Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Have a Sucktacular Garden in Bend

Newcomers to Bend often ask me, as a 25-year resident of The Suckiest Little Town in the West, for suggestions on how to landscape their yards. Ol' Blackdog is always happy to oblige, because landscaping in Bend is ridiculously simple. Thanks to the cold, the dryness, and the incredibly short growing season, there are only three landscape elements that survive and thrive here: rocks, bark chips and juniper.

The top image shows a rock. (This one is a "lava rock," which is kind of cool.) An almost infinite variety of sizes, colors, styles and types of rocks is available to the Bend landscaper, which partly explains why rocks are such a popular element in local gardens. The other thing they've got going for them is that the Bend climate won't kill 'em

The second image depicts bark chips. Like rocks, bark chips are not, strictly speaking, a plant, although they are derived from plants -- specifically lodgepole pine, Ponderosa pine or hemlock trees, typically. Like juniper, bark has the advantage that the suckerrifically horrible climate of Bend can't kill it.

And last but certainly not least we have a picture of juniper, which is far and away the most popular landscaping plant in bend. Juniper is an ugly, gnarled, scrawny, scraggly, straggly, prickly, aggressive, hostile, vicious shrub/tree that bears no visible flowers and no significant fruit, except for small berries that sometimes ferment and are eaten by robins, with the result that your yard is littered with drunken birds making a disgusting spectacle of themselves. The only other thing juniper has to recommend it is that it is virtually impossible to kill. Even the non-stop suckiness of the Bend climate can't kill it.

So there you have your basic Bend landscaping tool kit. Just get somebody to deliver several hundred cubic yards of bark chips, spread it around, find a few rocks (you won't have to look far, and you won't have to pay for them) and scatter them here and there in the bark, then stick three or four scrawny juniper bushes in the ground and -- voila! Your Bend landscaping job is done! Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Ha! ( Well said? )

Yeah, it's hardly just Bend that's so reliant on bark dust as a landscaping 'element'? In fact, in OR in general ( it's our answer to just about every thing? )

Our HOA Prez has an obsession for the stuff! Gotta' make sure we get "fresh" barkdust down for the Spring! WTF? Who CARES! And how exactly is 'new' barkdust somehow superior to that eyesore dreary drab 'old' lot? ( Other than aggravating your allergies anew? ) Never did get... that.

Again, this is why I was so swept off my feet by Hornbrook, CA. There are trees down there 'other' than Doug Firs and Western Red Cedars! Of course I have no idea what their names might be, after nigh on 30 years in the Wil. Valley I'd completely forgotten there were any other varities?

But I don't believe there's call for native OR's to take offense? After 50 years in the Chicagoland area, I know my folks were just as eager for a change of scenery. Perfectly normal to tire of your surroundings after a time and no one should take it as a sign of "disloyalty" to no longer be able to take the weather.

blackdog said...

"And how exactly is 'new' barkdust somehow superior to that eyesore dreary drab 'old' lot?"

It has a nicer color. Also, bark dust tends to disappear over time; damned if I know where it goes, but you have to put down fresh stuff every year or two.