Sebright Gardens and Nursery

How did I possibly call myself a Pacific Northwest gardener before visiting Sebright Nursery and Gardens? Shame on me! I should have gone years ago. All of my hosta- and fern-loving friends have been visiting for years, practically squealing with excitement at how gorgeous it is. My dear friend and former boss/owner at Joy Creek Nursery Maurice and his husband took me and FM along for a road trip last week to do a little shopping and exploring. How could we resist with such fabulous company? 

Sebright Gardens is near Salem in the mid-Willamette Valley. It is many acres of well-tended, mostly shade gardens that were started in 2003 as a private garden. Fast forward to today and there are many more acres being claimed for expanding garden beds, a mail order and retail nursery and the ambiance of surrounding agriculture typical of the area. They are known for an amazing variety of hostas, ferns and epimediums.

It was a super-bright, sunny hot day, not ideal for photography but hopefully the spirit of the place will grace these photos. All right then, let's check out one of the best small nurseries in the land and have a picnic. Here we go!

A typical vignette in the lovely shade gardens of Sebright Gardens and Nursery. OK, let's start from the beginning:

The nursery with the fern and hosta hoop house on the right, Maurice deep in shopping mode 3.2 minutes after pulling into the parking lot. That tingle in your tummy when you see plants for sale? That was double this day.

From Maurice forward - it's all hostas. They ship for those of you who can't visit the nursery in person.

SO MANY. It was difficult to choose. They grow over a thousand varieties.

Backstock for employees only. I actually wasn't lusting to go explore this section because the variety for sale in the retail area is overwhelming. And fabulous.

Moving on to a tour of the gardens post-lunch. I believe this is Blechnum chilense, a very handsome evergreen fern with rather stiff fronds.

Moving along through the garden, the sheer variety of foliage colors is enough to convince me you could create a whole garden with hostas alone if one were so inclined (I'm not, but just sayin'). The tower is one of many throughout the grounds, the clever design conceals upright sprinklers.

A perfect hosta. I saw no slug damage on any plants, a small miracle. I wonder how they do it?

 Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, royal fern.

Golds and chartreuse spark in the shade. I love the wavy margins on the hosta on the right.

Not entirely hostas, there were sun perennials tucked in, too.

Conifer textures are quite pleasing. There are many sunny borders, not only shady ones.

There's a full shot of one of the irrigation towers on the left.

A variegated philadelphus. If they had this for sale I would have brought one home for sure. While I love philadelphus, especially our native Philadelphus lewisii, truth be told the plant is quite dull once the bloom has ended, so to look at this for the rest of the season would be fantastic.

Perfection - ferns, hostas, grasses, ligularia all grown so beautifully. Apparently they add several inches of compost every year to all the beds and that fact goes a long way towards explaining such lush gardens.

Maurice and I both looked for a tag on this conifer, both finding it quite interesting. No luck. 

Stained glass foliage of cannas.

Chionanthus virginicus, white fringe tree. 

After shopping and before exploring the gardens we enjoyed lunch in this fantastic gazebo in a shady position with a cool breeze passing through. Sorry, no pics of the food frenzy in which we all participated. Let's just say everything is calorie-free when on a plant road trip (or so we told ourselves as we inhaled potato chips and brownie bites).

Clematis (I took no note of the culitvar) brightening a shady spot. I really like the many shades of pink/purple on one specimen at the same time.

More sunny borders with peonies, shrubs and other herbaceous perennials.

It doesn't particularly read as spectacular in this photo, but when I saw this hosta in the garden I stopped and said how much I like it. When I looked at the tag it turns out it's one I purchased before lunch! 

More Blechnum chilense filling in between hostas in the understory of small deciduous trees.

Athyrium niponicum var. pictum 'Apple Court', painted Japanese fern looks so fresh this time of the year. In my own garden if they don't receive adequate water, they look rather tattered.

Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'

The sun was warm and the gardens looked great.

Paris polyphylla 'Heronswood Form', an incredible shade-loving plant I really lust after. Alas, they were not available in the nursery.

Delosperma hanging down a rock wall in a rather hot sunny site.

A sweet primula just wrapping up its bloom.

Carpinus fangiana, hornbeam.

More Blechnum chilense. I guess I really like this fern. 

  Schefflera rhododendrifolia

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset' 

Thalictrum ichangense 'Evening Star' - had this been available at the nursery for sale I would have purchased it. Sadly, it is not.

Polygonatum 'Fireworks' with handsome red stems and variegated foliage.

Not clear what this is but I really admired the bright variegation in dappled light.

My heart jumped a little when Maurice and I spotted this variegated Daphniphyllum himalayense.

A newly created area, it must be at least an acre - where trees were cleared to make room for more garden beds. I noticed many iris beds. Apparently they are iris breeders as well and since they have the land to plant them out in a garden setting, why not? (except all the work!)

For my first visit I will say I was quite stunned at the perfection of it all, the gorgeous shade gardens thick with foliage textures I could never adequately duplicate in my dry shade garden, but I continue to try. In fact, I've been purchasing plants from them for years at plant sales and everything I've ever purchased has been quite healthy. So. What did we come home with? Hostas 'El Capitan' and 'Tyler's Treasure'. I picked up a Cheilanthes lanosa or hairy lip fern, Epimedium 'Swallowtail' and Acer pseudoplatanus 'Esk Sunset', a beautiful small maple with mottled pink and cream leaves. Not a lot but treasures nonetheless. They are all planted (save for the acer), tucked into their new homes in a few blank areas in the shade garden (winter damage always creates new opportunities, I tell myself) and I look forward to watching them grow year in and out. They will remind me of a very splendid day well spent with dear friends.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you! And a big thank you to the King City Garden Club for having me out for a presentation last week. An additional huge thank you to the Clark County Hardy Plant Society of Oregon group for having me out Wednesday evening to talk all things groundcovers. It was a pleasure meeting you all, both such wonderful gardening groups. Thank you thank you!



  1. Anonymous7:24 AM PDT

    Sebright is a favorite walk in the “ park” with plant shopping! It was great seeing it through your eyes!

    1. Ooh, that's a great description. A walk in the park. It felt like that - a very special park.

  2. Thomas and Kirk are two of the hardest working men I know! Their nursery/garden is always in tip top shape. I think it's time I plan another visit...

    1. Thank you for saying that, Danger - you are so right! I should have mentioned it myself so thanks. The work they do! The perfection of the gardens! Swooon....

  3. A swoon-worthy garden/nursery to be sure, even if I wouldn't have a prayer of growing 90+% of those plants. I look forward to seeing your newbie purchases in your garden.

    1. It is swoon worthy, I wish you could see it. I will keep updates on the newbies very soon on the blog! Woo fun having new plants.

  4. What a stunning garden. I always lust over shady beds full of treasures as I have only a tiny patch of shade. On a hot summer's day all that glorious foliage would be cooling and restful.. Is this a family run business? Kind of overwhelming when you look at the scale of it especially with such impeccable maintenance.

    1. The soothing coolness of a shade garden is so appetizing. It is a family run business, Thomas and Kirk are the force behind the magnificent gardens and nursery. It's all their creation.

  5. Kristin Thomas9:28 PM PDT

    Please tell Maurice how much I miss Joy Creek! I hadn't been there in years, after filling my teeny-tiny Bethany-area yard with hostas and hellebores and pulmonaria from JC, but after moving to Sherwood a couple of years ago, I wanted to go back to re-purchase some of my favorites. I was so sad to see that they'd closed. Thankfully, I brought along a small start of my 'Roy Davidson' pulmonaria and my 'Roseum' forsythia, which was in a pot. My boys, now grown, have fond memories of wandering around the gardens and, of course, getting a cookie in the barn.
    As for Sebright, I've been there twice but somehow missed the display gardens. Guess I gotta go back!

    1. I will, Kristin! Fortunately for me I see him often. The gardens at Joy Creek are special and I think there are thousands of us with special memories. It's definitely the stuff of joy and dreams. And the cookies in the barn! Ramona and Mike are still at it with the landscaping business at Joy Creek, so in a way it's still going strong. And yes, go back to Sebright. Totally worth it.

  6. Anonymous8:14 AM PDT

    Hee hee: "Maurice deep in shopping mode 3.2 minutes after pulling into the parking lot" That could have been me, I get that tingle too! Well described.
    I must say: the grassy path in photo 26 is reminiscent of YOUR garden, which is still quite young. It's like looking into the future.
    I'd love an All Hosta garden if they didn't die back in winter. (I couldn't look at dirt-only all winter long). But if you mix in evergreen ferns... hellebores for flowers... conifer for structure... it could be my next garden :-)

    1. Oh, you couldn't hold him back if you tried. Truth be told I was the same way, politely trotting to the shopping carts.

      Interesting observations about the grassy path - perhaps that IS what mine is going towards? Such an interesting journey no matter how it all turns out. Your recipe for an all hosta garden with ferns and hellebores evokes delicious visions. Keep dreaming! I love it!

  7. Sebright is such a magical place! They are having an event there tomorrow June 17. Here is a link to their events for the rest of the summer:
    I did a Google Images search for your conifer: it is Thuja orientalis 'Franky Boy'. As for the variegated tree, the most frequent result was Cornus mas 'Variegata'. But there are several variegated dogwoods ;-)

    1. Ooh, thanks for the link! Anyone who is inclined to go, I would say do it.

      I knew I could count on my garden peeps for some proper identifications! Thank you, Colleen! I'll let Maurice (he who is not on social media) know as well. Cheers!

  8. In a past Wisconsin life, I was big into hostas. They did so well there with so many colors. I tried everything from the minis to the giants. I miss them, but hostas don't do well for me here. The variegated tree was a Davidia involucrata, maybe 'Lady Sunshine'. Sebright Gardens is one of the premier gardens in the state. Thomas and Kirk put in a lot of work there. It's one of those places that is a plant propagator's dream because there are so many rare and unusual things. I always wish they had more of the display plants for sale!

    1. Oh, I could picture it, Jerry - your lush Wisconsin hosta garden. But different climate, different soil = different gardens. Not worse but different. Thank you for the tree i.d., I knew you fabulous garden people would be able to i.d. it for me!

      Thomas and Kirk simply rock! They are so hard working and it shows. The display gardens, yes - oh, how we drooled over specimens that sadly were not for sale in the nursery but I get it, one can only do so much and frankly, they are sooooo good at what they do propagate that I wouldn't want that to change.

    2. I also considered Davidia involucrata for the variegated tree, but I couldn't see how serrated the leaf was in the photo. I'm glad Jerry confirmed it! It's too bad you didn't see it in bloom (April-May) - the white bracts are what gives it its common names of dove tree and handerkerchief tree - stunning!

    3. That just means we'll have to go back next April or May and check it out. I love that tree!

  9. What a gorgeous garden/park/nursery! Yeah, I'd like to know how they don't have a bite taken out of those lush leaves.


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