Working at Cistus Nursery—An Introduction

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IMG_5295My job at Cistus Nursery started on September 26 of last year. Since then I’ve worked there one day per week (every single week) and I’m genuinely excited to see my 1-year anniversary up ahead. Owner (and friend) Sean Hogan asked me to join the team last August to work solely with seeds and I was more than happy to join as a propagator. In all honesty, it’s my first nursery gig, and for the most part, I knew what I was doing going into this but I’ve also learned so much and am grateful for this unique opportunity I’ve been given. IMG_6045One thing that’s remained constant over the years has been my love of and interest in seeds and their importance in our world. For many years I ignored the urge to embrace them fully (having swapped biology for art history in college because of a boy) but collecting and sowing seeds creates a kind of diversity in our natural world which can’t be beat. Obviously I dropped the boy (ok, he dropped me) but eventually I got back on track and have ended up right where I needed to be in the first place. IMG_5373Nowadays I’m transplanting seeds I sowed in the fall and winter while propagating annuals and succulents around the nursery. The other member of the propagation crew (other than Sean) is in charge of the more serious cuttings and he’s also the one who deals with collections Sean has made himself in the wild or otherwise.

If you’re unaware of what the nursery is known for, Arctostphylos are kind of our thing but we also have thousands of other rare and unusual plants along with some comfortable familiar ones.

Personally, I’m rather fond of the Pelergonium collection so have been learning to take cuttings of them by selecting ones we should make more of and watching over them as they grow.

IMG_3789In addition to the propagation I’ve been taking photos around the place to share on Instagram. This is one of the Arctostaphylos plants we have but I cannot recall which one. I’m horrible when it comes to their ID. I just cannot wrap my brain around them all.

But I’ve now germinated them from seed and my babies are growing well. Not everyone can say that and I have to say I’m proud of that accomplishment. Germinating seeds makes me so happy. Have I gotten that across yet?

IMG_4217Sometimes I see the most amazing combinations as I go from one spot to another in the nursery. We have more than a handful of greenhouses.

Seen here is a Corokia x virgata ‘Orangerie’ intertwining with Clematis x cartmanii ‘Joe’. Aren’t they just lovely together?IMG_3787Other times I find things that are just a mystery to me. Since this one is rare even in its native range I didn’t beat myself up too much because of my ignorance. Seen it before? Maybe? Well, if not, and if you’re like me, you might need help. This is Neviusia alabamensis or Alabama snow-wreath.

IMG_5730.jpgIt’s a lot of hard working at a nursery but if you love plants it’s worth the effort. Cistus Nursery is a fun place to spend my time and it’s truly a place to learn about plants. It feels like a plant library most days—and I’m just talking about the back greenhouses! Just walking through our retail area is enough for most folks.

That’s one of the reasons I kept this first post about my job as Cistus “Seedstress” rather simple. I don’t want to overwhelm and bore you with the details. I will try very hard to post more about the joys of working there as time goes on but for now, this is just a little introduction.

If you haven’t been there before, come check the place out. If you have been there, come see us again—over and over. I can assure you that there is always something different to see.

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Each week I’ve been returning home after work, being dropped off by my friend and co-worker Alex, and these two are waiting for me in the front window. I do what I can to bring home some kibble.

Thanks for dropping in and reading my post!

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2015: Romance Blossoms (Day 2)

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IMG_3282I’ve lived through another day of complete and total exhaustion and yet here I am up late in the hotel room posting a blog post when I should be sleeping.

Earlier this morning I attended the annual Tweetup. During this brief event the lights are turned up over the display gardens at the show and the garden media is set loose to take some photos.

Since it’s so late, I won’t write a lot. I really only wanted to get these little show details out there. What do you think?

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Interesting way to use some more of those corks I’ve collected in my kitchen. (A Garden Built with Love/Adam Gorski Landscapes)

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(A Garden Built with Love/Adam Gorski Landscapes)

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(A Garden Built with Love/Adam Gorski Landscapes)

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Beautiful Hosta. I thought I wrote down the name but cannot find it now. (Will You? A Romantic Proposal in the Park/Fancy Plants Gardens, Inc.)

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(Love the Space You’re In/Susan Browne Landscape Design)

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(Love the Space You’re In/Susan Browne Landscape Design)

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Beautiful looking glass Sansevieria. (Love the Space You’re In/Susan Browne Landscape Design)

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Cute “dresses” for photo ops. (Picture Yourself on Azalea Way/Washington Park Arboretum)

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(Knotty and Nice…Here’s to We Time/Karen Stefonick Design)

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(Birds do it… Bees do it…/West Seattle Nursery)

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(Birds do it… Bees do it…/West Seattle Nursery)

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(Romantic Folly/ Pamela Richards Garden Design)

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I love my salmon. (Romantic Folly/ Pamela Richards Garden Design)

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Great container wall. (Romantic Folly/ Pamela Richards Garden Design)

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(A Moment to Remember/ Nature Perfect Landscape and Design)

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(Over the Moon/Assoc. of Professional Landscape Designers—WA Chapter)

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(Over the Moon/Assoc. of Professional Landscape Designers—WA Chapter)

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(The Root of True Romance: Beautiful Chaos… Love, Art, Nature/Elandan Gardens)

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(Three Phases of Love… Young, Passionate, Forever/ WA Association of Landscape Professionals)

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Hard to see from the picture, but it’s a bike. (A ‘Bio-Cycle’ Built for Two/ Evergreen Landscaping & Designs)

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Fountain designed by Douglas Walker. (The Romance of Steampunk/ Whitby Landcare and Design)

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The display gardens were too numerous to capture so I’m jumping to some retail now. At large garden shows such as this one you’ll find all kinds of things for the outdoor and indoor gardening lifestyles.

From vases such as the one on the left, to handmade glass work and other objects to ornament your garden with—there is something for everyone. (I’ve purchased from the booth on the right in the past (Bedrock Industries. Check under their tab: Gift & Garden).

I think I might just go back to purchase this number 12 for the front of the house tomorrow. Sure, it has something to do with football, but it’s also my house number!

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There are many rustic, recycled, and upcycled items too. Some are made by hand, and some are likely mass produced. No matter what, there is really something for everyone. IMG_0851

After the Tweetup I was exhausted but I met up with a landscaper friend to help him select a few plants for clients. This Trifoliate Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) was something we had to get. These are such great plants. IMG_3206

As I started to get drowsy I turned to go back to the hotel. Just walking back, through the displays, you’ll find the sweetest plants to admire. I very much want to get one of these Variegated Brugmansia.    
     IMG_3281 I’m also a sucker for a Geranium that’s become a standard. IMG_3284

More than anything though, I now have my heart set on an Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’.IMG_0854Walking back to the hotel I looked up at the Rainer Tower building across the street. From my room—for the past two year—I’ve admired this building. Yet, I only just discovered it was designed by U of W alum Minoru Yamasaki, and it just so happens that he’s also known for having been the lead architect of the World Trade Center.

Gardening is a wonderful thing, and design is all around us. Sure, I’m having a wonderful time in Seattle, but looking at this building brings along with it a somber feeling for those connected to his other work, a love of freedom in my country, and a sense of awe for what we’re able to design and build. I hope that in the years to come we’ll build again, and stop the destruction.

We garden to forget these things. I know. But with the building there outside my window as I sleep, it’s difficult for me not to think of its power.

And with that, it’s to bed, and I’ll be back at the garden show in the morning…

Wordless Wednesday: I giardini delle due donne

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Climbing Monkshood (Aconitum episcopale) grown from seed.
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) in its new home.
Pink Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua) grown from seed. Sadly the plant was eaten a bit this year.
The backyard.
Tradescantia ‘Bridal Veil’.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).
Fuchsia ‘Celia Smedley’.
Unknown Rosa.
Unknown cabbage (Brassica).
Notorious female feline.
Potted geraniums (Pelargonium), with St. Francis statuary, at the home of an Italian woman.