On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
Tonight we have delightful flower photos. The azalea in the top picture is magnificent! I would kill to have that in my garden. If that seems a little dark… well, we couldn’t have an After Dark post with only bright, happy, gorgeous flowers, could we?
Seriously, though, it would be great to keep these posts politics-free. This is the submitter’s moment to share their world with the rest of us. ~WaterGirl
Hello again! I read Mike in Oly’s post about his trip to Mt. Pleasant 1.5 years ago, which inspired me to plan a road trip with my mom that would both test my new Leaf and my ability to not secretly abandon her in Longview. (Just kidding, Mumz, I would only abandon you at Southcenter Mall ?) My mom absolutely loves flowers and plants in general, so after much planning on where to get free charging stations and decent meals, off we went in June, which is the tail end of iris season, 2019. I’ll spare you the video I took of my mom blissfully unaware of an army of geese marching up on her and get right to the flowers.
I should note that while Chad, the owner of the farm, specializes in and sells irises, he’s a master gardener in general. This lovely, enormous azalea bush greets visitors as they approach his house.
More of his own plants. I know the name Chad has become an insulting meme name, but we seriously need more Chads of this sort in the world. Just the nicest guy, took the time from his busy work schedule (the farm is essentially a 2-person operation) to chat the live-long day with us about irises and bigger iris farms in Oregon that we should visit. He even went inside to print the list of PNW iris farms for us and mark which ones were the most worth visiting. When you have someone pointing out the competition to say that they’re better, that’s how you really know that they just #*@&ing love their profession.
Just a few of the irises that Chad has promulgated. Not only are they beautiful, but the size of the blooms were that of a Russet potato. He creates his own hybrids, including some really special ones with parent plants from Japan. After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, master gardeners in Japan were terrified that their 300-year-old irises would be affected or die due to radiation, so they gave iris farms in the PNW bunches of their prize irises. (Turns out that there’s a pretty close relationship btw iris people in the PNW and Japan.) Even if the parent plants did wither (or mutate, hehe), at least Chad and the other farmers would have the daughters to keep the 300-year-old line going. We saw them and the hybrids that Chad created between them and his own irises. They were pretty awesome.
Mt. Pleasant is closed to the public for obvious reasons this year, but if you like what you see, you can check out Mt. Pleasant’s online catalogue of irises to buy for your own garden ?? Chad is seriously just the nicest person; we all need pocket Chads in these times.
Emma, if you have the video up YouTube, I can easily add it to the thread.
That yellow iris with the brown is so lovely, and the white one with pale yellow and I think the pinky-purple outline is the most amazing iris I have ever seen!
I like the white iris with pink trim. I have a bunch of white iris in my side yard that I need to move to the front this autumn, and my brother game me a bunch of dark navy blue daughters that I need to plant as well.
My main beef with irises is that the big flashy blooms don’t seem to attract the pollinators like a bunch of smaller flowers will.
Love love love the wonderful photos. Thanks!
Wonderful photos Emma, thank you!
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
Wonderful iris pictures, but I agree with WG, the azalea bush is worth killing for :-)
That azalea is breathtaking!
Good shots, I like iris.
What a gorgeous array of blooms! Saturated colors and contrasts – Thank you for sharing.
This is some rad shit. Totally awesome
Did On The Road have its first stomp? :P
Emma, it’s not just the iris connection. The Japanese have had a long standing relationship with the Pacific Northwest since the first wave of Asian immigration in the 1850s. So I’m not surprised at all that the Japanese iris growers would have turned to their PNW connections to save their flowers. I think only California and Hawai’i got more Japanese.
Oops, I forgot that my turn was coming up heh. WaterGirl, thanks for the offer for the video, but nah, I’ve kept it solely on my phone to avoid any potential embarrassment for my mom lol. Not that it’s a very flashy video anyway, she was just standing with her phone taking pictures of something in the distance, while the geese in her immediate vicinity were all marching her way. She ran away after I took the pity on her and told her haha.
@Emma: I don’t blame your mom, those geese are mean bastards. The have them at The Huntington, I avoid them.
@Yutsano: yes, I definitely knew about the longstanding connection between Japan and the PNW (terribly harmed by the incarceration camps, unfortunately, what with so many Japanese Americans simply choosing to leave the US after that), I just wasn’t flower-savvy enough to know about irises being a thing in both Japan and the PNW. But yeah, it’s pretty awesome to see 300-year-old irises that generations of gardeners have kept healthy :)
@Wapiti: I find that flower gardens are increasingly becoming that way, sadly. Not that irises have a scent anyway, if bees can smell, but when I visited the Bronx Botanical Gardens, the flowers had absolutely no scent, despite being big and beautiful. Such a shame, but I guess fragrant-sensitive people can enjoy them more.
@A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan): @Auntie Anne:
I couldn’t convey the size of his azalea without losing the beautiful variations of red, pink, and white (which I believe Chad said he purposely bred that way), but this bush was literally like 15 feet long and about 5 feet tall. Crazy huge. And no twiggy bits either, which my azalea bush at home definitely has.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: Lol, the master photographer complimenting my iPhone photo skillz XD thanks!
@Emma: If it helps, bees find flowers in a fascinating process that has nothing to do with scent. I always thought they found flowers by sight since bees can see in ultraviolet. I learned something here!
I have been to Washougal, multiple times!
Pendleton has a mill and factory outlet there. Not the “Just off I-70” kind of outlet but an actual outlet. Woolens to die for.
I could live on the banks of the Columbia River. I’d want an elevation of at least 200′. but after that I’m good.
@Yutsano: Oooh very cool, almost as cool as learning how bees in Japan developed a killing method for murder hornets!
@trollhattan: Oh god, good thing we didn’t know about that, or my mother would have dragged me there next, haha. Maybe we’ll take a detour when we head down to the Oregon iris farms on our next trip, thanks!
Mike in Oly
Great shots, Emma! Glad you enjoyed your trip. And I second that Chad is such a wonderful gardener and garden host. His collection is amazing. If you are on Facebook look up Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm. He is also a fantastic photographer and posts stunning photos of his garden and flowers. And for anyone that wants pollinator friendly irises try the old hybrids from the early 20th century or even 19th century, and also species irises. They are well loved by the bees. Most modern ones get ignored.
All of these photos are just stunning! Does anyone know what the plant in the third photo is?
Sounds silly, but I just about swoon at the sight of azaleas. Not sure if the scale of it is clear, but this azalea in my neighborhood is almost six feet tall.
@debbie: Holy cow, that’s a gorgeous azalea!
@Mike in Oly: thanks, I didn’t think to check for a FB page! He was so nice, he printed us maps of his farm and iris farm locations from his COLOR printer. If I had a color printer, I’d defend it from non-essential use with my life.
@debbie: They’re pitcher plants! I was super impressed that he could get them to grow so well in a non-tropical climate (although I assume he takes them in for the winter). I had a pitcher plant as a kid in Singapore, and I have fond memories of feeding it scraps of meat from dinner. But Chad’s pitcher plants were at least a foot tall, which, like his azalea, is crazy huge.
Wow! I didn’t know they could get so large! My brother had one and it was less than 3 or 4 inches tall.
Every time I walk by it while it’s in bloom, my eyes’ rods and cones go nuts!
Thanx for this.
Many years ago I was leading a team for a year-long project based in Portland, flying back and forth from the Northeast. One weekend in June, I dragged the part of my team that was staying over the weekend on a road trip down the Oregon coast and then inland to Salem because I wanted to visit the iris farm from which I had been yearly buying rhizomes. So we get there and it was their Iris Festival day, with music, food and acres and acres of iris in bloom. Even my comrades came away with an appreciation of the flower.
I will never forget it. So amazingly beautiful. Unfortunately, before smart phones and we had no cameras with us.
I’m almost certain that azalea is a Satsuki azalea (Kiro no Hikari). They are prized by the Japanese. I had a pair at my last house and they would bloom in multiple colors on the same plant and stem. In fact, some of the individual flowers were half pink and half white, split right down the center. Absolutely amazing. I live in Georgia and they always bloomed around Memorial Day. Mine were easily each 10 feet wide and 4-5 feet tall (20 years old). Since we have naturally acidic soil, it asked for nothing else from me. Very low maintenance. A couple hours of direct sun at midday, but otherwise shaded the rest of the day with well-drained soil. I recommend highly recommend them!
@Digger: Wow, I googled that, hoping they are available for sale.
J R in WV
Those are carnivorous pitcher plants, my fave of the whole shoot, really. Yes, I know I’m weird~!~
Does anyone know what the iris in photo #6 is? I desperately want one!
@WaterGirl: I believe it’s either the Evelyn White or the Yuzen, but unfortunately for you, I see that EVERYTHING is sold out on his catalogue!
@Emma: Thank you. There’s always next year. :-) February, they said.
@WaterGirl: LOL. I think you were looking at some professional bonsai examples. They are beautiful, but I’d rather have a giant shrub. A pre-bonsai specimen is a normal price. I bought mine at a local garden center labeled as Dwarf Gumpo azaleas. I was pleasantly surprised to find they weren’t.