Saturday, August 13, 2011

Swansons Nursery, not the same place it used to be...

Since my early morning visit to Molbak’s was so fun I decided to end the day (after the Fling events wrapped up) with a visit to another favorite nursery of my past, Swansons. Unfortunately things have changed, gone is the charm. The old buildings that used to have so much character are replaced by steel and glass. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fine nursery, just not the one I remember. If given the chance I would have taken this stool home with me (chance meaning free!) Do you know about this plant, Morina longifolia, or Whorl Flower? Isn’t it crazy that those big drooping blooms come from these little spiky leaves? Ah, Macleaya cordata (Plume Poppy)! I rarely see these in nurseries. Limonium latifolium (Sea Lavendar) the leaves are very cool, the blooms not so much. Astelia nivicoia 'Red Gem'…I recently bought one of these at Cistus. I love Astelia but since our winters turned colder haven’t been able to plant one in the ground. Sean Hogan (Cistus) has this one in his parking strip and it’s lived through the winters. Wish me luck… Love the green glass bamboo stuck in the Hakonechloa… And there is nothing like a big leafed Tetrapanax to set the mood. Yep…I would take this happy chair in orange or green… Manihot esculenta 'variegata' judging by the tag it’s from Rare Plant Research, good to know they’re selling as far north as Seattle! Those blooms! That foliage! Pineapple Guava may be going on my wish list. How can you not want the after effects of the Callistemon blooms in your garden? I love this sign: “Yucca! –make an excellent substitution for New Zealand Flax. They are very cold hardy and ridiculously drought tolerant.” In other words we are all mourning the fact that New Zealand Flax is no longer reliable for us here. Rhamnus 'Fine Line' Remember the Stachyurus salicifolia I feel in love with at Molbak’s here it is again…at Swansons! Twice in one day… And the last temptation of the day…Sambucus racemosa 'Sutherland Gold' (Edlerberry)…look at those cut leaves!!! So many plants…so little space!


  1. I can vouch for two of these plants. I bought this Sambucus last fall at Garland's plant sale. It's a winner. And the Pineapple Guava I've had for several years. It gets a bit of winter dieback but by and large stays evergreen. ... Sorry the nursery has lost its original charm. Kind of sad, isn't it?

  2. Looks like you have a solid nursery addiction... me too... Here I am on a sunny beautiful day in an already overpacked garden thinking to myself, I wonder what else is out there... It's dangerous to the wallet, and one's free time, as in after you take it home it's another mouth to feed. I've pretty much been to every nursery on the island.. Looks like no shortage of cool places to visit in your area... Jealous!

  3. Is there a Yucca with dark red leaves? If there is, I just might be tempted. The one thing I don't actually like about Yucca is their flowers, which is strange, because I love all sorts of other flowers.

    I think maybe I need a Pineapple Guava too. And a Callistemon.

    Thanks for showing Swanson's Nursery. It's one nursery in the area that I haven't been to yet, so I should. In fact, I am even closer to Jungle Fever, I should check them out too.

  4. The one thing that can be said for their new look is that they must be doing well. Not many nurseries can say that in this economic climate, so more power to them. Do I detect a glass fetish creeping in to displace your "no art in my garden" stance?

  5. You never cease to amaze me with your gardening style. I am learning so much from you..Thanks. Sorry the nursery didn't have that 'old' charm that your remembered. I'm waiting on your snail mail address...:)

  6. I was wondering about this nursery. Of course I beg Pete to take me to any and every nursery if we are out dropping off wine samples and talking to folks.

    I made it to City People's and I walked away with an amazing gigantic Chinese evergreen fern on this trip: Blechnum chilense. Do you know it?

    Will have to check Swanson's out whenever I visit again.

  7. Cool plants. I love the glass bamboo!

    Here pineapple guavas are fairly common. Very pretty small trees, but everyone and their brother is perpetually offering up pineapple guavas. "Never eat them," we say. "Yeah, me neither," the offerer inevitably admits. Perhaps you would be lucky and just get the beautiful small tree, without the fruit.

    I can't wait to get rid of all my Phormiums. They nearly always revert to the species, and get full of mealy bugs which then attack my Echeverias. And we all know Echeverias are more important than Phormiums. Go Yucca!

  8. Grace, it really was very sad. It was such a magical space, I wish I had pictures that I could share. But yes! The plants...glad to know you've had good experiences with them. I as I mentioned somewhere else I'm looking at my tiny bit of lawn, and wondering where I'll start digging next (to make room for more plants of course!).

    Nat, nursery addiction? YES! There is nothing like wandering and discovering something new. But then yes as you point out there is the wallet, and the time to plant and take care of it...but still, loving every minute of it.

    Alison, dark purple yes! Dark red, haven't seen that one yet. I've heard that about the flowers from others, but I love them. I was really surprised we didn't see more Callistemons on the Fling garden tours...I only saw two, they are such great plants!

    ricki, have a good point. Lord knows seeing any nursery doing well is a good thing. As for the glass, funny. I have to admit I liked how these looked...but I've never been one to enjoy glass art of any kind in the house (I even avoid glass vases). Perhaps your on to something though...we'll see!

    Darla, that is one of the best things I've read in a while! (that you are learning from my posts). Thank you! And thank you again for the plant offer!

    Ann, nice score on the fern! I love City Peoples...luckily it hasn't changed at all. I hope you make it to Swansons, I'll be curious to hear what you think.

    Hoover, funny I didn't even consider the fruit! I doubt our climate is conducive to fruiting, or maybe that's just me being stupid. I saw a really gorgeous Phormium in a garden last week...made me weepy. Maybe I'll need to dedicate a spot in the garden for my annual Phormium.

  9. As a garden center manager I have enjoyed your recent posts, though they have left me with a slight sense of inadequacy. These nurseries are full, have a diverse selection and the displays look great. Then I have to remind myself that August at local garden centers may as well be January. I will channel my feelings into renewed efforts to get the place cleaned up and ready for fall.

  10. I, too, miss the old Swanson's. It used to be a favorite--right up there with Dig! (Vashon) and Savage Plants (Kingston). But, even further north, there's an excellent option--Christianson's, in Mt. Vernon, is incredibly charming in much the same way as was Swanson's but even more so!



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