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An Autumnal Peek At A Great American Garden

The campaign promises are over; now to deliver the sublime, as we throw open the gates of a private Portland garden on the headiest day of American democracy we are ever likely to know.

orange, yellow and pink fall foliage

Welcome to the Platt Garden, the realized vision of one of the city's late great gardeners, Jane Platt. This three-acre specimen-rich paradise passed from wife to husband (the gentlemanly John Platt is now 96) and then to son. David Platt has been tending the landscape's botanical treasures for almost a decade, often collaborating with his daughter, Kailla Platt. Full disclosure: all three generations of Platts are dear and cherished friends. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

toggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

The Platt Garden owes a great deal of its design beauty and plant palette to another of Portland's best places for plant nerds, The Gardens of Elk Rock at Bishop's Close. The plant passions of that garden's founder, Peter Kerr — who scored plants regularly from the East Coast and England — have resulted in a number of tree and shrub species that are the oldest of their kind in the PNW. Kerr had two daughters, both of whom gardened. The younger one was named Jane.

purple fall crocus

Fall-blooming crocus come in dozens of species and rarely do I see them with the same punch and presence as their chubbier spring-blooming cousins. For that reason, I found this small stand in the Platt rock garden a stand-out; I'll have to get back to you whether it's C. medius, C. cartwrightianus or for all I know C. spp. (the last of which translates as 'some species but who the hell knows which one'). photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

toggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

One more teaser pix before the tour continues tomorrow. It's an image you've likely seen in one form or another before, because when it comes to pure sensuality, few things can beat a stewartia shedding its bark.

A close-up of stewartia bark

Behold the exfoliating surface of Stewartia monadelpha. photo credit: Ketzel Levine hide caption

toggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine



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