things and places for homes and gardens

Leach Botanical Garden

Tuesday 21 October 2008 - Filed under Gardens + Plants

The Leach Botanical Garden is just 20 minutes away from Portland’s city center, but I had never been out there before this weekend, when I was scouting the location for a potential wedding venue for friends in New York. The property had been a couple’s home and garden for almost 40 years, and now it’s a public park where you can wander the trails, watch birds, and buy a few plants at the gift shop from sweet white haired ladies.

This tree, right at the entrance to the house, had the most beautiful moss covered trunk.

Tree at the entrance of the Leach Botanical Garden

This fountain, surrounded by pots of ferns, is tucked behind the house, I think it’s right outside what had been the dining room when this was a home.


This is the space where weddings are held, surrounded by white blooming hydrangeas under a canopy of huge trees.

Main outdoor event space

I didn’t venture down this particular path, but it looks like it would lead to the secret garden.

Over the railing

I was hoping there’d be a katsura, and there was. I wanted to see if you truly can smell burnt sugar when they’re losing their leaves, and it’s confirmed, katsuras smell like caramel corn.

Katsura in October

OK, and another picture of this tree. I was just taken with it.


I especially loved this combination of monochromatic contrasting textures along one of the trails.

Plant combination on a trail

I’m not sure what this is, but I love the way the branches wander.

Wandering branches of unknown tree or shrub

Great texture on the leaves of this unknown srub.

Unknown shrub

I love finding interesting new plants I’ve never heard of, especially when they’re labelled so I can look out for them in the future. It makes me feel like an explorer. This was Goodyera oblongifolia (rattlesnake plantain).

Goodyera oblongifolia (rattlesnake plantain)

Walking the trails of a botanical garden is the closest I ever get to actual hiking. It made me feel outdoorsy, but I could still do it wearing heels. Low heeled boots, to be specific. I’m not completely impractical.

Trees along the path

This beauty was unfortunately not labelled.

Unknown groundcover

There were many of these slightly wild looking shrubs, with bright red berries. Even in mid-October, their foliage is fresh and bright.

Shrub with red berries

I was proud of myself finding a weekend activity that was free and didn’t involve shopping, but then the plant sale up there got me. I ended up picking up this big gorgeous semi-evergreen fern with extra hairy stems. The reddish orangish berry in there belongs to a little daphne I got for $8, but really, I saved money, because I’ve had my eye on a larger one at the nursery for $40, and was pretty sure I needed to buy it. The yellow leaves belong to a GIANT Solomon’s Seal. It claims it can get to 6′. I need to see that. And the bright orange leaves, looking like all the beautiful fall trees I’d been seeing around over the weekend, belong to Enkianthus campanulatus. It says it gets chartreuse flowers. You can’t see them in the photo, but I also got a hardy cyclamen, another epimedium, and an asarum. They were around $4, that was too good of a bargain to pass up. Still haven’t planted them, though.

Plants purchased from the leach botanical garden

2008-10-21  »  megan

Talkback x 5

  1. Joy
    21 October 2008 @ 10:22 am

    What a stunning setting for a wedding (or any occasion ?) .. you took gorgeous pictures of these wonderful plants and trees.
    It would be soul refreshing, to just quietly walk this area by one’s self. The hermit in me is coming out .. I don’t want to share such an awesome place like this with anyone until I have had my fill ?
    AND …. this business of the Katsura tree and its carmel-corn scent .. I am DESPERATE to find space to have this Autumn treasure !
    Now to convince my hubby ? LOL

  2. Crissy
    21 October 2008 @ 1:30 pm

    You know how when you do relaxation and visualization and you imagine yourself in a place that is really peaceful?

    That’s my place.

    How’d you get pictures of it? I’ve tried but my camera doesn’t work in there.

  3. Patricia
    21 October 2008 @ 6:11 pm

    I really want some carmel corn–except I’m kind of full from eating the Halloween candy.

  4. Karen
    22 October 2008 @ 3:34 pm

    Looks like a really cool garden to visit – another one on my list for next time I make it down to Portland. Gotta love those sweet white-haired lady volunteers – they’re all over the place at the Washington Arboretum up here too. Wonder who will replace them? Us, maybe, when we’re old?

  5. megan
    24 October 2008 @ 9:54 am

    Joy – the good news is they decided it’s too small for their wedding, so I won’t have to share it any time soon. I’m sure in the summer it gets busy, but this time of year, I had the place to myself.
    Crissy – I’m sure ken has a lens that works for that
    Patricia – I got some carmel corn at the pumpkin patch. Delicious.
    Karen – probably. That’s what we’ll do once our own gardens are mature and we’re on fixed retirement income and can’t keep buying new stuff. I’m sort of not looking forward to that. But I do like the thought of having all day long to just putter in the garden.