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Digital Dirt    October 23, 2001

A Visit to Bella Madrona

Mr. Beasley
Bella Madrona's Geof Beasley
My buddy and proud to say, one of the Northwest's best gardeners

I spent a recent cold, wet Sunday afternoon at the one of the few places in Portland where you can forget the weather: Bella Madrona, the garden of Geof Beasley and Jim Sampson (Jim takes no credit; for that matter, neither does Geof. He prefers to think of himself as a medium for the Garden Gods). Both the garden and the gardener have been collaborating for 20 years, and the maturity of each shows.

Clematis and Grapes
Vitis & Clematis
An exquisite tumble of vines over an aging corrugated roof
Cotinus
Cotinus coggygria
Green-leaved smokebush turns colors too psychedelic to be true

I can't say fall is this garden's prettiest face because there's too much to look at all the time. As I walked through this day, I grabbed shots of some of the garden's more whorish fall moments, though on the whole, it's not an ostentatious place. Instead, it's a garden of subtle enchantment, rich with exquisite plant "accidents". I'd credit Geof's plantsmanship, but he'd just deny it. What the hell, I'll credit him anyway...

Leycesteria
Hydrangea paniculata
Six-foot high plants with big hair lining either side of the garden path
Leycesteria
A Beasley Original
Leycesteria to the right (rhymes with mice hysteria), Polygonatum to the left and hydrangea as filler
This continually changing, five-acre canvas is destined to become one of the permanent gems of the greater Portland area. If you live nearby, make a note for next year: Bella Madrona will be featured during the Garden Conservancy Open Days in April and August. Also, Geof & Jim often open the garden to the public for fundraisers. Some of their favorite organizations include the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and Cascade AIDS Project, the Berry Botanic Garden and Basic Rights Oregon.

Red garden
The Red Garden
I've noticed that even on the coldest, lousiest days, the Red Garden smolders with passion and possibilities


             Ketzel

 

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