Sometimes a great passion. . .

I really admire people who have a passion for something. It almost doesn’t matter what. For example, I can’t imagine ever sharing Josh’s passion for technology gadgets, but I love reading his stuff (see “Tiny Screenfuls” in my blogroll) because of his overwhelming enthusiasm.

I met one of those people yesterday on my return trip from town. I’ll tell you a little bit about her. For those of you anywhere in the Portland area who love plants, it’s worth a trip out to Yamhill just to meet her.

Merle Dean Feldman and her husband Dave own a place called Storyhill Farm and Nursery. Merle Dean is the gardener. Dave introduced himself as “the handy man.” I stopped there because I’ve probably passed it a hundred or more time when I was commuting back and forth from Hillsboro to the farm. I’ve always wanted to stop. Yesterday the sun was shining, I wasn’t in a hurry, and the “open” sign was out. So I stopped.

I explained that I just wanted to look around. We got to talking, and I started seeing things I suddenly felt I really had to have. So I came home with three very strange conifers, one red, one blue, and one mostly yellow (Heatherbun, Blue Ice, and Siddon Sugi). I also bought two pots of Siberian iris to complement my Japanese yellow ones, two pots of violets (one with a gorgeous red/purple foliage and one with a fragrance you can smell 100 yards from the house), and some assorted violas and pansies to sprinkle among my lupine and bulbs.

My total bill was somewhat less than I probably would have paid for one of the trees at the nusrseries where I normally browse.

But that amazing thing was that Merle Dean seems to know the complete botanical history of every plant she sells–what was crossbred with what, where it originated, who’s responsible, and so on. She spoke almost exclusively in Latin names (paying me the compliment of assuming I knew something) until I finally explained that my level of botanical knowledge stopped somewhere around “That’s a really pretty tree.” As with art, I know what I like and that’s about it.

It’s the Merle Deans of this world, with the passion for growing things, that give me some hope that the natural things might survive (and even thrive in places) the onslaught of faith in technology to solve all problems. IMNHO, it just won’t, and we’d better be paying attention to other things as well.

But now I’ve made a lot of work for myself, and I’d better get on with it.


8 Responses to “Sometimes a great passion. . .”

  1. whitishrabbit Says:

    Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh… (that’s me, almost tripping over myself in eagerness to tell you about another local plant place)

    Maybe you’ve been here, but most people don’t find it unless they first stop at the ramshackle, smaller one up by the road, and get ‘referred’. The one on the highway must be called ‘Yaquina Nursery’, on the maps its in the right place. You see it before you come to the first stoplight of Newport. You turn in at Yaquina nursery, but there’s a small road that leads down a hill to the left of the nursery. I dont know if cars are allowed on it, or not, we just walked. Walk down the hill and you’ll come upon one of the strangest most amazing plant places I’ve ever seen.

    The room in one of the buildings is almost like a jungle. They have different climates in the different (big) greenhouses, and one is devoted to cactii and succulents. I’m not a huuuuge plant person, though I like my little herb garden, but visiting this place isn’t like going to a nursery, it’s like stalking into an exotic habitat. I haven’t been there in over a year. Warning- if you get the lady there talking about plants you should take the precaution of having water and food reserves on hand. She didn’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of the lady you described, but she has quite a lot of enthusiasm.

  2. whitishrabbit Says:

    for sake of clarity- I mean Hwy 20. The nursery is just a bit before you enter Newport from the directon of Philomath.

  3. mklekacz Says:

    Rabbit, I’ve been to Yaquina Nursery. That’s where I bought the rosemary to attempt to keep the deer out of my flowerbed. I might be wrong, but I think the greenhouses you’re referring to are actually part of Yaquina, a section they refer to as “our greenhouses down the hill.” I haven’t made the trip down to visit them yet, but after your recommendation, I surely will.

  4. whitishrabbit Says:

    Hi again, I wrote this on my blog, but wanted to make sure you got it. I’d NEVER take your blog off my roll, I’ve just renamed a lot of them in the hope of generating more clicks. You are ‘Northwest Nature and Foodstuffs’.

    And definitely make the trip if you have a chance, it’s very worth it.

  5. whitishrabbit Says:

    What’s weird is I renamed and reorganized weeks ago, but you’re the second person who noticed the change today.

    When I highlight your blog I’ll use ‘Marianne’s Virtual Salon’. As I’ve changed and evolved my blogroll I found it easiest to give names that would help me remember which is which.

  6. mklekacz Says:

    Rabbit, I appreciate the motivation. I probably should have put a smiley face after my query (since I’d already received your e-mail) but I didn’t. I don’t have any fancy smiley faces, and I think people get tired of my offhand wink. I knew you weren’t abandoning me. It’s just my little passive-aggresive alter-ego coming out. . .

  7. whitishrabbit Says:

    Oh, you were kidding? Ooops.

  8. mklekacz Says:

    No oops required. We can all use a little positive reinforcement. . .

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