Cistus Nursery

 I love to play outside with my camera. Recently I've been taking photos for our newly revamped website at Cistus Nursery; find the website here! Bridget has been hard at work at the revamp, and I think the website looks fabulous. I know it will continue to evolve and grow as we add more plants for mail order. 

So, last week being the winter solstice and all moody-foggy (and as I was caught up with website photography for the day), I strolled a little beyond the greenhouses and ventured into some of the gardens at Cistus Nursery. Since gardening for most of us comes to a crawl this time of the year, exploring a garden that continues to excite even in December is a joy to share. Here then is a little bit of Cistus Nursery on a winter solstice day.

When heading to Cistus down Gillihan Road on Sauvie Island which is quite rural and agricultural, it's easy to miss the driveway to the nursery. But no more, this new sign was revealed this summer and makes it crystal clear where we all need to go. Turn here for plant geekery!

Looking down the driveway

Pyracantha coccinea 'Dorothy's Fav' under the Cistus Nursery sign.

Arctostaphylos in front of appropriately rusted metal siding.

In the parking lot an Aesculus californica, California buckeye, is so heavily covered in lichen that it is lovely to look at long after its leaves and seeds have fallen.

Osmanthus in the garden along the driveway, likely O. 'Sasaba'.

Araucaria araucana, monkey puzzle tree, along the drive.

One of my personal favorites, Rhamnus alaternus ‘Variegata’, an evergreen shrub with many applications, including a fabulous source for holiday greenery.

As the driveway ends there is an island known as the Desert Island that is heavily amended with rocky material and very well-drained soil. It is densely planted with all manner of spiky things and looks great year-round.

Yucca rostrata, the "mascot" for Cistus Nursery.

Here is the Cistus logo, complete with Yucca rostrata. Artwork by Mark Bulwinkle.

In Sean's own words, this is a pale-spined clone of Opuntia whipplei.

More of the Desert Island cloaked in fog. Look at all those gorgeous spikes!

Opuntia (perhaps O. 'Oh') with very pretty coloration.

Hebe cupressoides 'Boughton Dome'

Muhlenbergia rigens, deer grass.

Lyonothamnus floribundus var. aspleniifolius, Catalina ironwood. I have wanted this tree for a while and I'm pleased to say we have it for sale, so, of course, I bought one.

Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph', lodgepole pine, in its winter coloration.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Elizabeth', another evergreen shrub with a little sparkle, especially on a dark winter day.

There are several beautiful and many mature eucalyptus in the gardens at Cistus Nursery.

Many fantastic grasses grace the Rancho Cistus gardens.

And trees, too.

Hawthorn, Crateagus x lavallei ‘Autumn Glory' branch found on a bench.

Carex secta along a path adds movement and color year round.

Sean and Preston created a new crevice garden in their private garden on site, it is in its second year and is really beginning to fill in.

Here it is photographed March of this year.

So many interesting and new-to-me plants here, I look forward to learning more over time.

Of course, spiky things love this well-drained gravelly environment.

For a summertime look at the crevice garden, my friend Loree of Danger Garden captured some lovely images and featured them on her blog this week, about half way down the post there are several images. Here is a link.

Bright berries on the shortest day of the year seem appropriate.

Phlomis taking on frosty glitter on a foggy day.

Garrya x issaquaensis ‘Carl Inglish’

Pacific tree or chorus frog in one of the greenhouses. On Sauvie Island there are thousands of these native frogs. At the nursery we hear them regularly but seldom see them as they are masters of camouflage. We like having them around as they take care of many pests such as slugs. 

A fairly old Berberis jamesiana covered in moss.

Taxodium mucronatum

Misty winter vibes.

We had some fun visitors to the retail nursery this day. Here a barred owl sits remarkably close to my colleague Aubrey, and me, putting up with my camera.

Closed eyes....typical for family portraits.

Thinking about flying away, which did happen moments after this was taken.

A couple signature Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue', a Cistus introduction, in the Desert Island bed.

While I did not intend to photograph for a blog post about Cistus Nursery garden this day, I felt I had enough interesting shots to put something together to brighten the dark days of winter. It reminds me I should come out here with the intention of a blog post (or three) for this garden is so interesting year-round. Sean and Preston have put together a gardener's delight, growing hardy, beautiful plants as well as unusual, hard to find and spiky beauties better than most anyone I have come across. The variety is astounding, but this should not be surprising, as Sean and Preston are plant collectors and botanists in the true sense of the word. So. Come out and visit us sometime if you are in the area, we're open daily year-round (save for holidays, naturally). I'm there on Thursdays doing my thing.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens, as always thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing what interests you! Happy gardening and Happy New Year! 

A few fun links, Cistus-related of course:
Cistus Instagram 


  1. It's always a good day to visit Cistus, thanks for the walk-around (and shout out). You got some great photos. I so wish I had a place to squeeze in a Lyonothamnus, I love that tree!

    1. Oh, timely that you should post the good pics of the crevice garden from summertime. Thanks for that! Happy New Year, Danger!

  2. You used weather conditions to take very atmospheric photos. Extra points for the owl and frog shits ;) I can only wish I had a nursery like Cistus nearby.

    1. Anonymous3:49 PM PST

      Oops, I think you meant 'shots'. lol

    2. Lovely shots. Nothing like a bit of mist to make everything so ethereal. Add a few raindrops and some dramatic structure and foliage and you have everything needed to make this a fantastic post. Thanks. I agree a series on the garden would be excellent.

    3. Thanks for the sweet comments, Kris....yes - I imagine you meant "shots"....tee hee...Happy New Year to you all!

  3. Jeanne DeBenedetti Keyes11:15 AM PST

    Gorgeous photos! I love that misty look, off into the distance. Nice new sign. That's great. I've always felt like I am going to drive right past the nursery! Lovely colors in the garden.

    1. The mist! It's pretty amazing - especially on Sauvie Island which is a hot spot for birds (and super flat - lots of water) so we get that eerie mist thing often. The sign is so cool, I really love it.

  4. Anonymous11:31 AM PST

    Taking a leisurely stroll on a foggy winter day in a fantastic garden... I can't think of a better way to spend time.
    The picture of Chief Josef makes my spirit sing. I coveted that tree from the first time I saw it, ages ago, in Seattle's NW Flower and Garden show, early in my gardening days. My 3 year old tree has a (long) way to go, but I'm delighted to see what it can become.
    Getting a chance to see and photograph the barred owl has to be a Wow moment. I love that photo.

    1. It was a lovely way to spend the solstice. I'm a little jealous you have a 'Chief Joseph' - I've also wanted one for a long time but the price usually puts me off another year. Glad you have one though! Yes, the owl encounter was pretty cool.

    2. Anonymous1:18 PM PST

      I found my "Chief" in a local hardware store for under $40... about a foot long. It was so affordable I immediately snapped one up.
      In my local nursery, a 2' tree is priced at $170. I'd never pay that!

    3. Oh, that gives me hope, Chavli. I'll look out at my local stores. Yes, $170 is out of budget but under $40? Yes, please.

  5. You've captured why this is one of my favorite times of year - the misty fog, the gentle sunlight, bursts of color amongst more muted russets and grays.

    1. Isn't it dreamy? You are a kindred spirit, Jerry.


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