Going on Now: Labor Day Sale at Cistus Nursery

Gorgeous Hedychium met us in the parking lot.
This summer has been lean and mean for me financially. So when Cistus Nursery posted that they were having a 30% off Labor Day Sale I knew I was in luck. What a great opportunity for me to save some pennies and head on out to Sauvie Island with my friend Billye.
Admittedly, I hadn’t been to Cistus since June so that made this visit a bit more special to me. It looked lovely as usual and I was so happy to be back.
While walking around with all the prickly things I thought about my friend Loree over at Danger Garden. I can still hear myself thinking, “Wow, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t take a picture of one of these things for my blog. I can talk about these things.” Then, just as I leaned in with my camera to get a closer look at the gorgeous Agave americana ‘Yellow Ribbons’ on the top shelf, the Agave aff. macroculmis T73-99 just beneath it on the bench poked me in the leg. Oops! When will I ever learn? (Both are great plants. Don’t let me give any of these plants a bad name.)
I admire those of you out there who can live with these plants and not hurt yourselves. Maybe I would do better with the Nolina macrocarpa sitting beside ‘Yellow Ribbons’? Hmmm, I think not. No. Let’s be positive. Maybe now is just not my time.

It really was a beautiful day and I loved looking up above the nursery to see all of the textures from the plantings. I’m so in love with green texture these days.

I was a little bit disappointed that Sean Hogan (the nursery’s owner) wasn’t around that day, but I hope to catch up with him this winter. He is a good plant friend and very much understands and encourages my seed habit. I like talking to him a lot about seed collecting adventures.

Canary Islands Juniper, Juniperus cedrus.

During this visit I looked at things differently. Sure, I don’t have room for this tree, but I liked it so I took a picture. I’m branching out a bit again, learning a few new things, paying attention.

My friend Billye with her new Italian greyhound Tango.

When you visit Cistus Nursery it’s often quite relaxing. This is the kind of retail environment you like to sit around in while you enjoy the sights.

Than again, if you’re like me, you can park people in the shade while you shop. Billye went for the plants but we all know that we’re not always so lucky and sometimes we end up dragging people with us to nurseries. Cistus is friendly for those folks.

While we were there, birds swirled overhead.

Chilean lantern tree, Crinodendron hookerianum.

As we walked back to pay for our plants I saw this Chilean lantern tree blooming. Mine is still happily growing along but it’s not blooming right now. I think I might have pruned it when it didn’t want to be pruned. I can wait.

Ashe magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla ssp. ashei.

My friend and I ventured back into the corner we’d missed. It was fun seeing a big leaf magnolia. These trees really make me smile with their big huge leaves.

Giant Cape Restio, Rhodocoma capensis.

There were other treats.

Lysionotus pauciflorus.

Up at the register I found temptation after temptation.

Lysionotus pauciflorus.
This one was really difficult to say “No” to but I did. Maybe next time…

Salvia buchananii ‘Velvet Slipper’.

I liked this one too.

Looking around it felt great to be back. I wish I could have purchased more but planting all of these plants takes time. I don’t have a lot of extra time nowadays. It’s good though because I’m staying busy with my garden coaching client.
Sometime soon I’ll be back. I highly recommend you go too if you can do so before now and Monday. The sale was really quite a treat. It’s worth the trip.

In the end I walked away with a few things I’d lost in the garden: Sedum divergens, a pine-scented rosemary, and a Melicytus crassifolius. I also added a few new friends: Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’, Mahonia gracilipes, and my first Dahlia. (It’s a Dahlia ‘Fascination’ and I’m so excited to finally have one.)

Who knows what I’ll end up doing this weekend, oh wait, I know: Annual Dahlia Festival. Maybe I’ll see you there!


Random Arts & Crafts Progress


It is getting late and my husband is in the kitchen making preparations for our street’s first block party tomorrow. He is the trained chef, I am not, and I am grateful that he is here for a visit from the vineyard in CA because I have needed his help dearly in the last few weeks. As much as I love the summer, and I love my garden, this time of the year is always very hard for me physically here in the NW, especially with little physical help available to me, but this has been the best summer I’ve had in many years so I am not complaining.

In the garden there are a few special blooms to share right now. One is the first bloom I’ve seen on an unusual plant in our collection while the other is purely a sentimental bloom from a pass-along I purchased seeds for at a museum in Los Angeles.
This is the only bloom on the Crinodendron hookerianum (aka Chilean Lantern Tree) in the backyard and it is our first. This is a shrub I planted 2 or 3 years ago and I’d forgotten about since it nearly dies every winter but then it springs back to life just in time for winter to slam it down hard again so it’s easy to miss in the mess. Maybe we’ve turned the corner on those days though since there are more blooms to come; they just haven’t reached maturity yet. I like what I see though.
The other bloom I wanted to post is on a hollyhock in my garden, single and white, planted from seeds I purchased at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. The plant itself is pretty roughed up with rust, but I just couldn’t yank it out. It is one of those sentimental things for me, reminding me of a time not that long ago when I was well enough to work, albeit briefly, doing something I’d studied for, and which I loved a great deal.
Back when I worked at The Gordon House I applied for one of the small scholarships offered by the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy in Chicago to attend an annual Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy Conference and I was granted that dream. It is a city I have visited many times now, both before and after, but that visit was very special since I attended many events and I saw the interiors of homes that very few members of the public are ever allowed to see. I also met Dion Neutra in his home in Silver Lake—the son of the architect Richard Neutra—and he was a really kind man who inspired me with his humility and kindness.
At night, after the conference tours, I’d wander off by myself to Pasadena for their annual Craftsmen Weekend with events organized around the designs of Greene & Greene. I was experiencing the best of both worlds in my mind, and I even skipped a party with Hollywood producer Joel Silver so that I could spend an evening dining at the Gamble House. I have never regretted that choice and I will always remember that event as well as the smashing party at the home once owned by Ernest Batchelder, a leading tile designer during the American Arts & Crafts Movement.
At that party I stayed late, wandering in circles around the property, between the house and the old artisan’s studio, lingering near the tiled fountain grotto at the far edge of the property in the back corner of the garden, and then finally in the kitchen, dining room, and living room with the magnificent fireplace. Eventually I spoke with the homeowner, a retired professor who’d spoken that day at my conference, and he was overjoyed that I was such a turncoat. I’d left Frank, and his cult, to spend an evening with someone else’s designs, and we both knew that I would live to tell about it.
This beaten up hollyhock is there to remind me now of my past and of my future, but mostly of my past and I am sad about that. Gardens are so often designed with such sentimental tales attached to their owner’s plant choices and this often drives those among us “nuts” when nothing makes sense in the design or is too disorganized for us to understand what the person was thinking or saying. There is often order to such gardens, but is is not often apparent, or it is written in a language that we do not understand, or were never intended to understand. These gardens are the most private, since they do not communicate to us, and are written in code. They are the gardens meant for only a few, sometimes only one, and I am beginning to think that we are folk gardeners creating outsider art as we call it in the art world. This just may not be what I want to communicate though and I have been spending a lot of time thinking over this recently.
Sometimes I really struggle with what my garden is saying, if it is saying anything at all to others. Writing this has elucidated a great deal to me though and I look forward now to thinking about it some more. All of this was also stirred up by my still not having spun together a name for the place, because this  kind of a vision is really required and necessary at this point.
I guess it’s back to the midnight drawing board with the smoking panda up at the park above my house. That is unless they have banned graffiti from smoking too. Life is simply too short to make gardens so serious and staid.