Friday, July 31, 2009

Noble Rot .. Hotel Monaco: Whirlwind Tour of Portland's Green Scene

Portland is on top of the Green movement!

I stayed a few nights at the Kimpton Groups' Hotel Monaco -Green Seal/Silver Tier certified. Eco-attributes include a basket to recycle glass & paper (just like at home), and complimentary bicycles, so Tom could enjoy his usual mode of transport. A pet-friendly establishment, to be sure.

Hotel Monaco is located in Portland's TriMet fareless zone. I took full advantage of the city's streetcars and MAX light rail, an incredibly tourist-friendly mode of getting around when you don't feel like walking. I traveled from downtown to the Pearl District for lunch, went back to visit the Portland Art Museum, and hopped on a streetcar once again to go out for dinner. The convenience of light rail allowed me to arrive fresh for a morning appointment at the Classical Chinese Gardenand return downtown for an afternoon tour of the eco-roof of the Multnomah County Central Library.


More on Portland's green roofs and living walls in the days ahead. I began my roof top touring with the productive kitchen garden at Noble Rot, where Chef/Co-owner Leather Storrs allowed me to nibble my way through the aisles! It's a 3000-square-foot roof top garden at this downtown Restaurant & Wine Bar. The Noble Rot web site states: Ask for a tour... and I say, go for it! Noble Rot moved to 1111 East Burnside in February, 2009, if I'm correct, where the restaurant occupies the 4th floor of an LEED platinum building with an underground aquifer for pure water. The eco-roof factors into the rating. The garden features 50 of these shallow kiddie pools, with 3 inches of soil and a layer of perlite on the bottom.

Among the savory edibles growing in a corner of the garden are tomatoes & Tromboncino squash, a delicately flavored zucchini with no seeds in the body of the vegetable. 3000-square-foot roof top garden at Noble Rot Restaurant & Wine Bar.
A lushly painted canvas, H. foetidus, adorns the restaurant's entryway.

Raised planters in Noble Rot's chemical-free garden.
Chef Leather grows peppers, horseradish, various basils,
as well as lettuces, herbs & flowers for his 'roof greens salad.'

Herbs and Mediterranean low-water plants grow in the eco-roof area.
Noble Rot's outdoor terrace is below this corner of the garden: a great view of downtown from here!
Hydroponic tubes - nasturtiums & parsley among the plants cultivated here.

Shiso (Perilla)
I sampled stawberries, sweet tender cucumbers, a lemony form of cilantro, nasturtium bloom, and the delectable Tromboncino squash, which I will have to grow next summer at Tom's allotment garden!

Link to more....


  1. This is fabulous, Alice! The kiddie pool idea is one we could all get inspiration from. Perlite, I would not have guessed it, but the weight factor makes it obvious. That hydroponic tube is bloomin' perfect too. I saw your comment on Steve S.'s blog and await the Chinese Garden portion of your trip. His post was amazing.

  2. Frances, the kiddie pools knocked my socks off... as the saying goes!
    After following Steve's entries on the Classical Chinese Garden, I'm considering a wordless entry with many pics! Steve covered the garden in such glorious detail, there's little left to say.

  3. How nice! I am so proud of Portland! I used to live there in 1992-1994 and where I have many friends. I also saw "my" black composter on one picture. We bought ours in Portland. kiddie pools - what a great idea! I would think they will dry very fast... Thanks for this amazing post!

  4. Well, this is very puzzling. Portland isn't in Oregon, it's in Dorset. I go there often and it doesn't look anything like your photos - all cliffs and sea and quarries.

    Fascinating examples of shallow gardening. I wouldn't have expected it to be possible. Gives one hope!

    Roof-top gardens seem to be the theme of the week. I've just arrived from Garden Girl's blog and she is talking about an organic rooftop garden there too. Like Frances - the weight factor came to mind.

  5. Tatyana,
    The kiddie pools are irrigated - click on photo & you can see irrigation device. The whole set-up was impressive, taking advantage of a wide variety of methods to grow produce on a roof top!

    Will you be my guide to Dorset's Portland? Sadly, I visited Dorset once but mainly to pass through on my way elsewhere. Missed all the cliffs and sea and quarries.

  6. What an amazing place! Very inspiring and I would love to visit there, and eat the food too!

  7. What great ideas. I have a flattish roof I've been dying to turn into a green roof ever since I learned such things were possible. I wonder if kiddie pools are the interim step?

  8. Phoenix C,
    We certainly did enjoy a meal at Noble Rot, seated on the outdoor terrace enjoying the late-afternoon sun. I had a flight of Oregon wines: the best I tasted on the entire trip!
    btw, your Sylvan mystery has me intrigued......

    Aren't the pools a good idea! With most roofs you do need to be concerned about installing a proper base, of course, and factor in support for walking on them. There's so much being written on creating green roofs that this would be the time to go forward. Keep me posted.

  9. Hi...what a fun assortment of gardening ideas. I, too, am fascinated by the kiddy pool gardens. Is the perlite the only drainage space provided or do the pools also have drainage holes? I'm working on a post for kids gardens and think the kiddy pools would tickle their fancy! Also loved the hydroponic system. The only set-ups I've seen in past and have been huge things. So, this also, was intriguing and seemed more accessible.
    Thanks for sharing. Jeannie

  10. I can't wait to go and visit Noble Rot next time I'm in PDX. Thanks for writing about this amazing spot. I'm hoping to move to Portland next year and your post reminds me of why!

  11. Jeannie,
    I think there must be drainage holes, too, but can't find a reference in my notes. Look forward to your post on gardens for kids.

    Everybody seems to be moving to Portland! The population there does appear to be growing, and the city thriving overall. Keep me informed of your whereabouts!