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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Swanson's Nursery In December

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that visiting nurseries is one of my favorite activities. Seeing them dressed for the holidays is a double delight since we've started decorating for the season again after a 10 year hiatus following my mother's death.  My mother loved Christmas and enjoyed decorating everything in sight.  I can imagine her joy at seeing all of the festive baubles, glitter, and fun at these shops.  She lived in a fairly remote town of 700 people and, as you can imagine, shopping options were rather limited there.  It was with her joy that we visited Wight's Home and Garden, Sky Nursery, and Swanson's Nursery a couple of weekends ago.

Swanson's is a wonderful nursery at any time of year and one of the things I greatly admire about them is that even though they bring in reindeer and a camel, have various photo op areas, and feature a lot of holiday merchandise, their focus remains on plants.

Swanson's staff creates masterful combination pots!  How lucky we are to live in a climate that has winters warm enough for these plants to like this year round and cold enough to allow us to plant spring-flowering bulbs without having to refrigerate them.

Winters here are warm enough that we can have something blooming outside every month of the year.  Helleborus niger will be blooming until the Helleborus orientalis take over the floral duties.




Camellia sasanquas are in full swing now.


Vertical garden.

Jerry at Jungle Fever for years had a large  pot of Corokia cotoneaster, Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Niger,' and Arum italicum. The combination works very well as the tropical-looking, marbled foliage of the arum adds extra winter interest and when the bright red/orange seed spikes appear in the autumn, zowie!

It was kind of cold out so I didn't fully explore the tree and shrub areas.

In the indoor plant area, bromeliads given the kokedama treatment were hanging around. 

The largest Tillandsia xerographica I've ever seen (about a yard across) was perched above the extensive tillandsia collection.  That's one well-hung greenhouse!

I'd seen bromeliads in burlap drawstring bags before but never vrieseas like this that are usually fairly expensive.  At $7.95, they were a great buy.  Very tempting but I have some already both inside and in the greenhouse.

The cafe looked and smelled especially inviting on this brisk day. 


 Simple, beautiful all winter, masterful use of the lavender pot.  What's not to love?  

How do they keep coming up with these winning potted combinations? 



Speaking of fabulous foliage for winter interest, hardy cyclamen are favorites for their interesting leaf patterns

and variety of colors, like this beautiful silver that brightens shady spots beautifully.  

A saxifrage in  such glorious bloom now?  Must have but were there any in the sales areas?  Nope. Must be sold out.  My eyes will be peeled in the spring for this one.

Blue, red, and yellow a stunning color combination!


Aloe polyphylla from Little Prince of Oregon.  Do you suppose that the addition on the plant in the upper right came from the grower, was added by the nursery staff, or perhaps by a customer?


Obligatory poinsettia/amaryllis shot. Hey Californians who are having a hard time finding many varieties of these, I counted ten varieties while standing in line today at a grocery/a little bit of everything store (Fred Meyer.)



Heucheras are winning my heart one incredible leaf at a time.  Heuchera 'Electric Lime' is nearly solid chartreuse in the summer but as the weather cools, it takes on these stunning shades.

Now that it's legal here, it seems like pot shops are popping up everywhere.  This kind interests me more.

 I hope they get back to the North Pole in time for their big Christmas Eve flight.  Let's see there are two here, a couple at Watson's, and probably at least four more in the state.  Do you suppose Santa's team has fall training in Washington similar to the Arizona spring training of baseball teams?

Cute trees. 





These remind me a little of the do it yourself ornament craft kits that used to be very popular.   

It doesn't get much shinier than this!


This rather large contorted filbert (still in a nursery pot brought in from outside) with bird ornaments clipped to the branches was a favorite of mine.  It's difficult to see the effect in a picture because of all of the stuff in the background and this only captures a fraction of the whole.  In person, it was really swell.  The juxtaposition of the bare and gnarled branches with the shiny bright and richly colored birds was very effective. Much like the humming birds and other winter visitors that perch in the contorted filbert outside my kitchen window, they appear to be little bundles of grace and beauty sent to cheer us in the bleak midwinter.

This gazebo, with an added roof of some sort,  surely should live in my garden as it would go so well with the house.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Mossy, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...

 Time to pay for our purchases ('Angels in Water' narcissus for forcing, Thymes Frazier Fir candle and liquid hand soap, and a Kalanchoe daigremontiana)
 Happy weekend!


28 comments:

  1. Beautiful, thanks for sharing this bright and shining joy.

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  2. I enjoyed your funny comments this morning especially those about pot and pots and agree about the arrangements in pots. They're some of the best I've seen. I like the way the pot color was matched to the foliage color.

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    1. The skill of the designer(s?) at Swanson's who put these together is enviable! I've seen a lot of great plant combinations there over the years!

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  3. So festive, and yet still with plenty of beautiful plants. That gazebo would indeed look great in your garden, perhaps over the Danger Gardenette.

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    1. This is a great inside piece but outside, I'd want to see a roof on it which would block the light in the D.G. area. You have a good point, though it would look best there. Maybe the D.G. could move to the area where the topiary tree is.

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  4. It didn't occur to me until you pointed it out, and you are so right: Swanson's really do remain focus on plants all year long. Their pot displays are masterful. I have a number of saxifrage, but the that pink elf is a must. I'll be looking for it too next year.
    I was hoping to see the white gazebo on your purchase list...

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    1. P.S. I ditched all my Kalanchoes. They were true to their common name "mother of thousands" and were giving birth all over my carpet! how do you manage them?

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    2. I don't know if that gazebo was for sale but if it were, it would probably be too expensive for me. In the past, when my Kalanchoe got to me, I put them up for adoption. I'm thinking that this one will live in the greenhouse where it can drop babies all over the place without a problem. At Rare Plant Research in Oregon City, they use the offspring as sort of a ground cover in potted succulents & the effect is that of a bonsai with moss covered soil.

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  5. Ah ha. So that's why I didn't see any reindeer in Norway! :)

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    1. Yes, they saw your Norway posts, decided it was too cold there, and decided to spend the winter here instead.

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  6. We were at Swanson's last week to choose our Christmas tee and I noted the same "Pink Elf" saxifrage. So pretty!

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    1. It is a sweet thing. I wonder if it naturally blooms at this time of year or if it's some sort of greenhouse magic.

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  7. Wait, you like visiting nurseries?! LOL

    Ah PNW, so many plants available during winter. Stop complaining about how "cold" it is! ;) Around here you just see empty tables.

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    1. Shocking, isn't it - you'd never have guessed!
      We're so very lucky here but curmudgeons gotta curmudge!

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  8. I had to laugh, that right under these words "How lucky we are to live in a climate that has winters warm enough for these plants to like this year round and cold enough to allow us to plant spring-flowering bulbs without having to refrigerate them." were pots full of Phormiums. Have you forgotten our PKW's?

    That frog leg...haha! And the contorted filbert with bird ornaments...I love it and could see a branch from your tree brought inside and given the same treatment...

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  9. p.s. I'm so glad you're decorating for Christmas again!

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    1. PKW's never existed, they were just a fabrication of garden bloggers in the PNW, an attempt to dissuade people from moving here and lessen the envy that gardeners in other parts of the country have for us.

      I was thinking the same thing about the filbert! It's fun to haul some of the decorations out of the basement again.

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  10. So many enormous places full of holiday cheer in your area. Our nurseries have small indoor spaces so we're pretty much limited to the craft store for ideas. Your story about your mom's joy in the season is so sweet and makes your posts and story of decorating again even more special.

    Those glass cylinders with the trees are cool, I have collected so many of those over the years and tree scenes would be just the idea for them.

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    1. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. I ended up in this part of the country sort of by chance and am so grateful. Your cylinders would look great with tree scenes. I have a couple that I use for forcing paperwhites. They work well at holding those long stems upright.

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  11. Wonderful photos! I went to Swanson's today and was very pleased to see they still have many plants for sale. I LOVE visiting nurseries for a plant fix (my addiciton!) and hate seeing empty shelves in nurseries in wintertime. Today I admired these hardy Cyclamen (coum and pupurascens) and took home a Camellia 'Pink Icicle' that is ready to bloom. I love Swanson's!

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  12. I love Swansons for the same reasons you do -great plants and wonderful potted plant combinations. We didn't go there this year on our Christmas field trip because our guests are not especially plant people, but I could spent my whole visit just finding the plant filled pots.

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  13. Oh this is really something. I live in a land of big box store Christmas so this is fine art for me. Thanks!
    Those pots are something else. Brilliant, and so bright and lively on a drab December afternoon.
    Frank

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  14. Delightful pictures! I did not know wher the reindeer trained.­čśŐ

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  15. I'm still sighing over the $8 bromeliads...

    P.S. It's not nice to gloat over WA's poinsettia prowess.

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  16. OH! Those $8 Vriesea! I would have had to get that one in the middle. A nursery in Longview had some of those burlapped broms this summer, but they were all relatively blah Neoregelias. I keep wishing I could find some Vrieseas like those around here. I like the frog leg and Mossy the reindeer, too.

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  17. You always find the most interesting displays to share. Thanks for the inspiration! I need to get out to some of the garden centers and check out their indoor displays. Those trees (?) in the glass containers with lights are so festive!

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  18. Love those skinny little trees under the glass cloches. But it is killing me to look at those plants outdoors. I am thrilled to have no snow but to be able to see such things year round!

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.