Friday, August 12, 2011

Molbak's, 14 years later…

By my rough estimate it’s been 14 years since I’ve been to Molbak’s, maybe even 15. Located in Woodinville, Washington, 20 miles northeast of Seattle, it was a special outing for the frustrated Seattle apartment gardener of my 20’s. Back then they also ran a much smaller second store in the Pike Place Market, that location was magical!

I took advantage of being in Seattle for the Garden Bloggers Fling and instead of taking part in the Sunday morning farmer’s market trip I skipped out and headed to the nursery. Which by the way is huge, with three main spaces: an outdoor plant area, indoor plant area and a gift shop/home décor area. The best part is at this time of the year they are all one open continuous space, no walls or doors! In the gift area I spotted fake Tillandsias…silly! These plants are so easy care they are already practically fake. There was fake Black Mondo Grass too! Bright color is a definitely nursery trend these days, and Molbak's was working it well! Right into the Bromeliad section. Ah, the succulents! (indoor/under cover display) Guess how much for a glass Yucca? $4,000! Would you rather have an expensive plant you could kill, or break? Coral Aloe I think this one is an Agave lophantha? Agave Kissho Kan Agave Medio picta alba They even have a resident Saguaro! Estimated to be 80 years old and living at Molbak’s since 1975! A gorgeous Donkey Tail Sedum, a plant I meant to go back and buy. Not sure if the tongs were just meant to prove a point, or if they actually indented them to be used. Senecio x Kleiniformis Heading to the outside area I was reminded of their clever lighting fixtures! And this display reminds me that someday we want to create a green wall on the backside of our garage by cutting sections of old rain gutter and planting them. The outdoor succulents display... Love the striped Sempervivum! This is one way to make it easy to move your tender succulents when there is a frost warning. Plant them in a shopping cart! More color… The Monrovia branded area, nicely done! Accept… …why were the best (in my humble opinion) Monrovia plants, like this Schefflera taiwaniana, hidden away nowhere near this display? Tucked in the very back corner? The shame! The educational signs at Molbak's are very helpful. This one makes a good point about the hardiness of S. taiwaniana “As the plant acclimates and its stems become “woody,” it’s cold hardiness could improve”… This beauty is a Schefflera brevipedunculata... Why have I never seen this one before? And speaking of beautiful never before seen (or noticed?) plants, this is Stachyurus salicifolia or Willlow Leaf Stachyurus. “A newer, somewhat rare, shrub from China…..A sheltered site is best until its performance in the Northwest is better known.” I think it’s that last sentence that allowed me to walk away from it. Not that it wasn’t difficult. Very difficult. Lastly we have a little grouping of “the freaks”…the “not so cool kids” evidently. Of course all of them are represented in my garden! Besides the Genista aetnensis (Mt Etna Broom) there a few Opuntia… And a couple of sad, spindly Loquats. Of course there were tons of other more mainstream plants at Molbak's, all looking terribly healthy and happy, I just tend to gravitate towards the oddities. If you’re in the area I recommend a visit. I hope to be back again soon (maybe in 4 years, rather than 14).


  1. Would you rather have an expensive plant you could kill, or break?

    For $4000, I'd rather have an expensive plant I could sell.

  2. In early spring, those gutters are all full of geraniums, which make a glorious display of color after the beaten down gray of the winter.

  3. What a great nursery. From the looks of some of those plants I imagine the tongs are used. I believe I read that you wanted Mother of Millions but it wasn't for sale? I have one if you would like it...rusdar at hotmail dot com

  4. I dare not have breakable art, but the Chihuly effect in and around Seattle sets my heart aflutter.
    I much prefer that approach to a green wall (something about the vertical ones seems not quite right to me).

  5. Great post. Love all the "oddities."

  6. Mr S, can you even imagine? What would it be? And where would you sell it?

    Meg S, ah...that sounds fabulous! I've never been one to purchase geraniums for my own garden but I do love the Italian look of a bunch red geraniums all lined up!

    Darla, I would be afraid I'd do more damage with the tongs! And yes!!!! Thank you!!!

    ricki, exactly..."the Chihuly effect" is perfect. I worked in an office building downtown Seattle that had retail on the lower floors, along with a HUGE collection of Chihuly glass. People would stand at stare at it for hours!

    Grace, yay! I am glad that you can appreciate them!

  7. Didn't we see that very same glass agave in one of the private gardens we visited? Maybe the Lane garden?

    This looks like a really nice nursery. Detailed signage is essential. As you know, I don't mind the fake plants as much as you, probably because I have some rather dark rooms that nothing will live in. Those hanging gutters would look cool on the back of your garage.


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