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Monday, March 12, 2012

Winter Walk-Off in Brooklyn

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Les over at A Tidewater Garden is hosting his Winter Walk-Off Challenge again this year...which I somehow missed last year...oops! The challenge is to walk around your neighborhood and document what's going on...without showing any pics of your own garden.

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Right as we crossed the street I noticed that our Neighbors who planted a pair of Parrotia at the same time as us (through Friends of Trees) have foliage emerging already! When we got home later, I saw ours did too! I have to admit, I think their trees look a bit better than ours, they have such wonderful, open branching structure.

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The neighborhood cat, Boots (who is pretty much our cat now) decided he had to accompany us on our walk, even though I'm pretty sure he's never ventured this far from our house before (judging from his alarmed cries when he lost sight of us a few times)!

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Spring is in full swing here in Portland, as evidenced by this display of cheery bulbs. I always love this little display, even though once it's over, there isn't much going on in this spot. Someones needs to add a few plants for the rest of the year. Perhaps I'll sprinkle a few seeds here next time I walk by.

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Grape Hyacinth

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Some people obviously prefer to NOT spend much time working on their yard, hence the yard o' mulch seen here.

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Portland spring=lots of moss!At first glance, I thought this was just an ordinary fence...

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As we got closer, however, I noticed the entire upper portion was strung with crazy, rusty metal cutouts! Some had a vaguely nautical theme...

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...while the rest were musical in nature. I did wonder what the story was behind them. I noticed the house behind the fence was being totally gutted.

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This is one of my favorite houses in our area...just LOVE the green paint, the fence, everything! Their yard looks good all the time...actually , my only complaint is that this is pretty much what it always looks like, everyday, forever and ever. It's certainly nice for me as a passer-by, but I think it'd get a little old after a while if I lived there. I DO wonder what their back yard might look like ;-)

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They have one of the biggest Eucalyptus trees I've seen around Portland...so pretty.

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Another large house a block or so from us...I can't imagine what it'd be like to have such a big house...egads! I always enjoy walking past their house, especially in summer.

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Willow BloomsEuphorbia blooms forming

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The people who live in this house had this stone wall installed soon after we moved to the neighborhood...I always want to ask how much it cost them...but I'm pretty sure it would make me cry.

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Most of the plants that the house above are just emerging, including the amazing leaves on this Spirea...love that color!

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ManzanitaFruit Tree Lessons
One of the things I realized while on the walk was how much I didn't know about my neighborhood! I was also amazed at how many people were out and about. I wondered what was going on in the photo above, turns out it was some sort of class about growing fruit trees...very cool!

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Portland's mild climate means that Rosemary can grow to truly shrub-like proportions! These were about as tall as I am! Granted, they tend to look a bit ratty by the end of winter, they usually recover once spring hits.

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In addition to the fabulous fragrance, the Rosemary are sporting their wonderful blue flowers right now.

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This house seemed to be in the middle of an extensive renovation.I was so envious of these stone steps...wouldn't this look about a bajillion times nicer than our cement ones...for sure!

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These two houses are some have some of my favorite yards in our 'Hood. They have a really nice mix of plants and are pretty sympathetic to each other.

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Both of them also leave up their plants for the winter, making it pleasant and interesting for such a long time. They actually still haven't cut things down, including this sedum. Now I kind of miss mine.

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I kept seeing this plant around town, which I'm assuming is some sort of Euprhorbia....but not sure...does anyone know for certain?I actually almost backed into this cactus while taking photos...yikes!

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I find a lot of Euphorbias to be a little dull during summer, but in spring, they are fantastic!

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There were a few little Calendulas already (or maybe still) blooming along this charming brick path.

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I loved the stately Euphorbia at the far end of the brick path...really like all the grasses left standing.

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Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima) makes a great backdrop for spring bulbs, like this Daffodil.

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Emerging Peony foliage is always so striking!

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I really liked this subtle piece of garden decor...especially the mossy, fluted column.

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Sempervivum still showing their sultry winter colors.

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I'm a terrible person...I have no idea what these purple flowers are.

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I think almost every garden in our neighborhood has at least a few Bergenia.

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Paperbark Maple - so very beautiful.I just love the play of colors and textures in this garden...so very striking.

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A wide shot of the above.

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Believe it or not, this concrete wall is only a few years old!

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If there's one thing we have plenty of, it's fiesty squirrels...this one performs some acrobatics to get at some bird seed.

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He did not seem particularly thrilled by my attention.

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One surprise on our walk was a planting of Tree Peonies...which I hardly ever see outside of the Chinese Garden.

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A friendly Tabby decided to follow us for a few blocks, begging for some love.

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I always think this house has a nicely-done yard/garden...stuffed to the gills with plants!

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Pieris is one of those plants I totally don't even notice until it blooms...and these folks have one of the nicest ones I've seen.

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While fairly quiet at the moment, in a few weeks, the floral show will start...and will last for months.

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Peaking around the corner, they have a variety of Hellebores in bloom now.

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I don't know for sure what shrubs this was on...but love these seed pods!

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Boots couldn't quite help himself...had to explore a bit.

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These folks also have a fairly large Eucalyptus in their parking strip. I couldn't smell it on this day, but on warm summer days, I can catch the scent from a few feet away.

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I loved the bronze foliage of these Libertia in their parking strip.

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The prehistoric flower buds are forming on another neighbor's Magnolia. These are the same people who have a huge fig tree in their parking strip that I have to walk past/under on my way home from my bus stop...when it starts dropping its fruit it is the biggest, stinkiest mess EVER!

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Another plant I think almost everyone in our 'Hood has in their yard is Daphne...which is great for me, because I get to enjoy the fragrance without having to plant it in my own garden ;-)

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I kinda love this charming little house. It's funny, it seems like all the houses in our area are either modest little houses (like ours) or enormous ones (like the house just previous to this).

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Another house a few blocks from us has some of the most personality of any garden in our neighborhood.

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They have lots of handmade ornaments and structures...as well as lots of objects placed about.

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I do like how they used these pseudo-fences to divide their space up...they do create the illusion of moving from one space to another.

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Even though a lot of yards don't have "gardens" in them, they might have one or two interesting plants...like this crazy, twisty willow.

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A surprise was this house, which I've never seen before. They seemed to have really taken the Asian theme and run with it.

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I loved this rusty metal sphere (which was pretty huge) surrounded by the grasses...so simple...I would never have this much restraint!

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Again, really interesting and well-done...I don't know if I would have added all the details to the house as well...but hey, more power to them!

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I kind of fell in love with this house the second I saw it...so cute...and love the porch!

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It also had my favorite yard of all the houses we visited! Looking back, I realized I loved it even though most of the plants were still dormant!

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It was these metal-edged, gravel paths that really captured my imagination. I loved how they curved and intersected. I think the reason I really liked it is that it proved a blank slate for my imagination to run wild. In my mind, it was filled with all MY favorite plants...I'll have to come back in a few weeks/months and see what it actually looks like once it's filled in. Who knows, I could be VERY disappointed!

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I leave you with a parting shot of my new dream-house and garden. Oh, what I couldn't do with all that SPACE!

69 comments:

  1. It is uncanny how much your neighborhood looks like mine. The streets are laid out on a grid, most of the houses are arts and craft style built in the 1910's and 20's, few of the houses are identical and there is a mix of the very large and the much smaller. Your neighborhood has a more adventurous plant palette though. Your photography is fantastic, but I think my favorite shot is the one with Boots by the puddle following along. I can't help you with the purple flower ID, but I think the Euphorbia is E. lathyris which is sold (truly or not) as a mole repellant.

    Thank you very much for participating in my Winter Walk-Off.

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    1. That's so crazy, Les! We seem to have kindred neighborhoods, a continent apart, eh! That's one of the best things about Portland...there is such a wealth of gardens to look at...probably why it's a bad idea for me to drive...I do tend to get distracted by the gardens ;-) Thanks for the ID!

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  2. Love your neighborhood Scott, what a wonderful walk. I can't even remember half of what I wanted to comment on. Love the white house with the porch.
    That has to be the biggest Pieris I have ever seen. What a beauty. wow.
    My friend here in SC had a cat show up at her house. After a number of flyers with the cat's picture, and no luck finding its owner, they decided they needed to take it to the SPCA. (they have two large dogs) The SPCA is about 15 miles away from her place. The day after she took "Emmett" to the SPCA, he showed up at her door again. Long story short (er), it was a neighbor's cat who was told their cat was hit by a car, so they didn't think this cat was theirs. Emmett kept coming back to my friend's house and so finally they talked to the neighbor and Emmett is theirs now....and loves the two large labs. Emmett looks just like Boots. Love cats!

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    1. Glad you came along for the ride, Janet! I know...that Pieris is a knockout! OMG...what a cute story...so glad the cat found a good home...they really do seem, at times, to choose their owners, don't they?

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  3. I loved this. Take pictures next time you go...now I'm interested to see how they look in full bloom!

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    1. Thanks, Jess...I'm totally going to do a follow-up in a bit, maybe even make it an ongoing series!

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  4. Lovely to see the Brooklyn neighborhood through your gardener's eyes, Scott! Although I have walked through it many times, I certainly didn't see all the details you appreciated via your comments and photos. The housing stock is wonderful (as are so many of our beloved close-in Portland neighborhoods) and you clearly have some serious gardener neighbors!

    I'm also inspired by your favorite blank slate house's garden spaces and by its metal edging. I was just telling the Mulch Man today that I need to do something like that in our garden to create paths that stay neat, and separate from the planting beds. Thank you for the tour, the sweet kitties, and the inspiration!

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    1. Aren't we so lucky here in PDX..we seem to be a city of gardeners! I agree with you on the edging...it's exactly what I want along the side of our house too...I'm so sick of the constant battle with the lawn encroaching on the garden...good luck in your battle as well ;-)

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  5. Lovely photos as usual, Scott! What an interesting neighborhood for a stroll, I don't have that since I'm in a rural 2 acre-lot place. I'm in love with that lovely apricot-leaved Spirea photo, about 1/4 of the way down, kind of my favorite color, sunset. A little above I was puzzling over the "Willow Blooms" "Euphorbias" until I figured out the captions were switched. I grow your mystery Euphorbia- lathyrus, Gopher Purge, which I am allowing to grow again to try to deter the voles, in spite of it causing a blistering skin reaction. It gets very tall and the seed capsules rupture violently to fling seeds widely. The trailing mystery plant with the purple flowers looks to me like a Brassica, they have 4-petaled flowers, as in Aubrieta deltoidea, Rock Cress, one of those plants I have killed over the years. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Hannah...of course, I'm super-envious of your rural plot...that's my dream! I love that Spirea too...they are amazing at this time of year (and again in the fall). OMG...you're so right about the switched photos...oops! Thanks for the plant ID...I feel like I probably should have tried a little harder to figure those out!

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  6. Wow, I want to go to your neighborhood for a walk! Great pictures. Boots is one cool cat.

    So many favorites, but I'd have to pick the painted cottage for its color. The squirrel is hilarious.

    I'm also amazed at the variety of plants that grow there.

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    1. Hey Shirley, you are welcome anytime ;-) Yeah, we are blessed here in Portland...we have such an amazing palette of plants to choose from...it's somewhat overwhelming at times...but it's a GOOD problem ;-)

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  7. What a great walk around your neighborhood! Thanks for taking us with you and for taking such wonderful pictures. Boots is such a cutie. The houses and gardens where you live are so interesting. That pink Pieris is just gorgeous. I'd love to see what you could do with that big dream garden too!

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    1. Thanks for coming along, Alison! Believe it or not (and even though I LOVE my neighborhood) there are other neighborhoods in Portland that would knock your socks off! I'll have to make a point of doing another of these in other areas. Lets see what we can all do about getting me that house with the big garden, eh ;-)

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  8. PS You're a great gardener, by the way, we're all green with envy over your lovely Persicarias and grasses, and all your lovely photographs.

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    1. Awww...thanks, Hannah! What would I do without my Grasses and Persicarias...I'd be lost, for sure!

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  9. Fascinating neighborhood. I really enjoyed the tour. Lots of ideas!

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    1. Thanks, James...I agree...such good food for thought!

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  10. I've never really spent any time over in your neck of the woods, this was super fun to join you on your walk. I was thinking exactly what you said, the houses are either huge, or modest...no in between! Les is spot on with his Euphorbia identification and I love that you decided your favorite garden was your fav because you were seeing it full of your plant palette, perfect! Oh and I've never liked the pink blooming Pieris before, the one you pictured however is spectacular!

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    1. Glad you got to visit (and for real a bit later)! I agree...I have never cared for Pieris until we moved here...and I still don't think I'd plant one unless it turned out EXACTLY like this one...it's definitely the exception to the rule.

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  11. It is so wonderful to walk with you, you really chose them all with contrasts from each other. You reminded me that i haven't yet seen a flowering rosemary in this hot country, although my search said they just need full sun all day. I wonder what they need which we cannot provide naturally. And your cat exactly looks like ours except that ours doesn't have a necklace. But they love to follow us along nearby our area too, together with our dogs.

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    1. That's so peculiar, Andrea...I wonder what it is that's keeping them from blooming. For us, they aren't the MOST reliable bloomers...a cold snap or other odd weather can really knock them back.

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  12. Scott I absolutely love your neighborhood. The homes are wonderful. The gardens on most look like they will be wonderful also. I've never seen a Pieris in tree form. It's gorgeous! Now that last photo of Boots looks professional. What a beautiful shot of him.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks, Cher...so glad you enjoyed the stroll...isn't Boots a cutie-pie ;-)

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  13. Beautiful neighborhood. The houses are so charming. The Euphorbia ID is correct and I agree that the purple flowered plant is probably an Aubrieta. It could also be a purple Arabis (though white is the more common color). Both are beautiful, long-blooming, rock garden plants that are super easy to grow from seed.

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    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed your trip to my 'hood ;-) I wonder if I could covertly collect seed from those plants...hmmm.

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  14. Great walk with all of those homes just oozing with character. It makes me miss my old prairie style home. You have a lot more coming up right now than we do but with our seventy degree weather this weak we may catch up.

    Eileen

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    1. It's a pretty cute little part of town, with a nice bit of charm, for sure. We had an early start to spring, but now seem to be stuck in time...with cool, rainy weather for the past few weeks...sigh!

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  15. Wow, Really enjoyed your Tour! Reminds me of Vancouver in the Spring. What a Charming Neighbourhood you live in!

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    1. Thanks...I bet we're very similar...our climates are pretty close :-)

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  16. Holy crap, I didn't know Pieris ever got that big.

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  17. You have a lovely neighborhood with some beautiful houses. The first one that you said you liked (with the brown fence) desperately needs a rose or something growing on that fence! I have to comment on the pieris as well. I've never seen one grown like that or that large. Very beautiful.

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    1. Isn't the Pieris amazing, really about the pinnacle of beauty for that particular plant, certainly. I agree about the fence...it really could use some "greening" up ;-)

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  18. Oh, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed that. I love all the "vintage" homes in your neighborhood and their gardens! I would love to see you continue to photograph them to see their progress through the year! Fabulous photography!
    Wondering if you have ever been to Monticello? http://monticelloantiques.blogspot.com/
    Their spring garden sale is so much fun!!
    Heather

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    1. Such a good idea...I definitely think I'll do a few follow-ups this year, I'm kind of intrigued by them as well! I've never heard of Monticello...I'll have to look that up!

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  19. Scott, you really need to do this walk about thing more often. You live in such a cool neighborhood with lot's of interesting homes and gardens. I'm in love with the last house too, such clean lines, can't wait till you swing by there again in full spring to see what will be sprouting. The house that had the mini fences was very cute. I would be so tempted to grow sweet peas or some vine on those charming fences. Such a fun post! I'll be tempted to join in the winter walk off when I move into West Linn. Trust me NO ONE wants to see homes and gardens in Rainier, Oregon. Cheers, Jenni

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    1. You are so right, Jenni...this little excursion made me realize how much I've been missing in my own neighborhood! I'm with you...that bare fence would be covered with some sort of vine, lickety-split! I hoep you do join in after the move...maybe even before winter, a "welcome-to" of sorts!

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  20. Hey Scott if that is a competition I'd definitely vote for you! Walking around the 'hood with you guys and Boots has been so exciting and funny!

    I think the best yard is the one with that rusty sphere! I fall in love with that sphere, I must dare daddy if he can build a similar one... I've been looking for a terracotta sphere for so long and I can't find it, I found a stone one but it was sooo expensive!
    Another beautiful house was the one under renovation, that dry wall, the steps, the house... very charming.
    Speaking of walls, the mossed plaster one was very nice too, I hope my pool will be mossy as well soon... :)

    Oh! and what about the gingerman's tiny house? make this post again in a few months I am so curious!

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    1. Yay! Thanks for the vote, Alberto ;-) I agree about the sphere...I would love to get my hands on one like that...I'm tempted to go back and ask them where they got it...then again, where would I put it! I'll definitely do a follow-up post...I'm just as curious as everyone else :-)

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  21. Scott I enjoyed this walk through your neighborhood! You got a lot of great shots. I like your neighborhood. A lot of interesting architecture, yard art and plants. I've never seen a Pieris in tree form like that, it makes for a beautiful and unusual specimen.

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  22. What a great neighborhood you live in. I would be walking daily just to see what's new in all the gardens.

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    1. Thanks, Zoey...I really need to get out there more, that's for certain :-)

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  23. A really interesting walk about your neighbourhood - such a difference to our rural lanes - and full of so many different houses and gardens.

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    1. Thanks...you're so right, we live fairly close in...at this point, can only dream of a house in the country...sigh :-)

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  24. What a great walkabout! My silly cats follow me down the street too -- I have to lock them up in the house before I leave. Lots of interesting fences and porches in your 'hood. And the moss! I feel soo hydrated looking at your photos...

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    1. Hahahaha...yeah, I usually try to trick him by distracting him with something in the backyard before I dash off down the street...but he was just too fast for us that day ;-) Oh yeah, moss is something we have plenty of at this time of year!

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  25. Ok that was so very cool. I really enjoyed that. Seeing so many new things I haven't heard of and all the houses- how fun!!! We love going out of town and driving around neighborhoods and looking at yards/ fences/ stonework etc... the exact things you were focusing on. So cute Boots went along with you hahaha Cracks me up. That Papebark Maple and Pieris are also two new ones for me that were very neat. So many neat houses - loved taking the tour!!!

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    1. Glad to know I'm not alone in scoping out other houses...it's such a great way to find new ideas...I'm amazed at the different ways that people find to solve the same problems...amazing!

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  26. The cement wall dripping moss is a reason why I wish moss would grow here. Lovely photography as always!

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    1. Oh yeah...I know that feeling...it's strange to think that I'm used to seeing moss everywhere now, when I first moved here I noticed it everywhere!

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  27. OMG! These images make me so homesick for my old 'hood! (I have never really gotten over leaving PDX, can you tell? :)) Love that you showed so many homes too, not just flora. Although some of the flora was fantastic. Same here, not a fan of pink Pieris but I've never see one quite like that. Also, like Libretia, not familiar with it. I think the little plant you said you didn't know is a type of Aubretia. A beautiful walk Scott, thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Back in the day I used to walk around Laurelhurst and pick out my "dream home" imagining what I would do to the outside space. So fun!

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    1. I read you loud and clear, Andrea...I don't know if I could ever leave Portland! Laurelhurst is one of my fave 'hoods as well...I can only DREAM of being able to afford a house there, however!!!

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  28. Wow! You have a great eye for detail. And an interesting neighborhood to boot. And you are right, that is the best looking Pieris I've ever seen.

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  29. What an awesome neighborhood teeming with creativity! Love the way older neighborhoods have a charm that is lost in our mega development tan and beige tract house world. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I totally agree, you really have to go to older neighborhoods if you want the charm and "personality" in the houses.

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  30. That walk around is a great idea. You give a really clear view of your neighborhood. Reminds me how much I like Portland. I plant a lot of pieris, and I hope at least one some day turns out like that big one.

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    1. Thanks...although I have to give credit to Les for spurring me to get out there! I hope your Pieris gets that beautiful...so awesome!

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  31. What a fabulous idea. Walk around the neighborhood and photograph everyone else's gardens. I love it. Now, where to start...? Boots. What a sweet cat. I love that you're friendly to him and have pretty much adopted the poor fellow. Sweet. I love the shot of your partner and him on the sidewalk with the pink trees in the background. I love the other cat closeup too. The corner "rock" garden with daffs and muscari is wonderful. I agree that it's a terrible waste of prime real estate not to have something summery planted there. The Eucalyptus in that front garden is amazing. So many of them died a few years ago when the temps dipped below their hardiness Zone but this one looks fabulous. I also love that last white house. The porch is nice but it would look better with a banister, wouldn't it? What I really like is the curvy gable above and the french door entrance. Ooh the possibilities in that garden. The bones are definitely there aren't they? This was pure pleasure Scott. Thanks for taking us along. It's definitely spring in your neighborhood.

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    1. Isn't Boots the sweetest ever...he's so great, and we're happy to take him in :-) I remember even last winter a few Eucalyptus in our neighborhood were totally killed to the ground. Most of the people chose to replace them with more suitable trees...still, it was sad to see them go. I agree...that porch is screaming for a banister or railing of some sort.

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  32. A blogger in San Francisco- http://back40feet.blogspot.com/
    does the same kind of neighborhood photo walk and I wish more urban people would join in because they are so much fun to look at, especially for us country folk.
    I love your walk! You take wonderful photos and notice all the little interesting details. Please do repeat it in a month or two.
    Cynthia

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    1. How cool...I'm heading over there now to check it out. It would be great to get more people out and about...especially since you get to actually MEET people in your 'Hood you might not get to ordinarily.

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  33. What a fantastic post. How I would love to see neighborhood tours of all my favorite garden bloggers. Your neighborhood definitely blows mine away!

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    1. Thanks! I know what you mean, it's so cool to see the areas that others are gardening in, gives you so much more context, doesn't it?

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  34. Viewing your walk about was an entirely satisfying experience.. Besides gardening I have a passion for Arts and Crafts/American Bungalow design. Pretty much everything here in Alberta is dormant and/or under snow. Next year I will join in as we will be living in a Zone 8 area. Do your neighbours read your blog?

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  35. Wow - your Brooklyn is gorgeous!
    -- Georgia (local ecologist)

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  36. Wow - your Brooklyn is gorgeous!
    - Georgia (local ecologist)

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  37. What a cool neighborhood you live in! I love all those old houses and there are so many pretty gardens! Whenever we are in Portland we drive around the neighborhoods to look at the houses and garden. Here in the burbs there's not nearly that much excitement in peoples yards, kinda boring for the most part.

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