Rare Plant Open House—and More Garden Inspiration

Portland's offering once-in-a-lifetime plant viewing and some fantastic garden shopping this weekend

By Kate Bryant May 17, 2013

Alicanterea imperialis, a tropical bromeliad that is rarely seen in flower outside the tropics. See it at Rare Plant Research's Open House this weekend!

Garden tours, events and plant sales are ramping up in the Portland area as spring begins its slow, sweet unraveling. Take some time this weekend to enjoy the perfect planting weather and draw inspiration from some gardens that are rarely open to the public.

Rare Plant Research Annual Open House

Rare Plant Research is one of the Willamette Valley’s most tantalizing ornamental plant nurseries, with all variety of tropical and tender plants including succulents, perennials, unusual bulbs, bananas, and more.

There’s an added incentive to visit this year’s RPR Open House: one of the world’s largest bromeliads (pineapple relative) will be flowering—a rare event outside the tropics. Alcanterea imperialis, a native to the mountains around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be on display in its full glory. The plant grows five to six feet wide and, after growing for about 20 years, sends up an eight to 10-foot tall flower stalk. After flowering, the plant dies. See this spectacular plant in bloom this weekend only!

WHAT: Rare Plant Research’s Annual Open House
WHEN: Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19, 2013, 10 am to 4 pm
WHERE: 11900 S. Criteser Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045
COST: free event but bring your checkbook - for plants, wine and food

Sundrops Eastside Garden Tour

This tour includes a scenic drive along the historic Columbia River Gorge Highway and a series of beautiful, established gardens including the Hutson, Shelman and Fortune gardens; Dancing Roots organic farm; a peaceful Franciscan convent set in front of a waterfall; McMenamin’s Edgefield garden; and more.

WHAT: “Sundrops” Eastside Garden Tour
WHEN: Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19, 2013, 10 am to 4 pm
WHERE: Troutdale, Oregon 97060
COST: $20 (children free). Purchase tickets on line on pick them up in advance – see website for locations. Purchase tickets and pick up tour maps the day of the tour at the Harlow House – 726 East Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale

Tomatomania at Dennis' 7 Dees

Learn all about tomatoes, particularly those luscious heirloom tomatoes that we all crave, from heirloom tomato expert Steve Goto. In addition to talking about the cultivation and care of tomatoes in our tomato-challenged climate, he’ll answer questions. A large selection of heirloom tomato varieties will also be available. And while the weather is still marginal for planting tomatoes outdoors, Goto will offer tips on how to know when to plant them out and how to maximize the tomato growing season.

WHAT: Tomatomania
WHEN: Saturday May 18, 2013 (see times below)
WHERE: Dennis’ 7 Dees SE Portland (10 am to 12 noon) and Lake Oswego (2 to 4 pm)
COST: free

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