Saturday @ the Fair *

The big day has finally arrived! The sky is white with cloud cover, and it’s a bit chilly out. But neither rain nor sleet nor the gloom of an Oregon day will deter the dedicated plant shopper from their task!

Two gates opened at 9 am, and in they came, pulling their wagons of all colors (mostly red).  Spirits are high as everyone makes their way to a favorite nursery or activity.  I think the thing that I like the most is all the chit chat and talking that goes one. We are all friends here, after all.

My job on this day is really much more like play than work as I walk around visiting with Fair-goers and snapping shots of what I see.  In sorting thru the photos I took today I am struck by the look of this years Fair.  There is most certainly a lot of red; red wagons and red plants.  And the green that we earn after months of rain, and a few warm days that make the trees and grasses at the fairgrounds so bright and fresh.  The cloud cover made the shadows soft, tho I would have preferred to see more sun brakes; I like the way the sunshine makes things sparkle.

And as I walked around today I found myself thinking about the past years I had spent, walking the same ground and buying from the same vendors.  Then I was just another shopper in the crowd.  My point of view has changed. After years of shopping this event I can now see both sides of the window, looking out and looking in. I walked down the aisle and into the booth where every year for countless years I have bought the coleus and impatiens for my deck pots.  This year I added a cool sage green colored fern to the flat of plants I bought.  Later in the afternoon I had a conversation with a vendor about how sales were going and if he liked his new booth space.  This was the conversation of an insider, and I enjoy that viewpoint.

Walking over to the Main Lawn vendor area, I am pleased to see so many shoppers have followed the signs and announcements to  find the booths located there.  And of course the food court!  The scent of that kettle korn was tempting me all day long, and I finally gave in late in the afternoon and bought a small bag to much on while sorting pics for this post.  Talking with shoppers is always fun, and I always seem to pick one wagon that I keep seeing as we both make our way around.

Saturday was a good day at the Fair. No rain, no wind, and plants galore.  I brought home a few too many today, and I am sure that there will be more tomorrow.

Enjoy the photos as they take you thru my walk, and don’t forget to read the captions that tell the rest of the story.

My next post will be about Sunday at the Fair.  Its usually a quieter day.  The weather man is promising some sunshine, I sure hope he is right!  After a full day at the fair, on Sunday night we take everything down and visit for a while.  It will be a long day and a late night, so the next post will be on Monday for you.

Thank you for walking thru Saturday at the Fair with me and my camera.



other posts in this series: 

Sunday @ the Spring Garden Fair*  

Setting it all up* Spring Garden Fair  

Pre post * Spring Garden Fair  



setting it all up * Spring Garden Fair

I think I like Friday the best of the Fair days.  It’s the day we begin to see the results of all our work, and its the day the plants arrive!!  Now I don’t know a single gardener that wont be excited seeing all those perfect little plants ready to find a permanent home.

My day began at 8 am in a drizzly rain. It was cold, in fact I am still pretty chilled.  I had to complete my job placing signs around the grounds, and see what other details needed my attention.  The sun came and went, it got hot then cold, wet then dry.  But we all went about our work, undaunted by the weather.  At 11 am the vendors begin to pull on to the tarmac and unload their wares.  It gets pretty crazy out there, all those trucks and trailers.  I was cruising around in one of the golf carts, finishing up most of the afternoon.  (and I have to say, my poor feet were grateful for the cart to drive around)

By  mid-afternoon the signs were all taken care of; it was time to get the camera out and take a look at the place thru my lens.  This is something I never tire of.  Each time I walk those aisles I see something different, and each year my focus changes.   Last year I remember being struck by how fresh and new everything looked. This year the textures of the leaves and the play of the light in the colors of the blooms really got my attention.  The light was constantly shifting thanks to the clouds that never stood still all day long.  And the wind was moving things around, tossing the potted trees on the ground and rustling the leaves of the perennials.  You would think that with all that wind, it would have been a loud day. But this year everyone seemed quieter, more focused on the task at hand. And just like that, the long day was coming to an end.  I was talking to some friends and tweaking some of the signs just a bit, and I noticed that most the vendors were done, and gone until the morning.  Just as the light was dropping below the rooftops, we closed the gate with everyone (mostly) ready for opening day; Saturday at 9 am.

Here are just a few of the things that me and my lens saw this afternoon. Click the first image to open the carousel of larger images.

Until tomorrow …. when I will bring you the opening day of our Fair!



other posts in this series: 

Sunday @ the Spring Garden Fair*  

Saturday @ the Fair*  

Pre post * Spring Garden Fair  

Bee’s Garden * today

If you are a member of the PNW gardening community, the name Bee Smith brings to mind two things: That particular shade of blue she loved, and her amazing Blue garden.  When Bee died this summer we lost a beautiful, amazing gardener, artist, and friend.

“Have you seen Bee’s garden? It’s amazing !”  This was my first introduction to Bee.  I was a new Master Gardener, getting to know the lay of the land.  I had recently raised my hand at the request of Rodger for someone to take over the duties of Chapter Photographer.  It was Open Garden season and I was going to dutifully take my camera and get some snapshots for the chapter.  Her garden was my unforgettable introduction to some of the most picturesque and personal gardens in this gardening world I was just beginning to explore.

You could use a lot of adjectives to describe her garden, beginning with amazing.  But after seeing, feeling and touching the garden, you walk away with a quiet regard for the woman, and her vision.  Some things that struck me about the garden and gardener who was also an artist;  this was a complete, but ever evolving body of work that she shared with anyone who would ask.  The care given, and the scope of the grounds, were impressive of course. But even more so I was impressed by knowing that the lady of 80 plus years was able to tend her garden daily, even embark on new ideas / projects that would leave a 30 something exhausted.  And I also saw the little girl in the lady.  Her playfulness, her regard for imagination, her inclusion of whimsy in her palette.  I have recently reviewed those photos I took in 2010, and will follow today’s post with some of those images to help complete the story being told.

I suppose this is the place where a writer “should” put in more details, like a bio, about Bee.  The truth is, I don’t believe that she was someone that you can limit to words in print.  I didn’t know her that well, we only spoke a few times.  But then …  I did know her, thru her garden, and thru her friends and the loving stories told about her.  And that is how I would like you to meet her, if you never had the chance, or to remember her, if you were so privileged.

Her close friend Meredith met me at her garden last week, so I could take these photos for her family, and to share with you.  I think we were both struck by the appearance of a usually tidy garden, missing her loving gardeners.  Since it is so late in the season, there is not much in the way of flowers blooming now, and the grasses are ripe and golden.  But the soul of the garden remains.  The color blue, the artwork and the amazing collection of trees and perennials.  As I walked around alone after Meredith left me, I could feel Bee’s presence  in the changing light.  The garden colors evolved as the sun moved across the sky to kiss the plants, the carefully placed art and Her collection of Blue bottles.

please join me in my walk though her garden ….

* click on the first thumbnail image to open the gallery carousel, to view the captions click  Permalink on the bottom right of the photos. this opens the photos on their own page, allowing you to scroll thru them one at a time and read the descriptions.    

A walk through Dulcy’s Garden

The family and friends of Dulcy Mahar opened her garden for a public memorial on July 23, 2011.  It would be a chance to view the garden of the beloved writer one more time, and share with those closest to her.    The day was one of those amazing sunny July days, no wind and not too hot.  I was there with around 2500 fans of her column, her garden, and just Dulcy.

The cars lined the streets, the neighborhood was decked in Pink Flamingos, and my  fellow gardeners waited patiently in line, chatting and remembering. Everyone had a favorite story from her column, and a personal reason to be there.  Doug (the wonder guy) was surrounded by visitors with questions and comments.  Her friends were also available for questions and just casual sharing.  Many, like me, had camera’s in hand as they explored her space.

My tour thru the garden was backwards, having entered from the side to avoid the crowds.  As I walked in, I was greeted by a friend of mine and her husband who also came to pay their respects.  (In all I saw a handful of friends from our Master Gardeners group. ) The mood was quiet and respectful, visitors with camera’s were allowed the courtesy of taking their time for a special shot. Because at almost every turn, there was something new to see. An unexpected garden ornament, a rare and thus very cool plant wonder over, or just a really nice view to admire.

Over the years her garden has become an amazing collection: of plants, of art, whimsical garden ornaments, and pets like her cats and the most recent pup, Ernie.   I say this because the longer I walked around, the more it became clear to me; Dulcy was a collector.  And her garden was the home to that collection.

From here I will let the photo’s I took tell the rest of the story for me.

* click on the first thumbnail image to open the gallery carousel, to view the captions click  Permalink on the bottom right of the photos. this opens the photos on their own page, allowing you to scroll thru them one at a time and read the descriptions.    

Thank you for reading my story, and walking thru the garden with me.


Just popping in * comments on the Gardens at Laurel Hedge

Last week I had the chance to take some photos at an amazing garden. Laurel Hedge is a private garden which the owners open for visits and some sales on the weekends. They also host private garden tours, which is what brought me out. The grounds are amazing, the plants to die for and the art is both whimsical and classic. I have to say, I can’t wait to make another visit !

I think my favorite part of the gardens was the way the garden revealed itself as we walked around the grounds. Pathways and lawns took us to several garden areas, from bamboo lined corridors, to classic rose gardens. Of course it was great fun to linger over a really interesting plant, or have a laugh over something unexpected! I have a few photos to share with you, then my own much smaller garden awaits …

photo comments:  the adorable pup peeking out from the table is Beatrix, their 2 year old wire haired fox terrier.  plant names are included in the title to the photos, so just hover your mouse over the images to get their names, or send me a note and I will give you more details. Website for the gardens is

if you need me, I will be in the garden *S

Spring Garden Fair or The marriage of two passions

I am many things and wear many hats in my life. My most passionate interests are my garden, and my photography.  They don’t really compete, in fact, its really a good marriage.  The past week I have been able to really combine those passions for the benefit of more than just myself and my own portfolio.

I am an Oregon Master Gardener, our Clackamas Chapter holds a wonderful event each year, The Spring Garden Fair.  The Fair hosts vendors from all over the Pacific Northwest and over 10,000 attend every year in our small town.  In fact, I have been buying my plants at this Fair since we moved here almost 20 years ago … (another post, another day )  I was at the Fairgrounds beginning on Thursday, taking photos for the event.

Thursday was just us, setting things up for the vendors arrival beginning on Friday. I like the buzz on Thursday.  The teamwork and camaraderie   are a pleasure to be a part of.  Its a day of hard work, and sometimes problem solving too.  The photos taken this day are mostly of the site and the people that participate. After a few years of photographing this event, you would think the shots look the same each year, but they really don’t.  There are new faces and improvements to document. And of course the weather is the biggest variable.  This year we were working in a mist that tuned into a drizzle that sent me home a bit soggy.

On Friday things can get a bit … exciting.  I arrived at OMG o’clock to help with setting things up for the vendors arrival.  They begin lining up pretty early, because its a long long day for them as well, unloading their stock.  It was chilly but spirits were high and the mood was light. We (the volunteers) enjoy working together, so the work is not a chore at all.  After my job setting up is complete, I am free to “play”, which in Sharon-speak means it’s time to get out the camera !  I spent the better part of the afternoon walking around taking photos of the vendors as they arrived, the Master Gardeners that were still working on fine-tuning the set-up and of course, the plants!

The plants looked so beautiful, so fresh, it was a feast for the eye! If you live here in the Pacific NW with me, you know what I am talking about. Coming from the 3rd wettest April on record, it was so nice to see the colors, the greens and yellows and reds and ….  well you get the idea !  My own garden is just now waking up, so it was so wonderful to see Hosta’s that were healthy and full, Coleus full of color, Begonia’s in bloom and Sedums with lots of new babies trailing out of the pots.  And the trees! They were all sporting fresh, unfurled leaves, just asking to be taken home and planted.  The Fair is not just about the plants either.  The artwork that these vendors offer was one of a kind and so fresh to look at. My garden has a lot of green, like many PNW gardens.  I depend on some of my garden art to punctuate the green with a sassy red or blue where its needed.  And wind chimes…..  well, there is just no such thing as too many of those, is there?  The sun finally began peeking out late in the day Friday, so the photos of the plants and the wonderful garden art were really beginning to pop.  I left the Fairgrounds eager to return the next day and begin my own shopping … and watch as the weekend would unfold.

Saturday morning is all about the customer buzz.  Arrival is early for the volunteers, time to stretch our legs, wake up and get things in place to welcome our excited crowd.  Sharing an event like this with like-minded customers is very energizing! We have volunteers that have been putting this event on almost since it’s beginning.  The customers begin lining up well before the 9 a.m. opening.  They bring their friends, neighbors and relatives that share the passion for plants.  And their Red Wagons …. to tote their treasured finds. Its really quite cool, to see all the people lined up along the street with their radio flyer wagons, all ages, types and sizes.  There are the red ones, green ones, yellow ones, big, little, and every size in between.  They are empty when the arrive, and bulging / overflowing when they leave.  I began photographing the line around 8:30, amid all the excitement, hot coffee and hats and gloves.  It was overcast and chilly, but that didn’t matter. All that matters when you are waiting is getting in and buying that first plant, from your favorite vendor.

After that first rush is over, about 45 min after the gates open, I took a breath, looked around, and knew why I was there.  The energy is real, and intoxicating.  I spent the rest of Saturday happily walking around, photographing the wagons, the customers and the plants.  I had the chance to talk to many of the vendors and the Fairgoers too.  The nice thing about the camera, it opens doors for me and starts so many conversations.  Saturday afternoon we all left, excited to see what the next day would bring, but also a bit concerned about the frost warning that the weather service posted.

Sunday morning was very chilly, it was hard to believe that we would reach the 70 degrees that they were forecasting for the day.  The excited crowd was smaller, but still very dedicated.  And Sunday host’s a lot of repeat visitors. I have a friend that comes both days to shop, one day with a client of his and the other with his dad. I ran into them several times during my walks around the grounds.  And Sunday is the day for the volunteers families to come out too. My girls and Hubby came out to see me and walk around a bit. They don’t have the garden bug as much as I do, but its nice to have the support!  And the day did indeed reach the  potential of 70 degrees. It was a lovely afternoon, if you could see above the tree line our Mt. Hood was even clearly visible.  Sunday is also the day for some serious plant purchases. I was really good this year tho, and didn’t break the bank like I usually do. My finds included a beautiful Day Breaker Hosta, a cool letter A sedum planter, a wonderful purple double Columbine, some mirrored wind chimes and a string of stainless steel balls to hang from my deck arbor.

The gates closed at 4 p.m. on our 27th Annual Spring Garden Fair.  The remaining work of taking things down took a few hours, but went well since it was such a nice afternoon.  We were tired, but pleased and excited with the work that had been done. And I am sure I am not the only one already looking forward to next years event.

My work didn’t end when I came home. Naturally, I had plants to take care of. I also had over 1000 photos to sort thru and post on our new Facebook Page.  I love sorting thru the images of an event. It brings back memories of the conversations, the connections and the stories of the day.  You can see these pictures on our Facebook page Spring Garden Fair on Facebook .  I have some posted on our Clackamas County Master Gardeners Webpage as well: Spring Garden Fair 2011 

Now its time to sit back and enjoy my garden and the new plants / art I have added this year.  If you need me, I will be in the garden*

* click on the first thumbnail image to open the gallery carousel, to view the captions click  Permalink on the bottom right of the photos. this opens the photos on their own page, allowing you to scroll thru them one at a time and read the descriptions.