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NW Gardens: Aitken, Keppel, Schreiner's

From: Scott Aitken  <zebra@chcs.com>

I recently returned from a long weekend in the Portland, OR area. I had an
opportunity to visit the Aitken's (of course, that's my folks),
Schreiner's, and Keith Keppel's gardens.

Schreiner's 300 plus acres are impressive, even in a bad year. Sadly, this
has been a rough year for them. They suffered a very severe winter (for
Oregon), with a late frost after the plants had begun to grow. There is a
list of plants that will not be available as a result. Their display garden
has a lovely layout. Iris are arranged among Lupin, Poppies and Pansies.
Unfortunately, I noticed a few holes, where Iris have been dug out, and
many of the remaining Iris have a lot of leaf spot or no bloom. Among their
new introductions, I liked BLUE SUEDE SHOES and SKYWALKER. Visitors are not
allowed to wander the 300 acres, and are restricted to a couple of display
gardens and gift shops.

When we arrived at Keith Keppel's garden (roughly 3 acres, about 10 minutes
drive from Schreiner's), he told us that we would see better bloom if we
came back in 11 months (har har). He too suffered a bad winter. Keppel has
no display bed, but you can wander through his whole garden. He is a very
picky hybridizer, and only introduces very excellent flowers. My favorite
this year is NIGHT FLAME. He also has introductions from Joe Gatty and
Barry Blyth.

Aitken's Salmon Creek Gardens (about 4 acres) is about 70 miles north of
Keppel & Schreiner. Far enough away that the weather didn't have as
detrimental effect on the poor plants. Bloom season seems to be about a
week behind Keppel & Schreiner. Aitken's have a display bed -- not as
elaborate as Schreiner's, just rows of iris arranged by iris classification
and alphabetized so they're easy to find. They had a soggy winter (happy
slugs), but the display flowers are well groomed and the plants are in
better shape. They also have a nice selection of Siberian Iris that I
really like.

Back in Seattle, TBs are just starting to open. No major hybridizers around
here, but our little garden looks nice. I'm looking forward to an iris

Scott Aitken

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