Monday, February 27, 2012

A Visit to Cistus Nursery

I made an impromptu stop at Cistus Nursery today after staying with some extended family in Oregon.  The nursery is located just outside of Portland on Sauvie Island.  Being three hours away from my house in Seattle, it's sort of a requirement for me to stop by if I'm ever driving through.

Cistus Nursery is a plant geek's nursery.  You won't find very many fruit trees or frilly flowers here.  Their specialty is in rare evergreen structural plants.  They grow plants like agaves, eucalyptus, palms, bamboo, ferns, cacti, yuccas, and perhaps the Northwest's best selection of hardy broadleaved evergreen trees.  In other words, they happen to grow all my most favorite plants.

Above, a pair of Yucca rostrata growing in a surprisingly high amount of shade. 

Below, I'm not quite sure of the plant on the left, but I know the plant on the right: an eryngium agavifolium.  Both look a bit miserable but they are also growing in a lot of shade and would probably look better in more sun.  At least they're growing in sandy/rocky soil.

Here is a nice Trachycarpus Fortunei (Windmill palm).  The new information on these is to partially bury the trunk when you plant them, since new roots can emerge from the trunk itself and extend its root system.  This palm is really unlike most other palms and thrives in our almost year-round wetness.

Here's an exciting idea: Pinnate or feather-leaved palms that can grow in the Northwest.  After all, when most people think of a palm tree, they're thinking of something that looks like this:

Butia capitata

A look inside the main greenhouse.  It is not an exaggeration to say that rare plants outnumber familiar plants.

I was checking out the palms when this scrappy old cat started stalking me.

Here is an overall view of the nursery looking back toward the entrance.  As you can see, I had the place all to myself.

Psycho cat stalking me again as I was checking out these sedges.

Inside one of the greenhouses.  Their heating system does not seem to be very well advanced but I'm sure it does the trick.

The check-out area.  I have no idea what the plant is on the left.  It has the foliage of an echium but is branched like a tree.

Leaving Cistus Nursery without any plants is like leaving the beach without a suntan.  I quickly realized that a lot of money goes a little ways here.  But when you consider the time, effort, and resources it takes to obtain and propagate these incredible plants, it's actually a really good deal.

From left to right: 
Osmanthus armatus 'Jim Porter' - Very stiff, light green leaves with gold spikes
Podocarpus matudae - A large-leaved podocarpus
Chamaecyparis lawsonia 'Blue Surprise' - A Japanese conifer with blue foliage
Sophora microphylla 'Sun King' - An evergreen tree in the pea family
Cussonia paniculata - Just an odd-looking plant that will eventually form a trunk (not really hardy)
Magnolia laevifolia 'Velvet & Cream' - An incredibly handsome little tree
Agave parryi var. huachucensis - A blue agave with a good amount of cold and wet tolerance
Lonicera nitida 'Twiggy' - A little shrub with red and green foliage
Carex platyphylla 'Blue Satin' - A sedge with 1-2" wide, paper-thin foliage
Schefflera delavayi - One of the hardiest scheffleras
Pyrrosia lingua - A creeping evergreen fern with simple (i.e. non-ferny) leaves


  1. So glad you got to visit Cistus, you made such excellent purchases!

    The plant on the left in your second to last picture, with foliage like an Echium, is indeed an variegated Echium, beautiful wasn't it?....and in your third photo from the top the plant on the left is an Agave bracteosa.

  2. Whoa, we just missed each other! Glad you went down. Glad I found this blog. Great to have another young gardener enthusiastic about rare and unusual plants!

  3. Hello,

    I'm with team plant lust. Found you while researching Magnolia laevifolia. I always break for posts on Cistus. I see Loree's been here already. I never ever scoop her. Nice. Thanks

    1. Way to go with Plant Lust. You're doing some nice work there.