Cistus Nursery: Seed Grown Wonders Currently on Mail Order


It has been a great week, but I’m exhausted, and I’ve not yet written posts in advance to make this weekly posting process easier. As usual, my commute back and forth to Cistus Nursery was pleasant and I continue to enjoy listening to audiobooks. There is so much change in the air this time of year.

One of the fun things happening at the nursery is that the City of Portland is regularly there for plants. I have no idea how or where they’re being used (most of the time), but I look forward to that tour in a few years once a few things have grown in a bit—especially the trees! Beginning there, let’s just say that there are many of our trees that I’ve grown from seed (or acorn) since I started. There are more than a few available now, but I cannot take credit for them all! We have so many wonderful things that we grow, and it takes a village to make that all happen.

Passiflora manicata Venezuela, a passion vine with a red bloom. It’s a zone 9 plant so for many of you it will need protection, or else it can be grown in a container.

Yes, online shopping at the nursery site is a bit old school, but we’re working on that. Until that changes, if there is something you’d like to order, sending an email works well, or else you can call directly to place your order over the phone. If we’re out, we can add you to a waitlist. For some of our very rare and super special stuff, it’s always good to get on those lists. Some crops are just small, and that’s the way it is, and this is how we’re able to offer so many incredible plant “flavors” at the same time.

Our waitlists also help us to decide what’s a propagation priority too! You ask and we listen!

Ferula communis ‘Gigantea’. If you’re like me and you like some dramatic foliage plants, this is the one for you.

Some of the plant crops we have are just plain A*M*A*Z*I*N*G. Nothing says: the gardener who lives here is just plain FUN—like a Ferula. Having seen these growing in the wild in Sicily I’m Forever a Ferula Fangirl.

Ferula communis ssp. glauca. If one is not enough for you, and you love to collect and compare, then here’s Ferula #2.

Nothing says “repetition” like a collection right? That’s why I have to have 10 of everything in completely different colors, right? #planthoard #gardenmaximalism #moreismore

And speaking of Maximalism, a design style that’s currently popular and one which I’m rather fond of, texture on texture, on texture, with colors thrown in, is what it’s all about. Cistus Nursery is a great place for the Maximalists out there!

Cercis occidentalis. A beautiful tree grown closer to home.

Folks sometimes confuse this native Southern Oregon/NorCal native with its more common relative Cercis canadensis. While it’s similar, it won’t do well being given regular irrigation during the summer. This tree wants to be a bit more on the dry side but you can irrigate it until it’s established. Just be sure to let it dry out between waterings.

Schefflera delavayi is not quite ready for mail order, but it’s close. I used to joke that I couldn’t keep this one straight with another but now they’re all straightened out in my mind. Growing these from seed has been quite an accomplishment and they’re simply stunning plants in the garden.

I jokingly avoided many plants from Cistus Nursery for ages because they were so popular with so many of my blogging friends. While I could have added them many times over during the last 20 years, I guess I’m a jerk and just needed to grow my own. It’s not meant as an insult to the other propagators that came before me, it just worked out that way! Once again I’m late to the party but I had to wait to fall in love with something. Being popular with my friends doesn’t always cut it for me but luckily we have something for everyone!

Sonchus palmensis is still available and they’re a bit larger than they were last year.

These seem a bit large for mail order, so keep that in mind. You’ll be getting a nice big plant. I grew these from seed last year, and they need some winter protection, but are otherwise a giant dandelion tree. No big deal. Kind of amazingly cool.

Aristolochia californica. We don’t have these in the catalog right now, but we have a crop of seedlings that was just potted up. We’ll have them again soon and I’d suggest keeping this vine in mind. It’s a wandering, scrambling, winter-blooming vine.

I’m adding a few photos of other favorite plants. I’ve been enjoying this vine in the parking lot for the last few months and soon I’ll be watching over its seed heads. We collect them there at the nursery, and then grow these plants from seed. Last year we lost the seeds to insects, but these are the wars we wage to do what we love.

Asparagus scandens var. deflexus. This one is not available, but we have a few different unusual choices for container plantings.

Lastly, I have this asparagus plant. I tent to love all of the ornamental ones, but this is a special favorite. It appears soft and fluffy as it tumbles out of containers. It’s a bit thorny though. I hope to have a new crop of it soon. I just needed to collect, clean and sow all of those berries.

No big deal. It’s just what I do.


Hope you enjoyed this little greenhouse tour of a few of my favorites. There’s nothing new and earth shattering, but it’s fun to share the fruits of my labors with you.

Snow, Beauty, and Grief in February 2018


February of 2018 started out quietly. After months of renovating the kitchen I was trying to return to normal for all of us—including the cats.  It was cold and grey. I’d signed up for a few more classes in horticulture at Clackamas Community College. My hope was that I’d feel better and do more in the coming year but I honestly wasn’t sure yet what that would mean.

There were still a few more things to add. John picked this old chandelier for the dining room and a light for the entry too. The cats began to relax and LuLu took over the kitchen again. I started seeds, and some were soaked in hot water in my grandma’s vintage mugs. I enjoyed the winter light that now could come in all along the north side of the house thanks to having opened up the back room. For Valentine’s Day, I received a juniper bonsai. Life was really settling in.

On February 11th, I lost a good friend. George Hull and I didn’t know one another for very long but he was very supportive of my drive to propagate and to eventually breed some plants. He was a plantsman who saw me as a plantswoman. He encouraged me and mentored me. He understood my spinal issues because he too had sustained injuries from a serious fall. I miss having him around to talk to about the chronic pain. In his absence, I try to channel the qualities I miss most about him so that I can share with others what he shared with me. I do miss him though. I know a lot of us miss him.

So that’s when I really embraced my garden. Mourning is a long process when you care about someone, and losing George was difficult. My Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ bloomed longer last season than it ever had. The Camellia japonica ‘Black Magic’ bloomed before, during, and after we had snow. It was magnificent! My heart also opened to a new plant, the Camellia x ‘Yume’. With a name that translates as ‘Dream’, this former Surrealism was immediately smitten. The pink and white petals really did it for me. Wow!

At work, winter moved on. Hummingbirds sipped from the Arctostaphylos when it snowed, the Garrya were dressed in their winter best, and the Aristolochia californica started to bloom. Though I’ve not yet planted one of these amazing vines in my own garden, I plan to do so soon. It’s a favorite of mine at work. Additionally, the Cirsium diacanthus (aka Ptilostemon afer) seeds I sowed started to look great. In retail, I met Rhododendron ‘Snow Lady’ for the first time.


Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Hiltingbury’.

Before class one night at Clackamas Community College I went back to the row of Hamamelis to find the one I’d really liked a year or two ago. It was Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Hiltingbury’ and I was happy to see it again. Yes, there are others that are more popular, but I really like this one. I don’t have room for it in my garden, but I look forward to seeing it again next month when I return to take another class.

There were two more unusual things that happened that month.

A designer up in Seattle wanted a tree that he’d seen at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show but the show was over, and his client hadn’t gotten back to him in time, so he contacted the grower while they were driving home. It just so happened they were near Portland so it was delivered to my house where he came to retrieve it a week or two later. I didn’t see it installed, but it’s likely a really beauty. It was a weeping Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’.

The second fun event was a propagation workshop for the bloggers at Joy Creek Nursery. I felt right at home in the greenhouse taking cuttings although it’s not what I do primarily do at work.

Lastly, we had some snow. It seems like that happens from time to time around here. I don’t mind it at all. As a matter of fact, I kind of like the cold of winter. What was the most entertaining though was watching our part Norwegian forest cat Oliver, aka Ollie. That’s him with the wide eyes in that last photo. If you could zoom in you’d see that there were tiny snowflakes coming down. I was surprised at his excitement. He sat at the window all night watching it snow. While the snow was here, he ran out when I let him and he’d borrow and dig and jump around. His joy brought me much joy.