Wesley Younie is a painter and trendsetting garden designer leaving his mark all over Portland. Through his business, Wesley Younie Creative, his calendar is packed with eager clients seeking drought-tolerant and aesthetically pleasing flower-filled landscapes.
Past clients include Sequitur Wine in Newburg, Union Wine in Tualatin and dozens of private residences, including many here in Concordia.
Ready to take the plunge and pull out your lawn? Younie recommends starting with the parking strip. “You want it to be low maintenance,” he said. “Why not fill it with plants and shrubs that thrive in the Pacific Northwest?”
Visit WesleyYounie.com to see more of his work or get in touch.
The following interview took place in late summer, in Younie’s stunning home garden in Concordia.
Shelton: Looking at your paintings, I’m noticing an interest in nature. Also, a lot of small details. How does your painting interact with your garden design?
Younie: “Well, it’s all the same elements. I say, ‘I’m painting with plants.’ Kind of cheesy to say, but true. It’s the same formula if you’re painting a landscape, except you’re doing it in 3D. And color is huge in my gardens. There are colors I don’t like using. There are colors that are favorites, and those that are really easy to blend together—purple, blue, pink, white, dark red. If I like a bright color, it’s usually orange.”
Your personal garden is packed full of plants. And when I walk down the long sidewalk in front of your house, nestled between the parking strip and the rock retaining wall that lines your lot, I instantly feel transported. Not sure I can pinpoint what that feeling is though. What is it about for you?
“To me, it’s the same thing as art. It’s all about creating a feeling. I once wrote in an artist statement, ‘I want my work to transport you to another world.’ It’s the same in gardens. I like different themes and playing with mixing themes. Parts of my garden are Japanese, parts are tropical and other parts are really arid, natural California desert–looking. It’s so important to have the big picture, then the details. I think that’s what a lot of homeowners can’t figure out. What’s the big picture of my garden or landscape?”
When you set out to design a garden for a client, what are your priorities?
“I really want the client to love the garden. And making sure they are set up for success. Like, don’t let them put a vegetable garden in the shade.”
What’s going on in our gardens in October? What should we be doing?
“Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs because it’s starting to rain and you can have them watered for free. You can start planting fall edible plants too, as well as bulbs.”
Can we plant flowers for spring?
“Perennials, yes, because then they go dormant, then they come back and they look great. It’s a great time to add color to your garden.”
Where do you buy plants?
“My favorite nursery in town, Xera Plants at 1114 SE Clay St. I like to promote them because they’re local, they have good prices and all their plants do great in our climate.”
Speaking of climate, how do we plant for a warming one?
“What I’ve been into, and I’m seeing with clients, is a huge push for pollinating flowers that help the ecosystem by attracting bees and other insects. I went to a big nursery conference, and they said pollinators are the number one thing people are asking for. That makes me happy that people are thinking about this.
“And with the fires and climate change— Oregon is getting hotter—there are so many plants that are going to look green, are drought tolerant and are going to look way better than a dead lawn. I love taking out a lawn. And a lot of the gardens in the neighborhood that I’ve done are that. How much better for the ecosystem is a pollinator garden that’s creating habitat than a dead lawn?”
Leigh Shelton is the new lead ad representative for CNews. She loves raising her three children in Concordia and doing yoga nidra. For advertisement inquiries, contact Leigh at CNewsBusiness@ ConcordiaPDX.org.