After I hung up from talking with my mom I started to feel a little sad that I (once again) wasn’t with her on Mother’s Day. So of course I did what any one would do and got in the car and went off to visit a nursery! I’ve blogged about Marbott’s in NE Portland a time or two in the past. It’s a charming, if a little rough around the edges place, and it reminds me of a couple nurseries back in Spokane. Nurseries I would have dragged my mom to if I were there visiting her. Besides the sentimental pull it’s also about time to buy my annual Papyrus and Marbott’s is where I’ve always gotten them. As luck would have it they still had a few. You can barely make out four gallon sized containers between the big leafy green stuff on the left and the purple "festival" grass on the right. Actually I’m pretty sure I’m still buying from the same inventory as that first one 4 years ago, the plants just keep getting older and knarlier! It’s nice that they keep them tucked away just for me. I was also tempted by some very large Umbrella Palms, or Cyperus involucratus. Unfortunately this is where the “rough around the edges” part rears its ugly head. There was no price on them…it’s about a 50/50 chance at Marbott’s that something will be priced. Later when I saw one of the owners I asked and was told $9.95. Great! Only to be told $19.95 by his mother (it’s a family affair) when I went to buy it. She “kindly” offered to split the difference with me at $15.95 (even though actually splitting the difference would have been 14.95 right?). This kind of thing is frustrating and you have to be ready to deal with it if you shop here.
Last week I mentioned my trip to Joy Creek Nursery to buy Saxifraga macnabiana. Turns out I could have gotten it here! Bigger plants than Joy Creek and also more expensive. While most would probably grow this Rock Rose (Helianthemum hybrid, Henfield Brilliant) for the flower… I liked it for its foliage… I love the way they display their Hostas, not lined up in rows according to type but all grouped together. Every time I see it I want to buy them all and replicate this at home. There were several gorgeous Abutilons. But the black Petunias seemed to be getting all the Mother’s Day attention. I am a sucker for rich dark colored grasses. One of my favorite Ceanothus (I’ve bought two of them here), Pt. Reyes Ceanothus. You can look, but you cannot buy! Here’s another one of those frustrating bits. They reuse old pots and don’t always change the label. At least the old name got crossed out here…it would be nice to have the right name on there too! Hopefully nobody will mistake this Olive for a Japanese Maple. A similar issue has happened to me when I’ve went to buy something thinking it was the price marked ($9.95), only to be told no that’s an old pot, this plant is actually $11.95. You are probably wondering why I keep going back with stories like this? It’s the old time charm. This place is seriously old school. They aren’t slick, they are a family run business and they are working hard. They may have issues with their pricing and their container maintenance but they know their plants.
One of my favorite memories of this place was the day "the old guy" (as I hear everyone call him) was so excited about a new plant that he almost dragged me over to see it. Once we were standing in front of it all that there was to see were 6 or 8 plastic pots filled with soil and a sign they had made with a photo on it. No plant to be seen and they wanted $14.95 for them! Crazy. Well I love seeing someone so excited about a plant so I took a leap of faith and bought one. It was a Rodgersia pinnata 'Chocolate Wings'...the first time I'd ever heard of a Rodgersia and it wasn't until I got home and started researching it that I realized what a treasure I had been shown. I like visiting this nursery and I want them to stick around! Warts and all.
Ponytail Grass…I’ve never heard it called that, but it certainly seems to fit. Maybe even better than it’s more common common name Mexican Feather Grass! Besides my two Cyperus purchases (Cyperus papyrus and Cyperus involucratus) I seemed to be in a fire-dancing mood. Who knew? Both the rich dark grass (Uncinia, actually a sedge) which I bought a pair of… And the little Kniphofia hirsuta (at $2.95 I bought 3) were called Fire Dance. I didn’t realize this until I got home. What is the universe trying to tell me? Do I need to go fire dancing? Happy Mother’s Day mom, I wish we could have spent the day visiting nurseries together! Maybe next year?