Cistus Nursery

The second installment of my recent visit to Oregon and Washington (or How I Mispronounced Botanical Latin for Six Days While Touring Gardens and Nurseries of the Pacific Northwest).
My own peculiar zonal filter can’t help but color these posts; for example, I did feel a special affinity for our next destination, Sean Hogan’s nursery Cistus on Sauvie Island, a marvelous nursery I’ve visited a couple times before and hope to visit many times again. This sign at Cistus neatly sums up the reasons why I find this nursery so horticulturally sympatico.


Our group represented gardens from zones 5 through 10. There was lots of overlap in the plants we admired, just differences in the lengths we have to go to care for some of them.



And then there was the vicarious thrill from everyone’s plant choices. The dark-leaved Daphne houtteana made the transcontinental flight back to a garden on the East Coast.
Sean feels scent is paramount in a garden and I completely agree, but I killed my last daphne years ago.


The sea hollies are a particular favorite of mine, and I’ll always remember them as one of the signature plants of this visit.
This giant at Cistus is Eryngium latifolium, which Sean said is second in size only to Erygium pandanifolium.


Wonderful against the steely blue leaves of eucalyptus and Yucca rostrata


It did lightly drizzle during our visit to Cistus, which limited photo-ops somewhat. Normally, Portland gets scant summer rain.
Even so, a skilled plantsman like Sean knows how to obtain a lush effect from climate-appropriate plant choices.
I’m wondering now if the blue leaves mid-photo aren’t Kniphofia caulescens.


Towering, shaggy bamboo


More summer-drought lushness. Genista showering golden blooms over the green flower umbels of thoroughwax, Bupleurum falcatum.
An araucaria, the Monkey Puzzle Tree, can just be glimpsed in the center of the photo.


Brody dutifully herded us along while Sean pointed out the botanical bounty of Cistus.
I do think Brody was a tad smitten with Sue, who blogs at Idyll Haven.


At this point in the trip, I was still under the delusion that flying plants back home to California was verboten.


Good thing this delusion lasted until the last day of the trip, or I would have probably thrown all my clothes away in an attempt to shove a couple Crambe maritima in the carry-on bag.


Enormous cardoons, Cynara cardunculus, legacy of a prank played on Sean by the late Christopher Lloyd, who sneakily described the gift of young plants as smallish, dainty, front-of-the-border plants.
The punchline came a year or so later: Surprise, they’re gigantic! Gotta love horticultural humor.


(More botanical tit-for-tat: Sean gifted Lloyd’s Great Dixter with its first hardy banana, Musa basjoo, which Lloyd infamously planted where the rose garden had grown for decades.
When Lloyd ripped out the rose garden to grow tropicals, the English gardening public was aghast, and many regarded the move as heretical.
Sean must have thoroughly enjoyed the ensuing controversy.)

But enough gossip and dawdling! Three more days to go…

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8 Responses to Cistus Nursery

  1. ks says:

    Love the photo of Sue and Brody..If only I dared acquire Crambe maritima.Bought 8 plants this trip and was waved across the border “ah go ahead, none of those are restricted” . I always hold my breath after the Welcome to California sign !

  2. I’m still giggling at the subtitle… oh, do I know how to mispronounce botanical Latin along with the best of them! 🙂

    By the way, I regularly have just a few little crambe maritima seedlings in my garden each spring–not because it’s a thug, but rather because weeks go by before I remember to deadhead them, because the flower branches are so pretty. It’s too late to save you some seed from this year’s bloom, but I can certainly dig you up a baby or two in April or May if you are interested.

  3. Sue says:

    Call me the pied piper of pastry. It was the trail of crumbs Brody was following, not me.

    Does anybody really know how to pronounce botanical latin? After all, when I’m unsure I just assume the person who possesses the most confidence in speaking aloud is correct.

    Sean was so welcoming and generous with his time. Too bad it takes a day of air travel to get back.

    Looking forward to your next installment…

  4. rosekraft says:

    What a great nursery!
    Just ordered an Impatiens flanaganae from them (over the phone) – it was pretty easy and I’ll probably do it again.

  5. Oh I love seeing what caught your eye at Cistus! While you’re wondering if the blue leaves are Kniphofia caulescens (I think you’re right, and how do you pronounce Kniphofia?) I’m wondering what the fabulous curly “shrub” is right above it. I’ll have to go out to Sauvie Island and have a look-see, while I’m there maybe I’ll buy a couple of Crambe maritima in your honor.

    (I love the pictures of a love-struck (or pastry hungry) Brodie!)

  6. Denise says:

    @Kathy, I brought home 8 plants too — at least you were driving!
    @Kim, I am so interested, so I’ll contact you in spring and see if there’s any seedlings. Thanks for the offer!
    @Sue, with Latin, something about more than two syllables in a word and all bets are off. I can never remember where the emphasis is supposed to go. And wish I’d remembered to mention the pastry Sean kindly provided!
    @rosekraft, I’m contemplating an order to Cistus myself!
    @Loree, there was tons more detail to see, just didn’t get enough photos.

  7. Cindy Hoover says:


    (That daphne is on my Fantasy List now, however you pronounce it!).

    -Cindy H.

  8. Deanne says:

    Oh my, more botanical wonders that I missed. I can’t get over the eryngium, fantastic. I’d love those Crambe but I’m sure they are not hardy here. what great color and form.

    Sue, lol, love that you go with whomever is speaking with the most confidence. Sounds like a great plan to me.

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