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Inspiration from the Mountain

Sometimes I am most inspired by landscapes that have not been designed at all. Or rather, are designed by Mother Nature herself. We have no shortage of inspiration in the Pacific Northwest, but the 40 mile loop around Mt. Hood is perhaps my favorite.

This is the West side of the mountain as the sun is setting in August. The colors are striking. Water is dripping everywhere and even sheer surfaces are covered in green.

This "water feature" would fit right into a built garden, don't you think? The rust color of the wall, the soft pink and grey-blue of the boulder. Yes, please.

You may have heard the phrase "right plant, right place". This is never more obvious than in nature. In the shady spots, we get great shades of green and contrast in leaf form. Here we have Western Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium disjunctum), Vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla) and Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus).

In the sun, we get wildflowers in bold hues. Red Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), yellow and pink Monkeyflower (Mimulus sp.), purple Lupine and my favorite: the white seedhead of Pasqueflower (Anemone occidentalis).

The NE side of the mountain is harsh and desolate. I find the abrupt change in climate to be gorgeous and unsettling at the same time.

Some day, perhaps, I shall create a wildflower cliff as an ode to this scene. It would be but a nod - I cannot compete with Mother Nature, the original landscape designer.


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