Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Visiting the O’Byrnes nursery and garden…


If you’re a hellebore lover the names Ernie & Marietta O'Byrne are legendary. They’re the plant breeders behind most of the spectacular hellebores now on the market. Their nursery just outside Eugene, Oregon, Northwest Garden Nursery, is only open to the public two weekends a year. I visited on March 8th.

While I do appreciate the beauty inherent in a spring blooming hellebore I am by no means a fanatic. I would have never considered venturing 2+ hours south just for the chance to purchase from the source. No I was the odd woman out who just came down to look at the garden, and not even the hellebores! My desire to visit was based on an article I read in the most recent Pacific Horticulture Magazine "Success with Dry Plants in Wet Conditions," written by Mary-Kate Mackey. Luckily since Pacific Horticulture puts their content online you can read it too (and check out pictures of the garden in high summer). As it turns out the object of my interest was the last part of the garden I visited and I really enjoyed the journey.

I started my tour by checking out the plants for sale, and even though I arrived just a couple of hours after opening on Saturday it was almost empty! This was the second weekend of their open garden and they were hit hard the first weekend.

There were several goregous plants with tags like this in them, their owners off touring the garden and leaving their loot behind.

The people in line to pay had overflowing carts...

And there were several people confused by sights like this, so many plants but not for sale.

Time to tour!

This is a very large garden and there was much to see...

This is just a tiny portion of the podophyllum pushing out of the ground.

There were dozens of trillium in bloom...

And even a schefflera! (with a Cistus label tucked in the ground) I should mention Marietta said their garden got down to -10F in December. She named a long list of plants that had died and been hauled away, while this one isn't looking it's best it looks pretty darn amazing considering.

And yes, there were plenty of these...

Crossing back over the main drive let's take a look at the area around the house.

That was a tall screen of bamboo separating the house and front garden from a busy road. Most of it was brown. What a job to clean that up, I hope they don't loose their screen entirely.

That bamboo looked a little better.

I feel a little like I'm sharing to much information but that set of french doors opened off what appeared to be their bedroom, what a lovely place to sleep on a summers night!

Perhaps Podophyllum 'Kaleidoscope'? (thanks Adam)

For a moment I couldn't tell what that mop headed business at the end of the path was, but I was definitely curious.

Aha!

This one really confused me, that foliage was perfection. I could only think it was some sort of euphorbia but it's actually Fritillaria persica.

Jeffrey Bale has been here...

Little baby hellebores...

And finally, we have arrived at our destination!

That foliage again!

Things are looking pretty darn good for early March coming off a disastrously cold winter.

However there were several manzanita that didn't make it.

This pruning job was responsible for quite the entertaining conversation I was lucky to overhear. One person was just sure these were pineapples, growing right here in the ground in Oregon! Her friend wasn't so sure. There were several back and forths but finally the pineapple theorist won the argument.

Another fatality, Garrya elliptica.

Another visitor commented this was the largest "hen and chick" he's ever seen.

Finally a glimpse in another green house and a future crop of hellebores...

Oh wait, I bought something! I had no intention, especially when the pickings were so slim. But this beautiful plant was waiting for me, somehow passed up by the others. Jade Tiger...

I love green flowers and the fact the purple splotches are on the top of the petals.

If you are nearby I highly recommend a visit to Northwest Garden Nursery, either arranged in advance (they are not open to the public regular hours) or try to make it to their open garden event next year!

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

25 comments:

  1. What a cool place! "The largest hen and chick," LOL What a bummer about all the winter damage. That is a lovely Hellebore.

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    1. Indeed, the winter damage was bad, however the garden was still amazing.

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  2. A great garden with something for everyone! I know how you like those huge hen and chick things! pineapples in the PNW, who would have guessed it? Your new hellebore is gorgeous!

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    1. It is, I am so happy I bought it.

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  3. I'm so jealous of those flower buds on the 'Persica' …I'll be ordering more bulbs , I must have duff ones.

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    1. They were planted so densely I bet when they burst into flower it will be amazing! I hope you have better luck with your new bulbs.

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  4. Beautiful! I love the area around the mop head, and the two pictures after the French door shot (you peeper). The Cyclamen graecum around that giant "hen and chick is high on my wishlist. I want to find a source for seed. Must. Hold. Back. Must not make sarcastic comment about the pineapple argument. No one can know everything, after all. I'll be nice.

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    1. As I listened to the back and forth on the pineapple I found myself wondering what equally crazy things I've said in a similar situation. I'm sure there are several!

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  5. Hellebores. And spring.

    We are in first summer here in Phoenix. How I miss spring.

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    1. I often find my self thinking I would happy give up spring if it meant no winter.

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  6. I like Hellebores and have quite a few in my garden - out in the back garden I have white, yellow, green and purple flowered ones and in the front garden I have purple and red ones. I like the flowers on them, but to be honest I am more interested in the leaves. My favourite is my Helleborus multifidus "Cally Jade", it's a delightful wee thing.

    Those Fritillaria persica look fab. I googled them and they said that they are hardy bulbs and flower in April. There looks to be a few nurseries in the UK that sell them. What happens after they flower? Will the foliage be gone by mid-summer?

    The big Yucca in the arid garden look in great condition. Did they really survive -10F? That's impressive.

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    1. Mark and Gaz (just below) say yes, the foliage fades mid spring. And yes I agree, pretty darn impressive what things did survive!

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  7. I was about to say until I read your commentary that the garden/nursery is looking good despite the low temps they have experienced. Those Frittilarias look great, looking almost like a protea/leucadendron. Have tried them before but Lilly beetles devoured them viciously the moment they leafed out. Foliage fades away by mid spring.

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    1. I was tempted to try to find some of those frittilaria immediately, but I'm just not a spring bulb gardener since I can't handle the fading foliage.

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  8. Those are really nice and big pineapples...I wonder if pineapple juice from those specimens will taste good :). Also the large hen and chick made me smile.
    I like the flowers of the hellebore you purchased...
    I also like how the Yucca rostrata seems to be wearing a long skirt down to its feet!

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    1. I prefer the trimmed look on Yucca rostrata but do appreciate this one has managed to grow to that height and retain all of it's leaves. I wonder if you can get juice from a yucca root? Probably, but the taste...I just can't imagine it would be good.

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  9. This is not helping me feel horrid for missing the show this year, but I'm delighted you wrote about your visit. I've always wanted to visit this nursery. It's so impressive. Thank you for the walk through and for sharing the conversations you overheard. Very humorous!

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    1. You'll just have to be sure to attend next year, and go the first weekend if you're hoping to buy. (glad you enjoyed the walk through)

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  10. Eavesdropping does produce some gems. I'm thinking of the young couple outside the Rodin museum in Paris: "Well, that was just...OB-SKEEN!".
    This looks like a lovely garden to visit. I wonder if it is open later in the season? I care not one whit for hellebores. I seem to remember photos of it in full summer with a space all set up to sleep out under the stars.

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    1. Did you go to Marietta's talk for the HPSO? I could listen to her for hours. I think you could schedule a visit later in the season...

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  11. I did not catch that one. Here's hoping there will be a repeat one day.

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  12. Fun tour. A testament to what can and cannot handle a week of winter's extremes. Love the hellebore score.

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  13. Hahaha, the overheard comments are so great!

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  14. The garden tour is pretty fabulous. I love the "hairy" container plant on the column and the mosaic circular patio. The overheard comments, particularly about the pineapples, were hilarious. However did you stop yourself from enlightening them?

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  15. Loved this garden and the tour. What fun you had overhearing conversations too.

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