Spring is the New Fall- My Favorite Season in Oregon

Growing up in Minnesota I always professed my love of fall—my favorite season. It was the season filled with the beautiful and colorful tree leaves changing color, wonderful organic smell of dry leaves, low humidity and minimal rain/snow (if we were lucky). Imagine my surprise, as I live through my second spring in Portland, and am struck by how much I LOVE this season. Spring is my new favorite season!

I think I always wanted to love Spring in MN, but it was too fleeting, too unpredictable and in spite of the trees blooming and some smattering of color from emerging plants it was still so brown and dirty looking. And don’t even get me going on how there was always the fear that the weather could turn back to winter at any moment—I have childhood memories of snow on my birthday, which is May 12th.

Not surprisingly, spring in Portland is rainy. Rainy, but with temperate temperatures (average between 55-65 degrees) and more color and new plant growth than you can even imagine. I saw my first hyacinth blooming right around March 3rd and it just kept going from there.

First blooms of the season.

First blooms of the season.

Every week something new is coming to life and blooming.  Portland is pretty much green throughout the year, so as spring moves in it’s like blankets of color moving through the city. I’m still learning all of the plants and by no means consider myself a gardening expert, but what I can tell you is Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN is a planting zone 4 and Portland, OR is a zone 8. Those 4 levels of planting zone appear to make a big difference in the types of plants that survive and thrive.

Daffodil, tulips, hyacinth, daphne, rhododendrons, azalea, lilacs, wisteria and magnolia are just some of the blooms that start to color the city. Because the neighborhoods are at different elevation levels, everything blooms at a bit different timing. So when the magnolia trees start blooming in downtown Portland, you can expect the blooms in the SW Hills neighborhoods (about 500-1000 feet higher) to be blooming a couple weeks later. What this provides is constant colors throughout the city.

Sculpted wall of hot pink flowers.

Sculpted wall of hot pink flowers.

The colors of yellow, red, light pink, blue, purple, and hot pink are everywhere. Walls of color line some streets where the plants are mature and growing like a privacy walls, green the rest of the year but bright, vibrant colors during spring.

Daphne with it's heavenly scent.

Daphne with it’s heavenly scent.

In addition to the colors, the scents are amazing. I’ll be walking down the street and have to stop and smell. I’m sure that people think I’m crazy as I start turning around in a circle, trying to identify the plant that is producing the aroma I smell. One of the new plants I learned about this year is Daphne ordora, an unassuming evergreen shrub with pretty little blooms and the most heavenly scent you have ever smelled—a mix of jasmine and orange blossoms.

If you live in Portland I hope you are enjoying the beauty of spring (my new favorite season) and if you are thinking about visiting our fair city, don’t be afraid of the rains of spring, instead pack your raincoat and get ready to see color unlike you have ever seen before—I’ve included just a few of my pictures from this spring for you to view below. Happy spring!


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