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.

18 Responses

  1. Mark and Gaz says:

    Happy memories! Having the two nurseries side by side to visit on that day was a good idea as they complement each other with the contrast on the type of plants they sell.

  2. Alison says:

    Two great nurseries, I’m so lucky I live close enough to shop there occasionally, and I’m glad you enjoyed them. Great shot of the dragonfly! This seems to be the summer for them, I’ve never seen so many since I moved to the PNW. I think they like the heat.

  3. Ally says:

    I could have loaded my pickup at either of those nurseries, but I settled for two plants at Joy. I bought 2 eryngiums to add to my growing collection (now 4). I hope they survive in my garden. I was bummed about missing out on our photo op too. We should have done one with all the Texas peeps as well to include the Houston folks. Oh well, next time…

  4. TexasDeb says:

    Nurseries are such eye candy. The possibilities always seem endless, right up until I begin to read the tags indicating eventual size, the sun, soil and moisture requirements and then…sigh…reality sets in. Which is probably a good thing.

    Sorry you missed that group shot – always good to put smiles to familiar names online. Perhaps you’ll have a reunion lunch or nursery trip and get one then (hint hint!)?

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I guess I’m not much of a risk taker when it comes to buying plants because I always prefer to buy locally. Still, I see the appeal for others in buying a few treasures, just to see. But I’d rather spend on a special pot — or squid planter! —Pam

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I am so happy that you are a photographer as well as a gardener. I love seeing gardens through your lens.

  6. Scott Weber says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Pam! I find myself visiting Joy Creek at least once or twice a month, it seems…half the time to shop, the other half to take photos of the gardens throughout the seasons :-)

  7. These look like very tempting places. Beautiful.

    I agree with Texas Deb….reality sets in too soon, when the tag is read.

  8. Jean says:

    I’m glad you took pics of the landscaping at Joy Creek since I headed for the plant purchases instead! (Gail and Dee and I decided to try the same aster.) I bought an eryngium there, my first time to try one. I bought ‘Sapphire Blue’ because I loved the blue foliage. I really had fun at these two nurseries; just wish I hadn’t accidentally left my Cistus purchase behind!

  9. You have the best eye for a good shot, Pam. Having seen both of these nurseries when you did, I marvel at your ability to find THE interesting composition. My favorite of these is the one of the fir cones. Thanks, as always, for documenting a great experience.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Don’t you just want a bowl of those fir cones for a table, Vicki? I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures. Thanks for your kind words. :-) —Pam