Monday, January 18, 2021

Cistus Nursery visit, in January

Every year I make a point of visiting Cistus Nursery in January. It's a mood-lifting teaser for the growing season ahead. 

Many years I've visited bundled up against the cold—toes numb by the time I climb back in my car and crank up the heater. During those visits the nursery stock is all tucked in for the season, behind sliding doors and near heaters. When I visited earlier this month there was none of that, our winter continues to surprise with warm (for winter) temperatures and sunny days "sprinkled" throughout. I am not complaining…

Of course visiting a nursery in January is a great way to get inspired and clued in to plants that will dress up your winter garden, like this Garrya elliptica.

Or a mahonia, like this one (perhaps Mahonia x media 'Charity'?) which is blooming in the shady garden at the front of the nursery.

Nearby the fronds of a Chamaerops humilis are doing a most excellent "jazz hands" thing.

This scene supports the illusion I've walked miles through a jungle and there's a village ahead...

Alas it's a village selling plants, which of course is fine with me.

Agave 'Burnt Burgundy' 

Agave montana

Agave montana backed by Yucca 'Blue Sentry'.

Does this look like January in Portland? No. The answer is no.

There's one in every crowd, right?

Sweet! (someone please breed a cyclamen with orange flowers!)

Camellia sasanqua 'Setsugekka'

The bamboo grove to the north of the nursery proper has been cleared out a little over the last year or so. It's absolutely gorgeous now...

Looking back to where I've just been.

Inside the "Big-Top" now, where I stop to lust after this giant staghorn fern. I used to hate them, but I am coming around, slowly.

More plant fun in the "Big-Top"...

Things are very spiky!

Small Agave bracteosa...

x Mangave 'Failing Waters'

A look back...

Before we head outside again...

Beschorneria decosteriana backed by a eucalyptus.

Perhaps Kniphofia x 'Christmas Cheer'?

And now I'm further back on the property and in the private garden of Sean Hogan and Preston Pew, aka "Rancho Cistus". I came to drop off a copy of Fearless Gardening, but of course stopped to take photos of the plants in the desert island. Agave 'Sharkskin' I presume.

I threatened to count the agaves...

Agave ovatifolia

But the light was fading fast. So no counting on this trip, but I promised to return and do so this summer. I was told there would be even more then.

Nice combination, Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph' with a tall Yucca rostrata.

The front of Sean and Preston's house...

And just like that the sun has fallen further and it's time for me to head home.

But not before I stop at the edge of the Sauvie Island bridge to snap a photograph of Mt Hood in the distance. There are several places around town where you get an unobstructed view, but today it was especially nice, glowing even...

Weather Diary, Jan 17: Hi 52, Low 39/ Precip 0 

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Visiting nurseries in January is a sure mood elevations for me as well. Nice comment about the "jazz hands"... I could practically hear the music. A winter-blooming Kniphofia is as shocking to me as an evergreen Adiantum... I learn something new every day.
    I'm not often charmed by Opuntia, but those blushing round pads are something.

    1. Glad to hear you can sometimes recognize the charms of an Opuntia!

  2. That was a pleasant stroll. I wish there were more destination nurseries here with gardens that give buyers a good idea what the plants they sell will look like in situ rather than potted in neat rows. The sunny day does look more like California than Oregon but then I've read that, due to climate change, SoCal will someday look like Baja so maybe Portland will become the new SoCal ;)

    1. While the idea of a SoCal winter is tempting what I think is more likely is that it will approach the SoCal ideal some of the time and then the cold will come in and wipe everything out, just to remind us we're not actually in SoCal.

  3. Woof!
    The real instant cure for feeling like you haven't seen anything new or exciting in plants for a bit... a quick look at Cistus.

  4. I wish we had a nursery that was laid out like a garden. Those potted plants would look more appealing. I love the Burnt Burgundy Agave.

    1. We're lucky that a lot of (most of?) our nurseries just outside the city have display gardens.

  5. I bet your toes weren't too cold on this visit. Nice photos too. I especially love the chandelier in big top. :)

  6. Honestly, I wouldn't know where to begin! I'd be called in twelve different directions. This post is better than catalog browsing any day.

    1. Visiting has gotten less distracting over the years, as I've already got my own little Cistus inventory here.

  7. The shades of green look so rich in the winter sunshine. I'm planning to make my annual birthday trip to Cistus very soon and hope I'm half as lucky with the weather.

    1. Oh! Happy Early Birthday!!! I hope you get a nice day and find lots of things you have to have, being the birthday girl.

  8. What is in the pot next to “A look back”? Drooping thin thin leaves to the ground. Also, I LOVE your book! Jim North Tabor

    1. Thanks Jim! And I believe that's a bamboo.

  9. I want some of the those jazz fingers.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!