We just got back from spending a week roasting ourselves in the high desert country in Central Oregon. The area around Bend, Oregon, is a popular vacation destination in the northwest in summer and winter, in part due to it’s high elevation and dry conditions. Fly fishing, hiking and cycling are all popular summer activities. Wintertime brings excellent powdery snow on Mount Bachelor and plenty of other snow adventures.

Every year we flock there for the sunshine to tan our skins and spend lots of time on our bikes weaving our way through the forest. I took lots of pictures of the plants that make this landscape so special to me. Whenever I smell that Ponderosa Pine forest, it makes my mind immediately feel relaxed and at ease.

I was surprised to see some familiar valley plants thriving in this much more extreme climate, like Oregon Grape. The berries were a staple food source for the Native Americans and are almost ripe! This is such a versatile native plant to work with. It has yellow flowers in the spring, edible berries this time of year, and the evergreen foliage can turn purple in the winter.

It was really fun to see stands of aspen trees. Their roots become attached to each other underground, making an aspen forest one of the largest living organisms on earth! Such beauties! They don’t always like living here in the valley, but are excellent in central Oregon.

And finally I saw lots of nice landscape plant collections that were working with the climate, rather than against it. This rock garden was pretty large and had lovely little nooks and crannies for succulents. They are such hardy little gems that can stand drought and cold winters. I have a few in containers here at home because I can neglect them completely and still get some pretty plants to enjoy.

I’ll write a separate post about the delicious vacation food we cooked while we were away. I know every family has their favorite go-to recipes and I would love to exchange mine with yours.


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Written by Renee Wilkinson