Garden Review Through
the Seasons — Spring
Jeanne DeBenedetti Keyes
Even though we have officially ushered in summer, I wanted to continue my spring review of several garden spaces around downtown Portland.
I took pictures of these gardens three different times during the month of May. In Portland, early May is the height of spring. All of the trees and most of the perennials, except for later developing plants such as Cannas or Dahlias have developed mature leaves by that time.
Even though I walk by them at least once a week, I found it difficult to remember exactly where I was standing the first time I photographed the gardens in January. Particularly at the Riverplace Marina, so, the positioning of the photograph may not be exact, but it’s close enough to get a sense of how the plants developed through the season.
Interestingly, comparing the photographs taken over time, several of the spaces look very similar in both winter and late spring. In the Tom McCall Waterfront Park garden round, (photo below right) the evergreen plants of magnolia, Acorus gramineus and Trachycarpus fortunei look essentially the same in the dead of winter and late spring. There is just a bit more foliage and the Acorus has fresh new leaves in the spring photograph. I enjoy the variety of leaf types and textures, and this combination of plants can be depended on to provide interest in the toughest season.
Portland World Trade Center
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
In the garden on the North side of the Portland World Trade Center, (photo above left) the plants are lush and full, as expected for a late spring garden. The large leaves of this deciduous Magnolia contrast the flowing shape of the Hakonechloa macra. The ferns in the foreground provide a colorful foil to all of the various shades of green. I wonder if this Autumn fern is Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ as the new fronds' bright orange-pink color lasts well into the winter. These ferns did not actually start leafing out until late May. I was surprised to see the plants in this garden expand in size and fullness through the month. I had expected them to be mature by early May. It will be interesting to see what summer brings.
Riverplace Marina garden
Japanese Arbor in Spring
The Riverplace Marina garden (photo above left) is a very different garden from the others. Color and repetition is the name of the game here. In the sunny areas, many of the old stalwart plants such as Nandina domesticata ‘Gulf Stream’, grasses and large shrub roses are planted in rows or large swaths. These provide a backdrop to seasonal perennials such as Japanese iris (Iris ensata) and Pacific Coast iris (Iris tenax and other species). The first photograph above shows a shady area which sports a few lovely natives such as the large, palm leaved Darmera peltata, and ferny foliage of Western bleeding heart, Dicentra formosa among tried and true shade cultivars such as Hellebore species.
Lastly, my garden in late May (photo above right). I can just barely make out the palmate leaves of Fatsia Japonica that is much more prominent in the winter photos. The corn lily, Veratrum californicum, in the foreground, and background hosta provide contrast to the spear-like foliage of the tall bearded iris (Iris germanica) and other more delicately leaved plants. This photograph not only highlights my arbor, it displays the many different leaf types and textures there. No wonder this is my favorite part of my garden!