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!

Swapping Plants, Feeding Friends, and the Gift of Seeds

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Regular weekly posts didn’t work out exactly—but c’est la vie.

I’ve learned a lot about relaxing when it comes to “being in control” while working with a hospice client for several months. I’m honored to have travelled that journey with the client, and I’m proud of the teamwork we accomplished as caregivers with the hospice nursing staff, but I needed a break, and now I have it.

No more 12-hour shifts for now unless they’re in my own garden—and back to regular posts.

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My hellstrip STILL hasn’t been cleaned up but it looks much better now. I really like what that randomly deposited shopping cart has done for the overall look of my street.

For a week or two I furiously amassed my annuals to get my baskets planted early, but I probably only made it 1/3 of the way through.

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I hope to have a red, orange and yellow back patio this summer. Today it dawned on me that it might be fun to hang a catnip plant back there too—out of paw’s reach.

At least I sort of had a plan this year. I see all of this now as part of a learning curve. My back has not been making this easy. I am listening to my body more now and I’ve been telling my mind to shut off more and more.

Then there is that random gem of a plant you find from time to time.

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Adiantum x mairisii.

This is a deciduous maidenhair fern that will be wonderful to plant out later. IMG_2291

As is regularly planned, there was a spring plant swap organized for garden bloggers in the area. I tried to have things ready, but I only could get so far.

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It was my great pleasure to take my neighbor Mindy. She technically lives several blocks away, and technically she’s in a different neighborhood, but she’s my neighbor. She’s been blogging for a long time too over at Rindy Mae and can this woman garden, and cook, and do tons of other things. Our other friend refers to her as Martha and that’s a compliment. She’s a multi-talented creative woman.

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Flowers that Mindy brought our hostess.

IMG_2295 The food at the swap was amazing and I can’t say enough about how much fun I had that day.

The company was as elucidating as ever and I enjoyed sitting back and relaxing. Every person is so unique and creative and has so much to offer in terms of their creativity. It could be overwhelming, but I see it as a wonderful community resource. Everyone is always willing to discuss gardening issues. You can’t find that just anywhere.

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The many plant plugs…

I rushed home to continue pushing hard in the garden to get things planted before the solo trip to the coast, but I had several long shifts so not everything ended up looking too pretty.

My arms were thrown up the the Universe and I proclaimed, “Set me free of this garden!”

Hitting the road after not having been out of Portland since February was just what this woman needed.

I borrowed the FIAT, packed up for an impromptu fundraiser dinner with friends, and skipped out of town just before Barack Obama arrived for a visit.

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A little piece of the Old World in the New World.

The trip lasted for several days and honestly I rested and cooked and spent some time with my dad before he returned home to Portland. I hadn’t been there since February so I spent a lot of time just staring out the window.

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A floral hostess gift for me.

On Saturday night I hosted the dinner and you can read about that over at Tangly Cottage Garden Journal. It was great fun to spend time with another garden blogger from outside of Portland and to hear how work had been going. I also got to meet a new plant friend. IMG_2441And he gave me seeds, rare, very rare, and special seeds. This kind of stunned me but I’m not going to let these precious little miracles escape me. I will germinate them and I will grow them well.

It was nice to return home to Portland, but I could have stayed away for at least another week. This past week I have been exhausted and I slept for nearly 24 hours yesterday, but I am happy. Quincy the Cat is at my feet. The garden is growing. I can hear my fountain, and the world is good, very good.

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Welcome to my riotous garden as seen from my front porch. I just love how you can barely see the wheel of the FIAT in the driveway.