Monday, July 7, 2014
Bishop's Close One of the Portland, Oregon Metro Area's Best Horticultural Gardens
Bishop's Close: One of the Portland, Oregon Metro Area's Best Horticultural Gardens Unknown to Most Residents and Visitors Lex Loeb Contributor Network . Bishop's Close was originally the Bishops residence for the Episcopalian Church of Portland, Oregon. The original stately picturesque home is still standing and is one of the centerpieces of the gardens. The gardens are terraced on various levels leading to shear cliffs that plunge straight down in places several hundred feet down into the Willamette River. Some of the terraces are natural areas. Most of the ground below the garden soil appears to be solid basalt giving the gardens a unique character. The garden corresponds to the Bishops house or to meandering trails on the property. It includes rock gardens, formal gardens, an outdoor ceremonial center that probably gets used for weddings and maybe out door masses? The gardens contain a large number of interesting plant species that are not often found elsewhere as a this garden is subject to a lot of shade in it's steep slope situation. There are large level areas surrounding the house except on the back side which backs up against what remind me of Florentine rock wall gardens and terraces. The Bishops Keep gardens are very well tended and maintained. The cliff side of the property affords views down to and across the river.. Just up river from the property is a shear basalt cliff higher than those below the property where there appears to be an active though seasonal waterfall. I have seen it from across the river and find that aspect extremely curious. I have not yet observed the seasonal water fall in action. These cliffs are fairly unique to the area with their very dark basalt color. The garden is open to the public but not advertised which is why I am not going to be more specific about its address and exact location. The curators offer plant starts from their unique horticultural collections in a self serve honor system area. I happily paid the set price for plant starts on several occasions. Some of the offerings are very nice because they are suitable to be grown in moderate to full shade. Bishops Keep is a pleasant place to spend part of an afternoon . It closes at 4 pm on the days it is open as one consideration of when to visit. It is a prime horticultural spot and also one with geological and historic points of interest including the views of the river and the rock island below. The house , though not open to the public , is a charming entity on its own. There are fountains on the property of note and I believe a natural spring or a small creek flows across it. The general location is between John's Landing and Lake Oswego . I believe it is in the unincorporated riverdale area but it may actually be dunthorpe.? I do not want to be too specific about the location because I rather like keeping the place more secret than other local gardens that give me clustophobia due to their popularity. It is definitely worth a visit. It is a unique Portland area "attraction" that is mostly unknown to most garden lovers in the area. .