Joy Creek and Cistus Nurseries: Portland Garden Bloggers Fling

After touring Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland, the two Fling buses headed out to scenic, agricultural Sauvie Island for our visits to two premier nurseries: Cistus and Joy Creek.

Cistus is a plant lover’s mecca, with rare and interesting plants from all over the world, including no small number that are quite at home in Austin, like these Yucca rostrata.

I am rarely tempted by plants when traveling, however, which makes me the odd woman out among plantaholic Flingers like my traveling companion Diana , browsing the plant tables on the right. Seattle-area blogger (and contributor to Lawn Gone!) Christina, whom I was excited to finally meet, seems to be directing Diana for a photo, or perhaps illustrating how large her euphorbia has grown. Like me, she’s an obsessive photographer on tour, always working a garden for the perfect angle.

Instead of plant shopping, I took photos of friends, including this one of Austin bloggers Laura (left) and Sheryl (right). In the middle is talented photographer Hoover Boo, as she’s known online, from southern California.

Two things to note: I am so proud to be part of the Austin garden bloggers, who totally rocked the number of bloggers from one city (aside from local bloggers) at the Fling. Shout-out to fellow Austinites Diana, Vicki, Caroline — all veteran Flingers — and newbies Sheryl, Laura, Ally, and Chris. Our group of 8 had a lot of fun, especially with former Portlander Sheryl as tour guide in the evenings, but one thing we forgot to do was take a group photo. Oh well, next time!

I was also delighted to run into former Austin blogger/designer and current Portland resident David Meeker, who was working the register at Cistus. What better way to teach oneself the ins and outs of gardening in Portland than to work in one of its best nurseries?

Cistus is great, but my favorite of the two nurseries is Joy Creek, purely for its rural charm and photogenic gardens that envelop a house belonging to one of the owners.

Sunny and shady gardens invite strolling and inspire plant purchases.

The sunny gardens are a fiesta of color. Beebalm…

…and croscosmia are two of my favorites.

I adore this ghostly eryngium too.

And these fir cones that resemble spooled cords.

Come on in and enjoy the gardens, says this open gate.

A golden walk between ligularia and acuba

Rudbeckia in sunset hues

I like this juxtaposition of eggplant-purple and chartreuse.

Shade was welcome on this surprisingly warm day. Temps the first two days of the Fling reached the upper 80s and low 90s (33C), but in the shade the low humidity kept things comfortable.

Clematis is a specialty of Joy Creek, and numerous varieties were displayed on wire trellises.

Such rich color

Fling friends: Brandon and Judy, Fling sponsors from Botanical Interests; and Gaz and Mark, all the way from England.

A local

A barn in back of the house serves as the retail area, where plants are appealingly displayed in vignettes on tables and on the ground. I’ll take the whole set, I wish I could have said.


Pink, yellow, and orange — electric!

Bloggers snatched up these birdhouses with roofs that can be planted — so chic.

Soon it was time to reboard the buses, stuffing plants into overhead bins or under seats, and head to our first private garden of the Fling.

Up next: The hillside splendor of Old Germantown Gardens. For a look back at my pre-Fling visit to Digs Inside & Out garden shop, click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Visit to Digs Inside & Out garden shop in Portland

When I heard that JJ De Sousa’s garden was on the itinerary for the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling, I excitedly planned a double-dose of her colorful, creative, offbeat style by arranging to visit her home-and-garden shop Digs Inside & Out.

Located on trendy Alberta Street (where my husband and I, pre-Fling, enjoyed a delicious lunch at Bollywood Theater PDX and dessert at Salt & Straw), Digs beckons with an eclectic and colorful assortment of tables, chairs, containers, and strangely beautiful accessories.

Take these light-bulb-head baby sconces, for example. Have you ever seen anything like them? Me neither. In fact, I was so fascinated by the store’s offerings that David had to seek refuge in a bar down the street while I poked around.

I could have brought home any number of chairs and pots — they were all wonderful. (I already own one of the vertically ridged pots, in red, which I picked up at Redenta’s in Dallas.)

Check out this wall display. Here’s what I lusted after at Digs: a tentacled squid planter!

How weirdly wonderful! Don’t they make you smile? I stared at them, wondering if I could bring myself to splurge on one and pondering how I could get it home. Update: These are made by Phoenix artist Diana Moulds (thanks, Jennifer, for the info).

While I thought it over, I kept browsing. JJ clearly loves orange! And doesn’t the wriggly snake picture remind you of the squid planters?

There was a definite goth element to the store, with its black-painted walls, writhing squids and snakes, skulls…

…baby heads…

…and ghostly ceramic hands outstretched on shelves throughout the store.

I liked this green-framed console with a natural, wood-plank shelf.

And the agave pillow and dusky purple chairs.

And the colorful metal hearts on the wall.

Well, everything, really.

Did I get myself a squid planter, you may be wondering? Yes, I did! I bought a tabletop version in blue that I could pack home in my bag, and it’s sitting in my living room in wriggly-legged splendor.

I can’t wait to show you JJ’s personal garden, in which you’ll recognize a number of items from her shop. She obviously buys what she loves.

Up next: A tour of the display gardens at bucolic Joy Creek Nursery and Cistus. For a look back at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, our first garden stop on the Fling, click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Nursery Visit: Civano Nursery in Tucson, Arizona

After my drive-by of Civano’s candy-colored homes and front-yard gardens while in Tucson earlier this month, I popped into Civano Nursery for a look around. Yep, that’s right. The lucky residents of Civano have a full-service nursery in their neighborhood, within wagon-pulling distance of many of the homes.

The nursery is located at the entrance to the neighborhood, with views of rugged mountains over a wall that shields the grounds from highway road noise.

Colored walls are the perfect backdrop for desert plants like cactus and succulents.

Civano has such plants in abundance.

Agaves and cactus

More beautiful agaves

Palo verde, the ubiquitous native tree that was blooming all over Phoenix and Tucson while I was there.

Mexican fence post cactus

I’d have to grow this if I lived there.

Drought-tolerant perennials like guara are also offered.

Lots of reasons to plant them

Pocket gardens throughout the grounds are planted with desert-loving plants, like this ‘Sharkskin’ agave and ‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia.

I love when nurseries plant display gardens. They give you such great ideas for what might work in your own garden.

Red yucca, a Texas native

Here’s something you don’t see in central Texas: bundled ocotillo branches for sale

You can make them into fences that might even take root and grow.

Here’s one that screens a row of electrical panels.

Purple prickly pear against a pistachio-colored wall — such great color and texture

Colorful accessories seem to be vital in the desert, and Civano offers a nice selection of pottery.

Or maybe you’d prefer muted pottery if your wall is painted. I love this!

They also sell pre-planted containers…

…as well as southwestern-style garden art.

A large, covered patio offers space for garden speakers and their audiences.

A tree-size saguaro grows in a streetside display garden — symbol of the Arizona landscape.

If you garden in the desert, you’ve gotta create some shade. This expansive arbor is something to aspire to.

Or maybe you’d be lucky enough to have a shade tree. The nursery is family-friendly, with a play area and also several animal pens, shown here, which house goats, chickens, and even a tortoise.

Civano is a wonderful neighborhood nursery that shows how beautifully you can garden in the desert. I ran into the owner, Chris Shipley, whom I’d met at the Garden Writers Association conference two years ago. He was the one who gave me the Indian mallow (Abutilon palmeri) that I packed home in my suitcase. How about that? I already have a Civano plant at home! (That is, if it survived our freezing winter; it’s still too soon to say.) Chris is a friendly, knowledgeable guy, and I enjoyed visiting his family-run nursery.

Up next: A series of posts about Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, where the Chihuly exhibit was on display

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.