from the same vendor for all. Too bad. They should try different vendors. Oh well I imagine it was nice getting out of routine for a couple of days. Too bad Michael can't take the mountains. The other side is quite a different drive. Cheers.

  3. Yes, the difference between eastern and western Oregon and Washington is a little mind-boggling. And then to have the amazing Colombia River Gorge between them! Though I'm glad to be away from the traffic of Portland, I do miss the geographical diversity of Oregon. Glad you got to do a little exploring!

  4. Its nice to get away sometimes, and if visiting friends are the motivating factor, so be it. I've experienced Leavenworth in summer, many years ago. The scenery is spectacular, no matter the season. Although I being around snow, I do love the snow pictures you shared.


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