Nursery Visit: Gossler Farms Nursery Part I

I always carry a plant wish-list for those "just in case" moments. Sometimes, however, one needs to do a bit more planning to acquire that extra-special plant rather than relying on fate alone to parade goodies across my path. Enter Gossler Farms Nursery, a much beloved but never visited nursery. I've bought many plants from them over the years at plant sales and online (they have an amazing catalogue), but I had not visited their nursery in Springfield, Oregon some two and a half hours south of us in the Willamette Valley. It was time. Facilities Manager and I headed out on a rare, sunny winter day to this jewel of a nursery.

This illustrates the feeling we found at the nursery: Sunny, blooming, fresh and full of benevolent creatures. 

Meet the man himself, Roger Gossler. I know, you were thinking Fred the Cat was the man himself. Well, OK, Fred's pretty awesome but Roger is the man in the know. The nursery is a family affair. It consists of Roger, his mother Marj, and his brother Eric. There are a few other helpers, but it's a small group that does an amazing amount of work, and they've been at it since 1972. Gossler Farms Nursery covers about seven acres. I understand the family farm is more extensive, however, at 150 acres that spans both sides of the McKenzie river.

Gossler Farms Nursery is very highly regarded in the nursery trade. Roger is known for being able to sell you a plant you may have known about but didn't know you needed. His enthusiasm for plants is infectious, and the nursery has many hard-to-find varieties. They specialize in several genera - magnolias, maples, dogwoods, rhododendrons, witch hazels and viburnum. There are many other offerings, it's worth browsing through their website to do a little daydreaming. 

Today I thought we could look around the gardens a bit, even though it's still winter, and then next week here take a peek inside the greenhouses.

Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph' is a tree we saw a few weeks ago at Portland Nursery. Here is a nice specimen in the garden with its winter golden needles.

It really is this color. Here is the Gossler description of it: During summer this amazing pine is dark green and in late October- November suddenly (1 week) will change to a lovely golden yellow. During winter P. 'Chief Joseph' will be a beacon of golden color. In spring our eastern Oregon native will turn back to green. Very rarely offered but P. 'Chief Joseph' is worth the expense. 

Definitely worth the expense, and they had several growing in the greenhouses. 

A witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.) near the office. This large tree was easily 15' tall. In next week's post I will show many more cultivars as this is a genus in which Gossler Farms specializes.

Here a vase-shaped witch hazel with clear yellow flowers graces the drive up to the nursery.

Even the simplest of materials can create drama and interest in the garden. I was quite drawn to this bamboo-filled pot in the center of a path. Hmm...maybe that would work for me at Chickadee Gardens someday. Ideas..ideas...

Roger said that as it's been such a terrible winter with a lot of rain (February saw record rainfall in much of the state), clean up of the garden had to be delayed so as not to walk on squishy soil and compact it. Here, the garden looks tidy to my eyes. Sweeps of grass bordered by many of Gossler's offerings.

Chaenomeles x superba 'Hollandia'. This lovely quince is espalliered against a wall in front of the parking area. One came home with me, how could I resist that color?

A carpet of Epimedium froleithin, according to the label. I think they offered this at one point through the catalogue, but today there are many other epimediums offered, I'm not so certain about this species. Either way, epimediums are all lovely. An evergreen ground cover solution for dry shade.

A different general view of the winter garden. 

The drive up to the nursery is lined with sculptural sycamore trees.

This oak tree was planted in 1951 by Roger's parents. It's difficult to tell, but this is huge. Roger shared with me that he spotted some mistletoe this year. He wondered why now - perhaps oaks have to be a certain age to support them? If anyone knows, feel free to chime in.

One of several greenhouses, all beautifully maintained. I was particularly drawn to this verdigris door.

The drive up to the nursery is lined with a fascinating selection of trees and shrubs. Seeing it backlit really helps to identify where the witch hazels are this time of year while they are in full bloom.

More hoop houses. Boy, was it fun exploring. More to come next week on that front.

A bench tucked away in a shady grove next to a stream was inviting even in the middle of winter.

The stream runs through their property.

The crocus tell me spring is here.

OK, now on to the important business. Meet George on the left and Fred on the right. Brothers and polydactyl. Rather octodactyl as Roger claims they have 8 toes on each front paw. As we must have had our mouths wide open in disbelief, Roger kindly showed us the many many toes of these very sweet boys.

Benny the corgi and Sophie the golden retriever were by Roger's side every step of the way. Benny thought he could blend in with the plants but Sophie outed him.

That face!

There's my guy Fred with some of his many, many toes. He can probably operate heavy machinery with all those digits. Or, to Roger's chagrin, operate the can opener.

For a parting shot I leave you with Roger, Bennie and the Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph' (oh, and a sycamore, too). Bennie, his ever-present helper is such a love. It truly is a family affair at Gossler Farms Nursery, furry family included.

It was a long drive there and back in a day, but well worth it. I purchased what I came for (more on that next week), had a lovely day out with Facilities Manager and enjoyed seeing Roger in his native habitat. For anyone interested in visiting, do call first as they are primarily mail-order and might not be around, but they do love having visitors and encourage it.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening! More to come on Gossler Farms Nursery next week.


  1. Such a wonderful place to visit, even in the grips of winter. Thanks for the tour.
    I can assure you that we have lots of Epimedium froleithin on hand at JC...don't ask me how I know.

    1. Hmmm....I wonder how you know of this Epimedium, Rickii! (we joke because she just cut back about 2,385 of them last week). They thank you for it, for sure.

  2. Corgi snoot! Thanks for the garden tour and the animal introductions. The sycamore tree reminds me of the Whomping Willow, but with a hair cut.

    1. CORGI! Oh, those sycamores are so unusual. Such a European haircut.

  3. I don't recall ever meeting the kitties, even though I've been lucky enough to visit Gossler Farms several times. Bennie however, he's a doll that I would happily adopt. Oh ya, and the plants!!! Can't wait to see what you bought.

    1. The kitties are new - one year old or so. Totally kittens at heart, too. Oh, that Bennie - what a love bug.

  4. Working at something you love, surrounded by plants and accompanied by animals - that's my idea of a perfect life!

  5. Definitely need to add them to my list of places to visit. Critters AND plants!? Heaven.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!

Popular Posts