Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nursery Hopping Fun!

"There are few places where we can spend money in the spring and receive as prompt and high a return as in the garden."
Nils Sundquist, Sundquist Nursery

We’ve been having a mild winter here, albeit it a tad wet. But who’s complaining when you look at the rest of the country’s weather woes? It’s an El Nino weather year for us here in the Pacific Northwest. The snow pack in the mountains is reportedly low this year but since there is some and since we love to snowshoe, we packed our bags, grabbed our snowshoes and headed north for a couple of days to see the snowy sights offered by Mount Baker. Lucky us, a sunny day, 10 inches of new snow and the addition of brother-in-law’s company, the snowshoeing was fabulous.

As we often do when visiting other cities, we checked out a couple of local nurseries too. Previously, I scouted out a few online that looked interesting. And naturally I found a treasure. Three crowns of Jersey Knight asparagus, ready to plant next to Mary Washington in the veggie garden. Yep, like a kid in a candy store when I visit cool nurseries. Hubby is such a good sport when it comes to my plant addiction.

I just love nursery hopping road trips! This photo is of the newly renovated antique greenhouse of Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon, WA. We stopped by on our way home from this snowshoeing trip. If you are ever nearby you simply must visit. It is truly one of my favs. The summer of 2007 hubby was going to be gone for a week so I took myself on a solo trip to Oregon just to visit some of their local nurseries. I visited seven, some VERY rural and met the nicest people. What fun! Just me, the Mini Cooper, a modest little plant budget the mastercard, a suitcase, hotel reservations for two nights and the prospect of plants, plants, and more plants. A Mini Cooper can hold an amazing amount of treasures…don’t let the ‘mini’ moniker fool you! Each nursery often has its own specialty, so by hopping around you can find some of the most unusual plants that you may never find if you just go to the same nursery all the time. One of the plants I found on the trip to Oregon is a true Jasmine vine Jasminum officinale “Fiona Sunrise”, unusual in that it is hardy to USDA zone 8 and has golden foliage. Truly, I’ve never seen this vine at any other nursery. The foliage is a great color to draw your eye if you intend to plant it on a fence at the back of the garden where it would normally go unnoticed like I did. There it is a nice backdrop to the darker green leaves of Canna ‘Ermine’, they look great together. Did I plan it that way? Nah, as mostly happens in my garden it just worked out that way, much to my surprise. I saw the plant, had to have the plant, bought the plant….I’ll figure out where to put it later. And Jasmine fragrance…ahhh…need I say more?

As I’ve mentioned before, I save the plant labels in a box. Not only because I like to keep the record of the needs of the plants currently in the garden, I’ve also started to write the year I planted it and nursery I bought it from. That way if I want the plant again but can’t find it locally I know where I bought it. Plus, seeing the location often brings back pleasant memories of past trips. I also write the year I planted it because it’s helpful to be able to tell an admirer (of the plant ;)) how long it took to fill in its current spot in the garden. If I were more organized with the labels I’d do as reader Shari suggests in her comment following that post. As it is, my ‘organization’ consists of a box where I dig through a heap of labels to find the one I want. Shari’s way would be better!

What far and away excursions have you made to find some of your garden’s treasures? If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend it.

In bloom in my garden today: Corylopsis veitchiana (Winter Hazel), Hepatica, Brunnera, Heather, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Daphne caucasica, Cyclamen coum, Galanthus elwesii (snow drops), crocus, primrose (double English), Sarcococca confusa, hellebore

Author’s photo


Shari B. (FitFeat) said...

Wow, thank you for remembering that idea -- whether I'd actually make the time to do it is another story altogether! Apparently I can't even find the time to read my favorite blogs until 3 days after they are posted!!! (Sorry I'm late!)

Your nursery hopping trips sound like SO much fun! And I can TOTALLY see you buzzing around in a Mini!

I haven't made any excursions for the sake of seeking out garden treasures, but I LOVE to admire plants in different climates from mine. Like when we visit Seattle and even the TREES have greenery growing on them, I'm just not used to seeing that. When I was in Mich for that road trip with my mom, I found this meadow FULL of some sort of low fern - it felt like you were in a green lake, so pretty! And last, I ADORE looking at palm trees and cactus (because that means I must be in a WARM climate at the time!!)

Tracy Zhu said...

You made me nostalgic for road trips. It's been a long time!

I'm intrigued by your jasmine and whether it's as hardy as they say. It has one of my favorite scents. I hope you'll update us later on how it fares.

Joan said...

Hi Shari,
You and me both on the palms! I love them and if I lived in a warmer clime I'd have some for sure! We can grow a few around here but they don't look like the beauties in CA!
That MI meadow sounds lovely and you should check out Tracy's's got an awesome pix of mushrooms growing on a mossy branch!

Joan said...

Hi Tracy,
Well it survived last winter which as you recall was a record breaker chill! I got it at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Isl, OR I don't recall it blooming tons last year...I've just piled a heap of fresh compost on it but should probably mix in some rock phosphate this year. The leaf buds are just now breaking out. If you are just after the scent you could go for the easier to find Trachelospermum jasminoides...aka Star Jasmine, not a true jasmine but evergreen and flowers and scent exactly like jasmine. This one can take over so give it room. So far the true jasmine is quite well behaved but only 3 years in the garden so we'll see!

Tracy Zhu said...

I misread the post and thought the jasmine was a more recent acquisition, but if it's lived three years I concede its hardiness!

I have two large grape trellises that need something to climb on them, so I'm mulling over my options. They are both near doorways so anything with a nice strong fragrance is a plus. One of the trellises is partially shaded. Jasmine is a possibility, but I welcome other suggestions!

Joan said...

Hi Tracy,
Sorry it took a while to get back to you, I had to give this some thought. I have 8 vines currently to cover up fencing and it’s hard to pick a favorite.
1. Wisteria, sun, deciduous, fragrant, requires a lot of maintenance or will take over
2. Solanum crispum glasnerium (Blue Potato Vine) sun, pt shade, semi evergreen, blooms literally May till Dec/Jan or an artic freeze, hummers love it,
3. Schisandra rubriflora (Strawberry vine), sun, pt shade, deciduous, interesting red flowers but really slow to start for me, so I can’t recommend it yet
4. Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine) sun, pt shade, fragrant, evergreen, can take over, can get black sooty mildew
5. Parthenocissus henryana (Silver Vein Creeper) sun, beautiful leaves, deciduous, lovely red fall color,
6. Clematis (sun, pt sun), many varieties, some deciduous one evergreen, each has different pruning reqs
7. Pyracantha, (sun, pt sun) not really a vine but I trained mine up to be one. Most of the growth on mine is at the top giving room to walk under if you have that kind of trellis. Evergreen, Winter berries for birds, lovely white spring blooms
8. The Jasmine I mentioned in the post. Sun, deciduous, fragrance, beautiful leaf color, hoping for more blooms.
9. Scarlett Runner Beans (sun)…believe it or not they have spectacular red flowers and the hummingbirds love them. The beans are awful…inedible in my opinion, I’d just use it as an annually planted vine from fresh seed each year. I had it one year and would do it again if space allows, but you’ve got to pick the beans to keep it blooming.

What’s nice about deciduous woody vines is they can be easily pruned each spring to a main structure of branches to keep control. I do this with #’s 1,2,3,5,7. I love them all…HELP! I can’t pick!

Check them all out, most are easy to find except the Jasmine and maybe the Strawberry vine. I got it at Mc Comb Nursery in Sequim. Good Luck!!

Tracy Zhu said...

Joan, I thought I posted a response by I don't see it so I may have just dreamed it! Thank you so much for all the good ideas for my trellis, I will let you know which direction I go with it. I'm especially intrigued by the runner beans idea.

Joan said...

Yea! I REALLY do want to know what you end up doing. Such fun!