Nursery Visit: Molbak's Nursery

Earlier this February, my colleagues and I hit Seattle's Northwest Flower & Garden show. We also managed to squeeze in visits to three area garden centers, two of which I covered in earlier posts. This is the last post of the three: Molbak's in Woodinville, northeast of Seattle.

Molbak's has been in operation since 1956. Egon and Laina Molbak, originally from Denmark, purchased the land and began a small nursery selling standard fare for that era. Today, after a few incarnations, it is one giant garden center with a giant website and lots much more than just plants. It also features many decorative and functional items for the home.  For example, pictured above are some fake succulents for the lazy or brown-thumbed gardener.

There are acres of plants all under greenhouse glass as well as an outdoor area for trees and shrubs.

I love seeing this, supplies for mason bees and other critters.

Birds, too.

An abundance of seeds.

Good selection of garden tools, too.

More useful products for bird enthusiasts.

Here is just a sampling of some of the housewares available. Lots of silk flowers, candles, tea towels and the like.

Beautifully displayed, too.

This faux cactus made me laugh. It's kind of cool in a high school way.

A rainbow of Adirondacks. 

Good selection of faux plants! 

Real ones, too - here are Tillandsias in shells and on driftwood.

More real plants here. A decent succulent section all around.

A string of pearls was in bloom.

Hydrangea flowers.

More hydrangea flowers.

Under the big greenhouses many annual, perennial and bulb displays to shop from.

Fountains and indoor plants, too.

I don't think I've ever seen so many orchids for sale in one place.

There were a few choice cement garden ornaments.

Not one, but four or maybe six bulb displays. 

As it was February, early spring bulbs were around every corner.

Astelia and mondo grass - they had a nice selection of grasses.

See what I mean about vast? This is just one small section.

Trees, shrubs and many edibles were outside.

This is an interesting way to hold what I think are bare-root stock fruit trees.

So are you overwhelmed yet? What really comes to mind when I think of Molbak's, however, are pots. Containers. I have never seen so many in one retail location. Ever. What follows is just a small sampling of what we encountered.

Gold? Bronze? Sure.

Greens, yes.

Rainbows! So many are huge, too. 

Or small and textured.

Earth tones.

Or perhaps the blues.

I really like these terra cotta pots, personally.

More earth tones.

Cool colors.

And cool cats.

Spring greens and garden boots, to boot.

Cool, icy simple white.

Bright trendy colors for your indoor plants.

 How about mirrored?

This is just the small pot section.

And a couple wacked-out chickens.

As I mentioned in earlier posts about the other two garden centers, no one greeted us nor asked us if we had any questions. Many of you expressed relief at such treatment, which I understand, as secretly I'm an introvert. I am also in retail, however, and was quite surprised. Is it a cultural thing in Seattle? I just don't think that would fly in Portland. Beyond that minor complaint, it is a wonderful place to shop, if overwhelming with choices. They do a lovely job with their displays, too. The choices as far as plants are concerned was pretty predictable. I sort of enjoyed browsing the housewares, but there was nothing unique or specifically locally made that I could find, but I'm sure there were some, they just didn't jump out. A lot of places with similar business models are crammed with stuff from catalogues - that is to say mass-produced. That's not for me but I get why people would search this place out -- the selection.

It's all so personal, isn't it? How we shop, what we find attractive or what we justify spending. In all, if it's a local business that supports the local economy, it has got to be a good thing. And if it makes people happy, that's even better. I enjoyed Molbak's, I really did - I think I was just overwhelmed with so much to look at. If I were back in the Seattle area, I would definitely stop again. Especially if I needed a container. Oh, and did I mention they have a cafe? THAT'S a great idea.

That wraps it up for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!


  1. Molbak's is amazing for its size and selection. I saw several things that would be hard to pass up. Shopping styles are personal, but not greeting customers wouldn't work in Texas. They don't need to hover but a simple welcome and offer to help if needed is expected.

    1. Yes, there were many "I want" items, to be sure. I agree with you Shirley regarding a simple welcome...that goes a long way for both shopping personalities!

  2. So many trips to Molbaks back when I was a Seattleite. It was a fun destination for friends and I on weekends.

  3. I understand the attraction of a Molbak's - it's the perfect place to go when you know what you want but not necessarily a place you'd go to find an unusual plant. However, I admit I really like that metal saguaro cactus in the first photo - it looks as though I could plant it with real aeonium cuttings as my own version of cactus flowers.

    1. That's it, spot on, Kris. There were very cool things here, to be sure - it's a great idea to plant that cactus dealie with aeonium...see? Great ideas come from all kinds of sources.

  4. Anonymous6:49 PM PDT

    Hi, Sweetie, from Adelaide. No pictures of plants today, I am afraid; it is rainy and windy. Nice post though. Keep up the good work. Love you. DP

    1. What? You're in Adelaide? I thought you were in the kitchen! What the hell are you doing in Australia?

  5. Interesting that you noticed the not being greeted thing. Guess I'm just used to that at our retail spots but always come away from PDX nurseries thinking that the folks there are especially friendly. Molbak's is a fun spot and we look forward to their two for the price of one container sale each year among other sales. After Christmas is especially nice as many of the containers in red, white, green, and metallic colors are thought of as seasonal and get down to 90% off. There's nothing quite like this place and Wight's Nursery north of Seattle at Holiday time.

    1. Really? You're used to that? All I can think of is that it's a Seattle thing. Or maybe Portlanders are just overly friendly? At any rate, the sale you mention sounds great. I'd love to see it at Christmas time...maybe I'll steal the husband's truck this January and head up there. Who's with me?

  6. I like my shopping experiences in smaller, more curated doses. Still, I would love to visit this place someday. The greeting thing is a bit of a conundrum. Some stores, you feel like you spend half your time beating off salesperson after salesperson with phony offers of help. Coming from the other side, it's a fine line, between making oneself available and giving the customer some elbow room.

    1. Aaah, we are so similar Rickii. I know...the balance of a good customer service person is tricky - but a simple hello goes a long way. You've got it down, Ricki! You're great with customers, I must say :)

  7. Oh my GOSH. I would go crazy in a place like that.


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