Monday, October 26, 2020

On the Road Again: Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm

By Bryce Williamson 

Taking my leave of Aitken’s Salmon Creek, I decided to head back to Highway 14 and up the Columbia River gorge to my next and final stop of the 2019 iris trek to Oregon and Washington. While looking for a good lunch spot, I drove into several of the little towns around the Columbia, found them charming, quaint, and full of interesting small shops, promising to myself that on a less pressured trip I would take time to explore. In one of those little towns, I found busy, ethnic eatery. Looking back, I cannot help but wonder if they will still be in business if and when this horrible Corona 19 pandemic ends?

After getting back on the road, I knew that when Highway 14 narrows from four lanes to two that I was getting close to Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm. Cutting to the left across the highway into the driveway, I waved to Dale, busy mowing grass, I parked as I always do, by the barn, and I first stopped to admire the changes to the nearby pond, and then went down to the garden.

The 2018 trip was highlighted by two things. I enjoyed the large clump of my ‘Jesse’s Song’ integrated into a border. I had saved the image for later use in The American Iris Society’s photo contest, but it did not place.

The second, and more exciting part of the 2019 trip was to see the new iris species ‘Azure Blue’.

Chad, in a recent exchange of emails, reports 'Azure Blue' is alive and that he was able to get seed from it this year, seed that is now planted. I don’t know where Chad Harris gets all his energy to maintain such a large garden, but it is always a treat to visit. One of these days, I will even get to the garden for Japanese iris bloom.

Because the garden is further north and located in an unusual climate pocket along the river, the tall bearded irises tend to bloom later in this garden.

'Belle Fille' 

'Blinded by the Light'

Siberian 'Pretty Polly'

Siberian 'Ships Are Sailing'

'Bingo Marker' MTB

Siberian 'Concord Crush'

'Wishes Granted'

After viewing irises, Chad, Dale, and I sat on the patio and had time for pleasant exchange of ideas and information. Dale is a county official and his insight into dynamics of the area was interesting.

As we were talking, I mentioned that since I had never driven all the way up to Bonneville Dam and that was on the agenda since I was staying at the Best Western Columbia River Inn. That in turn lead to their recommendation that I go back to the Washington side of the river to the town of Stevenson for dinner at a Mexican cantina, El Rio. To get back and forth between Washington and Oregon, it is necessary to cross the Bridge of the Gods.

Bridge of the Gods

But their strongest recommendation was that the next morning I should drive back to Portland Airport on the Oregon side of the gorge on Columbia River Highway Scenic Highway and stop and see the various waterfalls. I took their recommendations to heart and the following images are from that morning’s drive.

Vista House on the scenic highway

Little did I know when I flew home making plans for another trip in 2020, a trip that was not going to happen in these troubled times. I am cautiously hopeful that I will be able to visit next year.





  1. A well written and interesting article with good photos. Makes me want to jump in the car for a road trip up north!

  2. What a wonderful trip. Love visiting Chad and Dale’s farm. Thank you for posting.

  3. Bryce, thank you so much for sharing your lovely photos and experiences of your trip. What a nice journey!


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