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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We Finally Made it to Cistus

Back on the plant play date with Danger, we left Lila and the Danger Garden to visit Cistus and pick up my aeonium collection prize from the Aeonium Challenge.  The collection is so wonderful and in a container decorated by noted plantsman, Sean Hogan, himself that it'll get it's own post later. Here are some impressions of this visit.  I began visiting Cistus many years ago after reading about it in Stephanie Feeney's The Northwest Gardener's Resource Directory, a fabulous book that listed every nursery from British Columbia to Northern California and shared Stephanie's impressions from her visits.  Unfortunately, MS Feeney was taken from us all too soon.  In the last edition of the book (1996, I think) internet resources were added.  Anyway, I've greatly admired this nursery for years and before I knew anything else about the Portland area, I'd drive down just to visit Cistus, fill the car (it wasn't yet named plant mobile) with plants and drive home.  See previous posts from recent years here

Beautiful Eucalyptus tree near the parking area. 

 Dudleya brittonii

Dyckia platyphylla

One of my favorites, Agave americana mediopicta alba. I would have taken one home but there are already two in the hoard.  You see, one was purchased as a back up plant because I didn't know if the first would survive.  


Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue,' a Cistus introduction. 

Oh, that giant cycad is a beautiful sight. 
 "No Plant Is Safe" from the wagon of a plant addicted shopper?   From the four seasons?  

Giant palm fronds.  

Is there any happier sight for a plant addict than a nursery packed with unusual plants on a warm summer day?

One of the Billbergia nutans 'Variegata' on the table wanted to come home with me.  Maybe it'll get to stay with me longer than it's non-variegated couisin that I gave away a couple of years back.

There are more Crepe Myrtles planted around Portland than there are further north.  I've seen some bloom beautifully in more exposed sunny areas here but in my mostly shady garden, I only get leaves.

Cistus is a place that invites discovery, pulls one down a path or around a corner to see what might be there, and then rewards the journey with visuals like this.

Protea cynaroides.  Oh so tempting. 

Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'    

Agave americana 'Cornelius' 

Yucca rostratas (or is that Yuccas rostrata?)  Anyway, mine will look like this in about five more years.

More green goodness. 

Blue sky, golden bamboo foliage (not to be confused with golden bamboo  or heavenly bamboo which is Nandina and not a bamboo at all.)

 Visiting Cistus is always exciting but what made this visit even more special, besides the ever-present Danger, was that we got to go into the production area, a first for me, not for the dangerous one.

But the sign says....

Nice hips!

It's always a special treat to see the collections and propagation areas of plantsmen/plantswomen that one admires.  In the course of that week I'd visited Far Reaches Farm, Windcliff (posts to come)  and now Cistus and been allowed to peek "behind the curtain" at each of these operations run by world-renowned plantsmen.  If you're not a plant nerd, this is the equivalent of being able to go backstage to meet your favorite three rock stars and sit in on rehearsals of the same all in one week.

Do you want to pull that weed from between these prickly characters?

The multi colored flag coding, the sparse labeling because most plants here are known, the hot air of the hoop houses, the roar of the crowd.  Oh wait, that's something else.

Aeonium 'Starburst' is a lovely thing!

I really want one of these but  don't have the heart to make one myself . Isn't it interesting? 

Senecio cristobalensis, I presume?  I got one of these from Cistus years ago. 
 Manihot grahamii has such groovy foliage.  I need to find a better place for mine next year as it never made it out of it's winter storage spot in the greenhouse.

I have Dichroa febrifuga, some with blue blooms and one with blooms a little lighter but this vibrant pink was new to me.  The label reads Dichroa versicolor.  For further confusion and entertainment click here.

We finally arrive at the office at the back of the entire operation to visit with Sean and, of course, outside there were more faboo plants.

Fasticularia bicolor had been on my list for quite a while and just a few days before, I'd found one that had just been put out that morning at Far Reaches.  Seeing this specimen in Sean's collection made me even happier to have found one!
What a treat to see all of this!  Thank you Loree and Sean for this special opportunity!


  1. Oh man, that is one fabulous looking nursery. Plus all those sharp, pointy plant that you and Loree love. There are very few things that grow here that have that much drama. Well, they have a different drama but I am a sucker for all those spikey blues.

  2. Oh, it looks like this day was the most wonderful treat. How cool is that white Dudleya? I want one. No, I don't. Oh, I do.

  3. Behind-the-scenes access is even better than an audience with the queen or pope.

  4. The giant cycad is so awesome. I wish I could grow it in North Seattle. In the first "behind the scene" picture there is an unusual plant (top center/right): it looks like a redish echeveria on steroids. What is it?

  5. What a cool treat seeing behind the scenes at a favorite nursery. Fasticularia bicolor is a great color. Love the rock star analogy.

    The dead Aeonium could be in my garden as the plant simply won't grow well here.

  6. Wow. Wonderful. Loved the pictures.

  7. You who live in or "near" Portland need to post about some ho-hum or even crappy nurseries. These stellar ones are making us envious! (And I've actually been to this place once -- those who haven't had that chance must really be feeling left out!)

  8. Congrats Peter on your win, just took a quick look, the entries are stunning. Love your shot of the eucalypt top photo, and the other shots - this is really tempting fate. Must visit native nursery soon.

  9. Congrats on winning the challenge, Peter! Great post on Cistus, too. I haven't been there since I left at the end of June. I think it's about time for a visit.

  10. If the bright blue skies in your photos are credited, it appears that you had perfect weather too! I love that Aeonium 'Stardust', which I've never seen before.

  11. Suddenly I want to go back again...

  12. This must be paradise for you, Peter.

  13. So glad you brought the camera to your behind-the-scenes access. I thought the dichroa might be a drier substitute for hydrangea here, but I was wrong. That grape vine was on the pergola for years, incredibly stunning this time of year when it was backlit. Jeez, you know you're getting old when any visit to a nursery is a walk down memory lane!


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