Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rose City

In early July, I had the chance to leave hell and visit Portland, Oregon. I'm not even sure I was actually invited before I started packing my bag. Of course, Portland ended up having its way with me. I left on June 30; our flight delayed by thunderstorms in Austin. The next day Portland had its highest temps of the year--low 90s--while Austin was chilling in lower 90s.

"Are you serious?!" I yelled at the city. I had traveled half way across the country in search of cooler weather only to find myself hotter than I would have been had I stayed put.

Of course, the next day the temps in Austin were back at hellacious levels (tm Annie in Austin), and the temps in Portland were, well, less warm. If I'd wanted to, I could have even worn a jacket in the morning and in the evening. I didn't because I wanted to appreciate the novelty of being cold outside in July, as opposed to paying $8 to be cold inside a movie theater.

I'd only been to Portland briefly before so it was really nice to be there for several days. A couple of things about the city surprised me.

1) the food. Good god. These people know how to eat well and pretty cheaply. A lot of it inadvertently involved a lot of pork: pork belly, bacon, bacon, sausage, and more bacon. If you're planning a trip there, let me know, and I'll send you my personal list of recommendations.

2) Portland is the rose city. This really shouldn't have surprised me. The one place we did visit in our short trip five years was the International Rose Test Garden in Forest Park. But I thought the garden was a special place where people with magical rose-growing gifts that I do not have practiced their mystical art. Instead, everyone in Portland can grow a rose. Every yard, nook, and cranny had at least two varieties, healthy and in bloom. Roses grew around the city like weeds. (Or maybe they grew like purslane, Carol?)
We saw lots of roses at the Test Garden on our first visit years ago in late August, but the blooms were nothing like we saw this trip in early July.

Pink roses,yellow roses,
orange roses,
red roses, white roses, lavender roses, (the last time I saw a lavender rose was in a Buenos Aires rose garden)I took pictures of the hundreds more roses, but I think you get the picture. The roses began to blur together.Amidst all these exuberant blooms, two areas of the garden stood out because of their quiet beauty. Who knew that I would find a beige rose so beguiling?And then over in one shady area of the garden, I enjoyed the cool colors and textures of these hostas and ferns. I also enjoyed the shade, because even though Portland was 15 degrees cooler than Austin, 93 is still hot.(And now the poor folks in Portland are having 100-degree days! I'm sorry, I really am. I had no intention of bringing Austin's weather with me. I was supposed to bring Portland's weather back to Austin, but I guess I got my spells mixed up.)

Outside the entrance to the park I saw a couple of unusual things: this sign,
and these roses covering the fencing around some tennis courts.
Roses covered the fences around the courts but failed to muffle the curses of the older man playing doubles.

But the strangest thing is about this picture has nothing to do with rabid rose growth. The most unusual aspect is that there isn't a Subaru to be seen in the parking lot.

Seriously, people, that's funny.


  1. Why is that funny?

    "Roses covered the fences around the courts but failed to muffle the curses of the older man playing doubles."

    Now *that's* funny!

    Lovely roses! I haven't been to Portland in ages. Such a great town.

  2. I had a friend who went to Portland a few years ago and then sent me dozens of rose pictures. It sounds like a beautiful place, "where roses grow like purslane".

    Now, we had a very cool July, 2nd coolest in history for Indianapolis, so don't come here and mix up your spells!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  3. Did you make it to the famously beautiful Japanese garden while you were there, Vertie?

  4. Not a Subaru but also not a pick up truck. Now that's unbelievable.

  5. Pretty, pretty! That looks like a fun trip. Now let's all cross our fingers for El Nino to make Austin feel like Portland this Fall.

  6. Don't get the Subaru joke either, Vertie...enlighten me please!

    We've been to Seattle many times, but only passed by Portland on the train back to Chicago. The roses are beautiful, but for some reason when I think of that part of Oregon it's hybrid lilies that come to mind -aren't the lilies supposed to be fabulous, too? And now, you've made sure that Portland will call to mind Pork!!

    It sure was weird to sit inside air-conditioned Austin, crabbing about the 105°F outside while my kids in Seattle had 99°F inside their houses. They don't even have ceiling fans. Even in Illinois every room had ceiling fans!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. I thought they issue a Suburu to anyone who establishes residence in Oregon! When did they change the law?

  8. But did you have a bacon doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut while you were there in Portland? While it sounds utterly nasty to me, I have several bacon-loving friends who swear by those doughnuts. I love Portland -- I visited it in my pre-garden-blog days and still took lots of pictures of the gorgeous roses, trees, and other beautiful bits of nature!

  9. Can you yell at our weather too? I'm glad it cooled down for you. My nightmare is someday I'll get to go to the Northwest and it'll be hot! Hope you removed the curse. Fab pictures, too.

  10. The northwest has been spectacular this year. We're building (which we hope will have a pretty nice plant database) from the grass roots, meaning we've got to go shoot plants ourselves rather than pay someone else to do it. My partners (the Sharples) went out to shoot some dahlias. And they brought back pictures of both irises and dahlias that were absolutely stunning.

    Anyway, thanks for the blog post. We can definitely relate on a hill overlooking what once was Lake Travis.