Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A visit to Dancing Oaks Nursery

The Dancing Oaks Nursery booth is one of my favorites at every HPSO Plant Sale, so it reasons that I should probably visit the nursery right? Only one problem…its 78 miles from my home…almost 2 hours away in the middle of nowhere. But since I am doing the 2010 Unemployed Nursery Tour this seemed like the perfect time to finally get around to visiting.As I turned onto a dirt and gravel road I wondered if MapQuest was sending me to the right place. Thoughts of being lost in the Oregon wilderness crossed my mind. Feeling a little paranoid I checked my cell phone signal, week. Yikes.

Beautiful. But where the heck am I?
Ok…finally something that looked like maybe I was somewhere I was meant to be. After all the gate was open. That was a good sign right?
Yay! A nursery. And boy was I in for a treat! The smells and sounds of the country along with an amazing display garden and fabulous plants…heaven right?! First pictures from the display garden….
I was so happy to be visiting while the Eremurus were blooming. WOW, they were amazing.
A very bushy Magnolia macrophylla.
There were a few agaves in the landscape.
Asclepias speciosa or Showy Milkweed.
There was a Beschorneria blooming.
New red foliage on a large specimen size Cussonia paniculata, or Highveld cabbage tree.But the most amazing thing that I saw in the display garden were these….
Echium pininana…they were huge, can you tell by the picture? The kindly staff person who found me dumbfounded standing staring at these in utter amazement offered to dig up a couple of seedlings (there were no mature plants for sale) for me to try to grow. Wasn’t that nice? We’ll see, I don’t have great confidence but I’m sure going to try!

Venturing on into the nursery portion of my visit I discovered another fabulous find. Huge Puya coerulea for only $3.50! They were a little ‘shopworn’ with lots of dead crispy lower leaves that needed to be removed but hey….they were only $3.50!
I was a bit skeptical of the zone 8 declaration on the sign. And with good reason, when I got home and researched them I find that zone 9 is much more realistic. But again, for $3.50 I am willing to experiment and enjoy them as an annual if that’s how it works out!
Over in the trees section was this adorable sign…
And the tree it was on…
A green house…And the agave propagation area. (happiness!)
They had a few very healthy Manfreda 'Macho Mocha'
And red pitcher plants…Sarracenia X 'Red Bug'
The chartreuse version.
And it was time to enter the greenhouse labeled….Jurassic Park!...oh boy…
They weren’t kidding!
And look at the tree ferns!
Evidently Australia and New Zealand were just around the corner!
Have you ever read a plant tag and felt like you were being challenged? I did when I read this one: “Melianthus villosus, a plant for the connoisseur with persistence for the search to acquire” (yikes! That’s me! I need this plant!!!)…But alas I resisted.
Another beauty, Darmera peltata.
And this little green house? Well those signs on the door read: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” and “Woe to thee who enter”…it looked to be a plant ER…or maybe worse. Maybe these are the plants that have been taken off life support and are either going to make it or not. I chose not to enter.
Love these Callistemon blooms.
The entire time I was in the nursery area the air was perfumed with the most amazing scent. I finally traced it to these beautiful white flowers. And I asked what they were, but unfortunately I forgot what they told me. They were heavenly.
So what did I buy? Well my husband has been captivated with the Cussonia paniculata or Highveld cabbage tree and here was a much larger specimen than we had seen for sale previously.
And I needed an Acacia pravissima.
Plus there were the little Echium seedlings and the Puyas (now happily planted and loving the 90 degree + heat we are getting this week)…
It was a great trip, and I will definitely be back! So since I was already hours from home do you think I turned around and went back to NE Portland, or did I continue on to another nursery for another plant shopping adventure? Right. Part II tomorrow…


  1. Wonderful travelogue! Such a great place and great people. I'm surprised you resisted the Melianthus - what, you don't like dinosaur plants with 5-foot black-maroon flower spikes? I am shocked!

  2. Gorgeous. Hey, was that a variegated Ginkgo biloba that you took 6 from the top? Matti

  3. kate, one word...(and it's a dirty one) BUDGET. God I hate that word.

    Matti, it is! Isn't it a beauty!?

  4. Matti beat me to it commenting on the varieg ginkgo. What a stunner. Eremus have got to be one of the most envied plants I can't grow. And that melianthus villosus plant tag is more like a fortune cookie message. I'm guessing that's darmera in the urn/water feature under the lavendar photo? Loree, hope the job status works out for the best, but for now I'm loving your road trips!

  5. Let me make the third comment about that var. Ginkgo, it caused me to drop my fork. I think your white blooming plant with the nice fragrance is a double flowered Philadelphus, at least that's what it looks like on this end.

  6. I'm shocked! Using such dirty foul mouthed language as 'Budget'! There look, what you've done, now I've said it!

    Honestly I love your 2010 unemployed nursery tour! You seek out and find the most interesting things and places!

  7. So glad you finally made the trek! The time I went, I left my (new at that time) camera at the checkout, and had to GO BACK!

  8. I didn't even know there were variegated Gingkos. Stunning.

    I agree with Les on the Philadelphus - looks right and the smell would be right too.

    The Cussonia paniculata is really cool.

  9. AnonymousJuly 07, 2010

    Bravo, bravo, girlfriend! It was a completely engaging tour. You did a fabulous job with the photographs and comments. So much so that I want to make another [twice already this season] trip. It's only a half hour from my place, so.... if someone would just drop a million dollars in my lap, I'm there.

    I loved seeing things through your eyes, your perspective. You're so right about the funny plant tags. ... They must have spent some time sprucing up Jurasic Park because from your photos it looks like there was a lot more room to move around. Those Echiums are amazing. I can see why you needed to have a few. My fingers are crossed that they'll bloom and set seed in case they don't winter over. ... Love that sky shot looking back over the valley. Makes me proud to be an Oregonian.

  10. Oh boy! I hope the puyas pull through because they're awesome! Thanks for the great photos of this nursery... I wish there were more like it here!

  11. Oh yeah, and that variegated gingko is absolutely amazing. Yeah.

  12. We're heading to Dancing Oaks in a week and your travelogue sure brought home why we love making the trip out to the middle of nowhere.

  13. Whoa!!! That Ginkgo is amazing! The other plants are pretty sweet too, but the Ginkgo... OMG!

  14. I was going to guess philadelphus for the flowering shrub, too. I've been thinking that I need some Darmeria for my garden. What a gorgeous lot of plants and landscapes at that nursery, thanks for sharing.

  15. Like everyone else, I LOVE that ginkgo! Also I loved: "I *needed* an Acacia pravissima." True gardeners like you define need very differently from the general public. Those Echium pininana leaves are stunning - oh for more room! Likewise the Darmera peltata - this native might even make it into Mr. Mulchmaid's part of the garden.

    Great tour! I can see I *need* to go!

  16. ok, that's IT lady. All your nursery visit posts have made me determined to find some far off nurseries down here to make a cheapo day trip getaway. I hope you're happy :9

  17. Denise, I think you are right about the Darmera in the urn...and yes the ginkgo was amazing. They had a few for sale but the one in the display garden was the best.

    Les, I hope there wasn't anything on the fork that made a mess! Yes, Philadelphus sounds right. It was amazing.

    Laura, I know...isn't it just a nasty word! Now don't you go using it again ok?

    ricki, go back? Why sounds like it might have been a plot from the very beginning!.....

    Andrew....yes and thanks on all three!

    Grace, only a half hour!? You lucky girl. Unfortunately my little Echiums will have to make it through the winter before they can bloom next year. But...they both are looking good and they will be small enough to easy protect so I am almost hopeful!

    Rainforest G, me too. I can't even imagine how cool it would be if they made it...don't even want to think about it because it's like I'm cursing it. (silly but true)

    Rick, lucky you! Sounds like you've been before so you know what lies ahead...

    Megan, perhaps I should have bought them all and resold them!

    VW, will the Darmeria grow for you? I know the sign said mom in the Spokane Valley is a Z5, she would love this plant though so if you have experience with it making it please tell me about it!

    MulchMaid...I am CERTAIN that you do NEED to go! Next week. Hope to hear about what you bought!

    Mary, go! Buy! And then tell us all about it.

  18. A serious case of plant lust is developing. I vowed at the last HPSO sale that I'd make a trip down to Dancing Oaks in the fall to stock up on some of the huge white eremerus. I can tell right now I'm going to buy too much of everything and have nowhere to put it all. And I might not be able to wait until fall.

  19. I didn't know I needed Acacia pravissima either, but I do now.

  20. Very nice photos. You even got Natasha(the cat) in the pergola shot. It was great to meet you at the nursery. I'm Brian & a Dancing Oaks Nursery employee. I do love working here and meeting neat folk like yourself to talk planty with, being a plant geek myself :)
    I'm sharing your blog on the nursery's new Facebook page. Come find us & say hello!


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