Friday, June 5, 2015


Jenkins Estate
On every trip to the northwest, we always plan on stopping in Portland so that we can visit Powell's bookstore to exchange our used books for more used books.  This time we carried in 4 heavy bags of books and carried out about the same amount we carried in.  While we were in the downtown Powell's, there was a fun run in the streets outside.  Getting out of town was a nightmare of one-way streets, blocked off streets, crazy runners in goofy getups milling around, and the general hubbub of a Saturday night on the town.  
Rhododendron Flowers
It was a lot easier when we went to the Powell's in Beaverton where we found many more books to cart back to the groaning rv.   While we were in the Beaverton area, we also indulged our second favorite thing to do in Portland, which is visit gardens.  The Jenkins Estate is not far from Beaverton and
95 year old elm trees
was actually considered to be in the countryside when purchased by Belle and her husband.  Belle was the daughter of a shipping magnate in Portland and loved horses, so the new home included stables and riding paths along with English garden areas, rhododendron gardens, a pond garden, meadows, and an Elm drive (which is 95 years old now).  

Kerr Home, Garden of the Bishop's Close
The following couple of days were pouring rain, off and on, which sort of put a damper on any further exploration of gardens, but luckily we had any number of books to choose from and read.  But on the third day of rain, we decided to do as the Portlanders do, which is go out there anyway.  So we grabbed a couple of umbrellas and went to visit Elk Rock, the Garden of the Bishop's Close.  
Garden of the Bishop's Close
This was originally the home (and business) of a Scottish immigrant who specialized in importing grain back in 1888.  The home sits on a bluff, which is itself on a steep hillside, overlooking the Willamette River.  
Level area up on the hillside
Although Kerr was an avid gardener, he hired the Olmsted Brothers of Massachusetts to design the garden and this is one of only two Olmsted gardens which are open to the public.  The design incorporated small staircases up and down the steep hillside so that access to any portion of the hillside was easy and because of the benches here and there, you could sit and look at the river or at East Portland across the river (if the rain hadn't drenched the benches, of course).  
Looking across the Willamette River to East Portland
The gardens are a combination of the plants Kerr collected on his world travels and one of the finest collections of Northwest native trees and plants.  It is all combined in a cultivated English style garden which Kerr worked on for 60 years before passing away at the age of 95.
Viewing Kerr's home from the front lawn and garden.
 His daughters donated the house and gardens to the Episcopal Diocese of Portland with the stipulation that the gardens themselves be always open to the public.  This was a favorite garden, of all we visited during this stay.  Every little nook, bend, and flower bed was filled with delight.  I am sure that in the sunshine, it would be even more stunning.  
Carrot Cake Extraordinaire 
But after this excursion, we needed to have some lunch and get dry.  And you can't eat lunch without having dessert, can you?  A really decadent carrot cake with coconut and chocolate included was hard to split between us, especially when Allan took more than his share.

On our last day in the area, we returned to two gardens which are on our list of favorites.  
Leach Botanical Garden
The first is the Leach Botanical Garden which is a collection of plants by John and Lilla Leach who traveled all over the northwest collecting plants for their botanical garden.  Lilla was a botanist and I have a soft spot in my heart for her as I was a botanist once myself and I know how difficult it can be traveling into backcountry to gather (or identify, in my case) specimens.  Although I used an old dodge truck provided by the forest service, Lilla and John used mules.   This is a small garden, placed above and below the home, which is along a creek.  
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
We were able to easily walk the paths within an hour, take lots of photos, and be on our way to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens across the street from Reed College.   The really great thing about this garden is all the walking paths along the ponds which have many different kinds of ducks, geese, and other water birds.  
Wood Duck
The water comes from a spring that produces 6000 gallons a minute and there are many water features including little waterfalls and creeks.  This is the only garden we have visited on this trip where we had to pay admission, but for $4 each, it was well worth it.  I got about 5000 steps on my fitbit walking this garden.  

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