Sunday, August 30, 2009

Farwest Trip: Sean Hogan and Cistus Nursery

The highlight of my trip down to Portland had to be my stay with Sean Hogan and Nathan Limprecht. They kindly let me stay over two night while I was down there and I couldn't have been more comfortable, more welcomed, and well, just plain spoiled!

The first night was an awesome party they threw with at least 250 people attending, flowing in and out, with many familiar faces such as garden and writer Lucy Hardiman of Perennial Partners, friends from the Miller Garden Richie Steffen and his partner Pick Peterson, Andre Suske from T & L Nursery, and even well known garden designer and nurseryman Thomas Hobbs, of Southlands Nursery, made an appearance. "Where was Dan Hinkley and Martha Stewart?" I wondered. Gosh...there were many other people who looked familiar and also new faces of wonderful people I had the pleasure of chatting with and getting to know.

After the chaos of plant driven geeks and freaks, I had some down time to chat with Sean, Nathan and a new colleague, George Hull, a friendly and knowledgeable plantsman from Arizona who was also staying with Sean and Nathan.
George Sean Riz Nathan Sean doesn't need much of an introduction to the Pacific Northwest gardener. His Cistus Nursery has got to be the most sought after refuge for plantaholics worldwide and the vast diversity of plants he's grown and acquired over the years, and the knowledge he has about all of them, is simply astounding! He wrote a great book on broadleaf evergreens called, "Trees for all Seasons" published by Timber Press.

Nathan Limprecht is a fellow Next Generation Gardener who just blew me away when I first met him just a few years ago. A trained floral designer and a keen eye for unique and outrageous plants, he has brought so much to Cistus and to Sean; it was heart warming to see those two interact as it seems they've found a good balance between work and home life (both consumed by plants!). I dubbed Nathan as one of my best customers here at Landwave because of his curiosity for plants, his eagerness to learn, and his desire to purchase a plant that's not even fully rooted into the nursery container, but will still pay full price for it (hahah...j/k)! He must simply be in heaven working at Cistus!

Cistus desert
The display gardens are simply breathtaking and easily overwhelming at Cistus, even to the experienced gardener! Main House view
Plants from all around the world are represented and upon entering the main sales house, you continue to hold your breath as you witness the wide assortment of choice plants for sale (and the cute guy watering them that morning).

The special treat for me was going with Sean through their production houses and private poly tunnels to see their "works in progress". Wonderful hardy Begonias and Scheffleras made my jaws drop and their selections of my new obsession, Asian Mahonia species, made my trip down to Oregon feel like Christmas!. Check out my Flickr page so I don't inundate this blog with pictures!

Sean Riz
I want to thank Sean for his hospitality and his generosity (as he gave me a handful of treasures to grow on and evaluate, which includes this rare Mahonia eurybracteata I'm holding).

While the Farwest Show was kind of a bust, getting to spend time with wonderful friends and fantastic plants was totally worth it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Farwest Trip: Amazing Grasses in Estacada, OR

Amazing Grasses with Jon Evers in Estacada, OR.

I met Jon shortly after I came back from China when he attended a lecture I gave for the Northwest Perennial Alliance. Boy, was I thrilled to meet another young nurseryman, but I was more excited to meet a fellow avid gardener and a really kind young man who's become a good friend.

Jon has really opened my eyes to appreciate a group of plants that are relatively low care and can create dramatic effects in the landscape. Ornamental grasses come in a wide array of forms and sizes and since you're not relying strictly on flowers, they are versatile and fairly easy to manage.

Approaching his home and nursery, Amazing Grasses entranceyou are welcomed by two guards of pampas grasses (Cortaderia 'Icalma') that gently sway in the breeze and define the entrance to his garden, home and nursery. Cortaderia IcalmaPampas grass is known to be problematically invasive in various areas of the US, but this selection is fairly behaved in the Pacific Northwest. He's only been in this property for a little over 3 years, but the work he's done in that amount of time has been exceptional! Jon with PennisetumsJon has a great eye for composition, this simple planting of Pennisetum with Sedum caught my eye as he explained which cultivars he used. Grass and Sedum composition Here he used a form of Pennisetum alopecuroides and Sedum 'Matrona' to create a dramatic display that can actually look good year round! It's a drought tolerant planting requiring very little water once established as well.

Cortaderia centerpiece
Here's the entire composition with the Cortaderia 'Icalma' in the center.

Here are some other scenes from his garden:

Pennisetum orientalis in full bloom.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster screen
The popular Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' used effectively as a fence or screen.

Grasses in the Landscape
A view of his main border.

Jon's operation is still quite small, but he has a poly house full of various grasses and roof garden plants that he's been producing.

Jon labels plants
He keeps quite busy as he's a family man as well with a young five year old that's also a curious little gardener!
Jon with kids
It was so encouraging to see his son, Cody, and his niece, Bella, poke around in the greenhouse. Cody has his own little section of the nursery where he started all sorts of seeds, stuck sedum cuttings with his dad and Jon tells a story of Cody pointing to a large variegated grass and saying "Arudo donax 'Variegata'!!!


Jon and his family used to live up here in Washington in Maple Valley, but decided to relocate to Estacada three years ago. I'm glad to see that they've adapted well to their new surroundings and I hope Jon continues his wonderful work. It's been a challenge getting his business underway with the economy and rural location for retail and the wholesale market is even tougher to break into, but he obviously loves what he does and is thinking about the next stage as a fellow "next generation gardener".

Riz and Jon 1


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Greetings from Farwest

actually, greetings from the house of Sean Hogan, owner of the famous Cistus Nursery in Sauvie Island, OR.

I drove down to Portland to visit friends, colleagues and to attend the annual Farwest Horticultural Trade Show being held at the Oregon Convention Center.

I typically hate long drives, but having a far more reliable vehicle and having turned down invitations to visit, I felt compelled to come down, take some time off of my usual work and just take it easy. I'll always be doing plant stuff, but without the added stresses of work, clients, and a home garden that's been desperate for some attention for quite some time.

I had registered to just see the exhibits and visit with the vendors this time around, but I was a bit disappointed in what was being offered. While my primary focus is on plants, no one seemed to have anything that I absolutely must have or have to buy in to sell. Perhaps I'm just being more stingy on my finances and know that there are plants that I really can live without (HA!....haven't hit up Cistus Nursery

So, the show has really been about meeting up with people I've met in the past, meet new people to build on my network of growers who "speak my botanical lingo" and perhaps learn something new about a piece of equipment I can't afford.

I'm such a little guy compared to a lot of these big growers and vendors here, but my ID badge states that I'm in "Research/Education" vs. having a real specific title. According to some people I meet and chatted with today, they feel like the smaller growers are the ones actually thriving during this tough economy while bigger growers are going bankrupt. It's hard to gauge if this is really true, but I'd like to think that the interest is still there and the industry will continue to progress and move forward.

There's still lots to see and do while I'm down here. I'm hoping to visit my friend Jon Evers of Amazing Grasses who's been a bit down about poor sales this season, I'd like to offer him some moral support in the hopes that things turn around for him and it would be nice just to catch up.

Of course I plan on hitting Cistus, going back to Farwest to visit vendors I missed today and collect more literature and it'll be time to head back home.

More later!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What hort students will endure to see a famous garden!!

So tonight wraps up what has been a fun summer quarter with Edmonds Community College's horticulture program. I took a group of 25 students around to meet avid plant collectors and see their extraordinary landscapes throughout July and August.

Our grand finale is the exuberant and quirky Ciscoe Morris, his wife Mary and their amazing garden in Seattle.

It was such a treat and a real honor that Ciscoe agreed to have my class visit his garden. Not only were we treated to his over the top enthusiasm for his plants, we learned so many new facts and tips on cultivating a lot of the rare treasures he pointed out to us.

Morris 8

Before this tour, I got a phone call from a group of my students who were carpooling in the same vehicle saying they were running late because they had just been in an accident.

"Oh dear, is everyone okay?!"

"Just a bit sore. We were rear ended. We'll be there in a few minutes, they're just finishing up the police report"

"If you need to rest and just want to head home or if you need medical assistance, please go ahead to the hospital!!"


15 minutes after that conversation, they quietly joined our group and Ciscoe's tour.

I can understand their commitment and desire to see this garden and meet Ciscoe in person, but I couldn't get over the fact that THEY DECLINED A MEDICAL VEHICLE and actually told the officer to hurry with the police report because they were headed to Ciscoe Morris's garden for a class!!! hahahah

I certainly hope it was worth it for them. Ciscoe has such an amazing assortment of plants and a wealth of tips and information. I was amazed how far his voice carries! I wonder how his neighbors tolerate this! LOL

Here are some highlights:

A lovely specimen of Eucomis 'Oakhurst' that just looks smashing with a yellow-leafed Caryopteris.

Melianthus 'Antonow's Blue'. He says to plant it 4" deeper than it was originally growing and to mulch it well.

The short, but smashing Agapanthus 'Graskop' with Crocosmia 'Solfaterre'

A stunning specimen of a rare Nolina species (longifolia)

I'm so glad my students are safe. Now with the class over, I hope they'll rest and recover as they're already asking about a future class for more tours!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pulling out of the NHS Meet the Board Tour

Having been persuaded to take part once again for this much anticipated garden tour for the Northwest Horticultural Society, I thought it'd be another great opportunity to share my work and sell my many rare and select plants! I've set aside a lot of things in my life to pursue my horticultural endeavors, but a family event has forced me to withdraw from this year's "Meet the Board" Tour.

Yes, I'm disappointed, but honestly, I'm also a bit relieved. It's been such a busy summer season and the weather has been quite punishing to the garden and nursery. I've been watering, but with no irrigation system, I simply couldn't keep up.

Fried Cercidiphyllum japonicum
My poor Katsura is destined for early dormancy this year.

Drought stressed Rhododendron fortunei
Already in dryish shade, this plant bounces back after a good drink, but it looks horrible when deprived of water.

Fried Magnolia officinalis
The very first tree I planted in Landwave after seeing it at Washington Park Arboretum. It's getting taller each year and the leaves are getting larger and larger and more prone to sun scorch!

You know, it doesn't help to always focus on the negative, there are parts of the garden that I really wish people could see!

Lily Beds in morning light
Lilies are absolutely stunning in morning light.

Illuminated grasses with Tetrapanax
As are the ornamental grasses.

Lilium Contrast with Echinops
Echinops are doing very well this year. They must love the heat and intense light and look spectacular with Lilium 'Contrast'.

Lilium Scheherazade in morning light.
The ever vigorous 'Scheherazade' is in full bloom and again, backlit by the morning sun, looks marvelous!

Not quite the same as visiting the garden and fully appreciating these plants, but sort of eases the sting of not being able to share this with a large group of people.