Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nursery Visit: Little Prince of Oregon

When an invitation to visit Little Prince of Oregon wholesale nursery comes around, I say: "Yes, please!" Such was the case a couple of weekends ago when Mark Leichty invited a group out to have a tour and see what they are up to these days. This was my third visit; the first was covered in this blog post from 2014.

The famous sign, adorned with Sempervivums.

Here we are (not everyone is pictured here) gathered in the office before we were let loose to explore the 70-something hoop houses. The last time I visited were some 30 - 40, so Mark has been busy adding more plants and places to grow them. Pictured here, left to right: Evan Bean of the Practical Plant geek, Darcy Daniels of Bloomtown and E Garden Go! and Mike Darcy of In the Garden radio program.

There's Mark and his home-made muffins he shared with us!  After we were provided coffee, treats and a brief history of the nursery, we were set loose to explore this vast place (20 acres) just south of Portland. The nursery was started in 1997 by Ketch de Kanter with some Arborvitae and other common landscape shrubs. It has grown exponentially and is now one of the premiere suppliers of perennials, ferns, sedums, grasses and other more uncommon plants up and down the West Coast and beyond.

Off we went to explore this vast nursery. First up, Viola 'Heartthrob'. What a looker.

How about the silver on these Begonia leaves? Begonia 'Garden Angel Blush'.

Delosperma 'Jewel of Desert Peridot'. This one just sparkles. I would love to see a whole field of this in full bloom.

Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine', a new introduction that has been quite popular this spring.

A rainbow of Heucheras. They honestly come in so many colors, there's one for every occasion if you are a fan.

So very juicy purple.

Euphorbias and grasses.

Next up is a sea of tiny little sedums from a line called "Plant Poppers." At just a couple of dollars each they are a perfect solution to create that perfect sedum-based craft project or terrarium.

It's a little ridiculous how cute this field of goodness is.

Fellow visitors under a gloomy spring sky.

A stowaway seedling on Scleranthus uniflorus 'Gnarled Cushion'.

I felt like a giant airplane above fields in Ireland looking at this scene. Actually it's moss.

That color and texture. This was the case all over the nursery - patterns of colors and shape and believe me, I took a lot of photos. This is just distilled down to a few favorites.

More sedums.

Aaaand...more sedums! Cape Blanco is the variety here. A native to the West Coast.

Sempervivums that resemble pine cones. There were so many varieties, it boggles the mind.

How about that color?

Sedum bricks - great idea! I've seen these for sale at local stores. It's an economical way to get the most bang for your plant dollar as these can easily be broken up to create any number of projects.

This combination brings to mind photos of space that I've seen. One could get lost staring into this all afternoon.

Little Prince has been up to some creative combinations. These are hanging baskets ready to go. A great gift or an easy solution for your own garden.

They also have these sweet bird feeders and bird houses with eco-roof tops.

In the loading area. Getting ready for shipping! As mentioned in my last post about Little Price a lot of these go to local New Seasons markets. Many also go to our local Fred Meyer stores.

In one of the many hoop houses.

Fresh new hostas.

Armeria maritima or sea thrift - a West Coast native and a stalwart plant in my garden.

Into the fern house.

Fernie von fern fern! (that's the Husband typing there)

Osmunda regalis 'Purpurascens', a gorgeous fern.

Autumn fern or Dryopteris erythrosora -- I did not get which cultivar this is but it's gorgeous no matter what the name.

Hey! There's Mark and Kate Bryant, independent garden writer and plant goddess.

My friend Evan's (of the Practical Plant Geek blog) haul.

Here's Ann Jaeger and her wonderful selection. It was a treat to meet her. Actually I was in such amazing company, it was humbling. Not pictured in this post are garden writers and designers Marcia and Dennis Peck who write for the Oregonian, Ann Amato of the Amatuer Bott-ann-ist blog, and also Mindy Northrup of Rindy Mae garden blog.

My haul: Phlox, Agave bracteosa, Agave ovatifolia and a few others.....

It's a rare treat to be able to see where all these goodies are grown. Little Prince is immaculate and vast and welcoming. I have purchased many of their plants throughout my gardening life never thinking I would be able to see where they were grown. They have been an ubiquitous part of my garden shopping experience so it's nice to be able to connect the two worlds. Mark is a wonderful host as always and very gracious to open up on his days off. We all had a good time although I must admit we didn't see much of one another once we were let loose - it's such a big place. Well, thank you, Mark, for a great day out, it was a treat to see what you guys have been up to! Let us know, dear readers, what your favorite Little Prince plant is.

 That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Seattle Visit: Ravenna Gardens

Oh, gardening friends, get ready for a little virtual retail therapy. During our Seattle trip we hit three local nurseries, one of which was Ravenna Gardens in the University District. The smallest of the three, it was more boutique in nature, reflecting its urban locale. Ravenna Gardens has a stunning selection of gorgeous wares for both garden and home.

I invite you to sit back and take it all in.

There is an outdoor section where perennials, groundcovers, trees and edibles are found. And there's my boss and friend William McClenathan of Garden Time TV and Drake's in Portland.

Next door was this incredible planting (with my colleague Anna of Flutter and Hum is also intrigued). I wonder if Ravenna Gardens had a hand in this.

Great combination of textures and colors for an evergreen (mostly) planting.

Moving on: This is an enchanting idea, well-executed and functional, too. These types of vignettes are, in my mind, the most appealing.

These table and chairs make for a colorful alternative to wall art. More great planters, too.

Moving inside, there are dozens of interesting color-themed vignettes.

Mixed in with plants and containers is an interesting selection of napkins, vases, artworks, books, candle holders, soaps, lotions and curiosities of the natural kind.

There were lots of bunnies mixed in, too.

 A choice selection of terrariums and succulent planters.

These green vases, pots and candles speak my language.

So does everything in this neutral-toned vignette, evoking images form the sea.

If you ever needed a hostess gift or something special for the home, this is the place. So in a way, this is not strictly a nursery or garden center. To me, it is a place to make your garden and home special.

Wreaths are very au currant, which I am happy about, and this unusual example really caught my eye.

Here's the powder blue vignette. While all of this is visually stunning, I have to say that many items made in China did grace the shelves. I personally go for locally made items first, eschewing mass-produced eye candy, even though it's really hard to do sometimes. Prices are higher for locally made items, but I figure if I love it that much and have to have it, it's ok to pay a fair price.

Oh, yes, they have plants. Inside, many tender succulents and cacti from which to choose.

And more terrariums and crystals, too.

We all thought these were interesting.

A touch of classic garden statuary.

A few garden tools and crows to help. There are several tools tucked in here and there, but not in the same way that a garden center would display them.

I loved these terra cotta pots, I should have picked up a few.

Soaps, lotions and candles. It smelled great in there.

Back outside, a few spring blossoms for color.

Edibles, too.

A nice selection of 4-inch pots. As it's a small store, the selection was somewhat predictable but very nice-looking and useful.

The store is so airy that it really captures the inside-outside feel all over.

I include this to mention that I saw this tree at every nursery we went to as well as at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show. This happens to be the same olive tree species that I have, too. Apparently olives are the hot thing in growing your own food!

A good selection of trellises.

I adore these as they remind me of the sea. I would love to have a few, but if I remember correctly, they were out of my budget range.

More splashes of spring color mixed with conifers and evergreens grace the entry way.

A final look back to this unique place.

Although not a proper nursery or garden center per se, Ravenna Gardens is nonetheless a stunning place. All of us agree it is first-class with a sweet selection and an extremely inventive and effective way of displaying goods. We thought of it as the petite "Crate and Barrel" of garden centers, visually enticing and immaculate. This appeals to a particular audience, one that is certainly present in this part of Seattle. This fancier level of retail I found at all three Seattle-area nurseries we visited, whereas the Portland nurseries, garden centers and the like feel a bit more rustic with less flash. The prices reflect this, too -- I think it just all depends on what people are willing to spend; neighborhoods that have a population willing to support these kinds of places will create the market for them. So go shopping, people! Oh, and support your local artisans when you can. Just sayin'.

Its smaller size is neither good nor bad. It is where you go for a special item so the smaller size invites you to linger whereas the mega-store can be mentally exhausting before you even begin. But the larger store always has more to offer in terms of selection, so I suppose it depends on personal shopping preferences. For me, I swing from mood to mood. To compare the last nursery, Sky Nursery to this one is really apples to oranges, but a comparison does highlight the variety of kinds of shopping experiences one can have even in the world of garden centers.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you for visiting and reading, and until next time happy gardening, happy spring and happy Saint Patrick's Day!