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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Prickly Visit to Cistus Nursery

The plant mobile seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to stopping at nurseries.  Try though I might to control the car, when it's near Portland, it stops at Cistus.  Since the vehicle was going to be in the parking lot for a while, we might as well explore, right?

The driveway garden is packed with treasures.  and is full of interest no matter what season it is

or which way you turn.

Although it's quite easy to go from the parking lot directly into the nursery, I usually find myself exploring our here for a while first.

The magic of the Pacific northwest with the influence of the warm Japanese ocean current always amazes me.  We're actually north of Toronto, North of Chicago, Vermont, Detroit, places with really cold winters and yet, many of us enjoy mild, albeit moist, "winters" that place us in USDA hardiness zone eight.  With sufficient drainage, we can grow cacti/ succulents and blue poppies.  It's cold enough to allow lilacs and peonies to bloom well and fall planted bulbs require no artificial chilling but it's warm enough to grow some sub tropical plants.

The cacti growing area,  covered mostly to keep the rain out, called my name. 

Here's "On the Trail" from the Grand Canyon Suite by Grofé which always runs through my head when visiting this area of the nursery.  

These are mostly stock plants and aren't labeled for sale but they're delightful to see, no? 

Such beautiful texture.  It's taken me a long time to appreciate the beauty of these prickly characters.


Smooth character.  Looks a bit like an alien with multiple eyes. 

These catch the light beautifully.  Will have to seek one out!

Golden sea anemones?

I have one of these and home mine looks this good someday!

These pudgy little opuntias tugged at my heart.  Aren't they sweet? 

So pretty.  

This has no prickly bits but has the nerve to flip people off.  You've got to admire such pluck in a plant!

 Time to move on but first, one last look.

Here we are at the entrance to the nursery, the house known as "The Big Top."  

It will only take twenty years or so for my Yucca rostratas to attain this size.  Fortunately, they're pretty cute as babies, too.

Opuntia fragilis var. denuda 'Potato' 

Surely you jest!  Leucadendron 'Jester'  so gorgeous, so not winter hardy in the ground here.

 Phormium 'Jester' a favorite because of the red and green color of the foliage.  So tempted to get another but the color never stays this intense for me so they stayed, looking so beautiful, on the table.

Abutilon 'Victor Reiter'  did jump into my cart.  Having encountered so many cool plants bearing Mr. Reiter's name, I became curious about who he was.  Here's what I found:  "Victor Reiter Jr (1903- 1989) was a San Francisco plant collector and a founder of the California Horticulture Society in the 1930s, and the Pacific Horticultural Foundation. He was the proprietor of the La Rochette nursery in San Francisco and with his father Victor Reiter Sr he created many award winning fuchsias. His efforts garnered him a gold metal at the 1939 world fair on Treasure Island. He ended his nursery business in the early 1960's retiring due to the city government notifying him that such agrarian businesses would not be licensed in residential areas. The nursery would ship up to 50,000 seedlings a year in the late 1950's. His later efforts as a hobbyist brought many new plants to his friends in the trades. He is known for hybridizing echeveria, abutilons, Huchra, and thymes, just to mention a few. He was quoted as saying 'show me an interesting plant, and I want to grow it!"

This rather large leaf belongs to Abutilon 'Tangerine Mist' 

The Tom was along on this trip and wanted to show me this cool pathway through a variety of bamboos.  Usually, there are "employees only"  signs hanging at the entrances to this area but on this day there were none so we explored.

What a great space!

Staying straight on the path leads out to the road.

Taking a right leads around the front /side of the nursery.  There were tons of great plants back here waiting to be labeled.  Seems that these were being readied for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon after hours event that would be taking place here in just a couple of hours.

I got permission to purchase a couple of swell things from back here.  

Back under the big top, I saw some familiar faces arriving for the HPSO event. One member  had found a Cordyline 'Electric Flash' (stunning beauty!) which hadn't yet been priced.  I considered joining just to purchase one and to stay for the tour to be led by the amazing Sean Hogan.

However, the road home called and there will surely be other opportunities to obtain that sweet plant. Leaving it also gives me an excuse to visit again!


  1. Thanks for sharing your visit to Cistus. It's been a while -- maybe a year -- since I was there. I thought you had given up on cactus because of the glochids?

  2. A (virtual) visit to Cistus is always a treat. Those cholla catch a lot more than light!

  3. It's always a good day to visit Cistus, thanks for taking us along!

  4. Today's post was a complete experience: music, history lesson and of course the pictures. I didn't realize your plant mobile is a "she", Go figure :-D
    The driveway garden is so inviting, no one could resist exploring it. Loving the "pricklies" would take me much longer although I appreciate your enthusiasm for them. Abutilon 'Victor Reiter' on the other hand we are in total agreement on!

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  6. Cistus = happiness, to be sure! Glad you guys got to stop there, too! Thanks for the info on Victor Reiter, I did not know and learned something. Cool!

  7. So your car is an enabler, is it? Thanks for the Cistus tour. I don't think I realized just how big that nursery is on my earlier photo tours of the place. You do "need" Cordyline 'Electric Flash' - I have 2 and it's a really nice and surprisingly drought tolerant plant.

  8. Wonderful memories of Cistus brought back!

  9. So many wonderful, exotic plants. I am not into growing cactus, but I do find them fascinating.

  10. Sure, blame the car. Ha! I bet that spineless cactus has an attitude from all the other cacti making fun of it.

  11. I cling to the hope Linda Cochran inspired when she blogged about Yucca rostrata, that they weren't as slow growing as we all assumed. I forget the number of years she cited. And I just purchased a small-ish Y. linearifolia that won't see a trunk for some years either. It's a terrible thing to live without hope! Thanks for the great memories, Peter.

  12. I always love Cistus posts. Nice to see that last shot, showing the beauty of the Sauvie Island landscape: a reminder that the drive to get there is part of the experience.


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