Monday, October 18, 2021

Saying goodbye to Joy Creek Nursery, so many great memories

It was with a heavy heart that I walked the display garden at Joy Creek Nursery for the very last time...

I'd (coincidently) planned a trip out to the nursery on the same morning the announcement was made they'd be closing for good come November 7th—it's finally time for the hardworking owners of this local gardening institution to be able to put the store to bed and retire. I had so many friends to visit! 

Obviously the people, I mean I can't think of the nursery and not think of Maurice and Mike or my friends that have worked there over the years, like Tamara—but also the plants, the ones I visit every time I'm there. Above is the Dasylirion wheeleri that bloomed July of 2020, still looking rather stately. Below are the amazing Agave neomexicana that grow by the basement entrance to the house and the headquarters for the nursery business.

Of all the amazing plants in the Joy Creek gardens it's these I will miss the most. They are just spectacular. Perfectly planted...

I have no idea what this beauty is but the sun started to emerge as I walked by and that foliage just begged to have it's photo taken. 



Bam! That's a lot of color...


Seed spike in the kniphofia patch.

The blue sky that appeared as I walked the garden was quite welcome. Our amazing summer has quickly faded into a cold and wet autumn. Too much too soon.




This photo is to remind myself to thin out the dense branches on my loquat. Being better able to see each of those large pleated leaves might just be worth loosing some of them (can't see the forest for the trees?).

As I admired the sculptural trunks to these shrubs/trees I remembered the late winter day Mike, Maurice and Tamara invited the Portland Garden Bloggers group out to the nursery for a lesson in pruning. It was a fun (if chilly) afternoon.

Then I turned and my gaze fell upon the open area that was frequently used as an outdoor classroom. I've watched Richie Steffen build fern tables here, listened to Judith Jones talk fern talk, bought plants from Far Reaches Farm and even myself been the one to talk as part of a panel discussion on garden blogging. Kudos to Maurice for understanding that blogs and social media can be a community builder.

I also need to give thanks to Maurice for encouraging me as a garden writer. I'd agreed to write for the Oregon Association of Nurseries magazine, Digger, and one of the stories I was assigned had me interviewing him. He took the time to answer every question I had, and was encouraging and supportive. I was making it up as I went but Maurice acted as though I was a pro. His confidence gave me confidence.

Here's the view of the nursery barn as you approach via the driveway through the garden.


The morning I took these photos I stopped at Means Nursery first. I mean that's just what you do. For years my route has been to turn right at Means, shop, then franticly dash across Highway 30 to travel up the road to Joy Creek, and then on the way back into Portland take the Sauvie Island bridge turn and visit Cistus. So not only was this a good-by to Joy Creek but also to Means, as I can't imagine I'll visit there as often. Anyway (getting to the point of my story now), I mentioned to the person at Means that Joy Creek was closing. She was shocked, the first thing she mentioned was the bamboo, had I walked through it? There was nothing quite like it, she said, and I agreed.

As is frequently the case at great gardens learned a few things that day. Meet Persicaria 'Brush Strokes', I have this plant but it's not nearly this amazing. It needs more sun. Noted. I will be moving mine.

Joy Creek is known for many things among them clematis, fuchsia, and hydrangea. I paused to admire the hydrangea...

And then crossed back over to the garden in front of the home, the presence of which has always made the garden seem so much more private than public.



Wowsa!


Another shot of the bloom-spike on the Dasylirion wheeleri, now that the sun has come out.

Of course I have to include a photo of the small patch of lawn, famous for the gravel treatment so many of us have either done or—in my case—plan to do (here)...

And finally, it was time to shop...

Oh shoot well, one last garden photo as this striking Amsonia hubrichtii was snuggled up next to the shopping tables.

Euonymus nanus var. turkestanicus, a plant I have in my garden thanks to Joy Creek...

A plant I wish I had in my garden, Oxydendrum arboreum.

Melicytus alpinus, another plant I have thanks to Joy Creek.

Persicaria affinis, how cute is this? Ya, I didn't by any dammit.

Lespedeza thunbergii, yep, another cutie that stayed behind.


Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem', I've admired this beauty in Tamara's garden but just don't have a good spot for a plant so small now, that will eventually grow to be quite large.

Eryngium umbelliferum


Fern tables! My love of fern tables started because of the ones at Joy Creek...

So what did I buy that day? A lot of saxifraga, Joy Creek has been my go to for those fabulous little plants and I selected what I wanted to buy, and then went back and got more. I also grabbed a Grevillea × gaudichaudii, and a Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki'.

I took my plants to the car, looking at the edge of the garden and trying not to over think how significant the moment was.

The last few years have brought so many changes to my plant-centric world, this is the latest. It's hitting me hard. Thank you to the Joy Creek family who have been so welcoming all these years. I miss you already...

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

31 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your memories and for one last photo-heavy post from Joy Creek. I've only been there once, during the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling, but I feel like I knew Joy Creek well from the many posts you and other Portland-area folks had written over the years.

    It's sad day when a nursery closes its doors, but even worse when it's a beloved institution like Joy Creek. Even though I perfectly understand Maurice and Mike's desire to retire...

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    1. As I was writing this post I thought back to my first ever visit to the nursery, I remember not being all that impressed. Ha! What was I thinking?

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  2. A beautiful tribute. 😢

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  3. It is such a sad occasion. I hope to make it out one last time. I've never stopped by Means nursery. Maybe I should do that.

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    1. There are usually some great deals to be found at Means.

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  4. I'm sad just reading this post. Plants from a beloved nursery are the best way to remember the place and, in addition to those you recently purchased, I expect you have many of these in your garden.

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  5. Oh wow - Joy Creek closing? I have been shopping there for as long as I can remember, although it has been a while since I visited. I need to stop by before they close. So sad...

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    1. I only made it out there a few times a year but I will miss it so. Go!

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  6. Thank you for this and best wishes to all at JC — what a class act!

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  7. I was so sorry to hear they are shutting their doors. I remember what a beautiful visit we had during the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling. It's a wonderful nursery, and they can retire knowing they meant a lot to many gardeners near and far.

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    1. I suspect the well wishes are pouring in from around the world.

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  8. Having lost my two favorite nurseries, I sympathize with you. It is hard to lose the plant purchases, but much more so to say goodbye to the people, events and expertise.

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    1. I told Maurice I was inviting myself to see his personal garden this spring. He was always so busy that I didn't feel right intruding.

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  9. **sniff** thank you, Loree. Your beautiful face will be missed at Joy Creek. We are honored to count you as a friend to the nursery, Maurice especially sings your praises, well, we all do. Cheers.

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  10. This is sad indeed. I've never been to Joy Creek, but like Gerhard, I feel I know it through you. It will live on in memories, shared experiences and through the plants folks purchased, setting roots for miles around. A good legacy to have!

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    1. There are so many Joy Creek plants out there in the world! Hopefully some enterprising nursery will pick up their collections and carry them on.

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  11. Oh a what a sad blow to the horticultural community. Losing such an iconic small nursery and the friends made there is hard. A beautiful tribute to their lifes work.

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    1. Iconic, that's the perfect word. You understand.

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  12. End of an era, sorry there won't be more of your tours there to enjoy. Time marches on!

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    1. Yes it does... a good thing to remember and take nothing for granted.

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  13. I just wondered if the owners of the nursery are going to stay living at the garden or "retiring" totally. I can see all the love and hard work in the photos of their garden that you have posted over time, Loree.

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    1. Only one of them lives there and I do believe he is staying.

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    2. Thanks Loree. A lot of work to continue in the garden itself but such a treasure!

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  14. The big-leafed plant in your fifth (?) photo is Clerodendrum bungei. Beautiful foliage and fruit, but spreads rather aggressively by root suckers.

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  15. Thank you for posting these wonderful photos. Wishing I had taken photos, too. I have made an annual visit or more to Joy Creek for over 20 years. So sad to hear this news of their closing. Maurice and the other staff have always been so welcoming and helpful. The garden paths were always such a joy to stroll. What a loss for our garden community, but I wish Maurice and crew the very best and send heartfelt gratitude for freely sharing their beautiful garden and knowledge over these many years.


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