Thursday, April 14, 2011

Plant Nerd Road Trip - Part 1

When friend and fellow garden blogger Ryan Miller (gnomiscience) invited me on a bit of a nursery-touring, plant-shopping expedition this month, of course I didn't hesitate to accept! We met early in the morning at the house of Cistus owner Sean Hogan. My partners in crime: Ryan, Loree (Danger Garden), and Derick (Mr Impatiens). After a quick tour by Sean of his own yard, we were off on our adventure.

Xera Plants
Our first stop was Xera Plants, which, if you blink, you miss it. No signage, no fanfare...just greenhouse after greenhouse of AMAZING plants. I was overwhelmed by everything, just when I thought we must be at the end, I'd realize there were half a dozen more greenhouses to explore.

trio  049
From left to right, Ryan, Derick, and Loree

Greg, the co-owner was kind enough to take a moment to talk to us (and even kinder later to ring up our purchases). The employees were busy potting up plants and getting ready for the upcoming HPSO sale. I immediately spotted a 'Purple Smoke' Baptisia I'd been wanting for the back yard and made a mental note to grab one later.

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loree and ryan at xera  143
Greg, Co-OwnerLoree & Ryan on the hunt

manzanita   055
I wish I knew which Manzanita this was...Xera offers several. While some infatuations fizzle out after a while, my love of these plants continues to grow. I'm determined to plant one in our front parking strip next year...I just HAVE to have one...or two...maybe 5 ;-)

agave tray 1  043

succulent 1  044
AgavesSempervivum arachnoides

berberus  050
NOt sure what cultivar this is...and honestly, if Loree hadn't told me it was a Berberus, I would never have guessed. Apparently she saw one at the Chapel of the Chimes in N. Portland and inquired about it.

callistemon 2  054
I'd never been too impressed with these before, but seeing them here made quite an impact...just lovely, lovely plants. It doesn't hurt that the new growth is as soft as a kittens ear.

frog in cotinus  052
O, Smoke Tree, how do I love thee... I really wish I had room for one of these...that foliage is just amazing. Perhaps I'll find a spot yet...maybe if the horrible Laurel in the front yard dies by "accident".

mystery vine at xera 1  145

epimedium  151
Does anyone know what this is?Epimedium foliage

gladioulus  150
A Gladioulus to make me rethink how I feel about them. Dainty, elegant and oh-so-lovely. I think Ryan has some of these (and maybe grabbed a few here as well).

pitcher plant 2  149
Pitcher Plant
How can anyone not think these are cool!?!

epimedium 5  155
Pink Epimedium
In case you didn't know already, 2011 seems to be the year of the Epimedium.

epimedium 7  157
White Epimedium
I actually kind of liked this Epimedium the the subtle, sort of sombre two-tone white and dusky purple flowers.

So what did I get? Well...I wanted the Manzanita...but realizing it would likely sit on my porch all summer while I tried to figure out what to do with it, I settled on the Baptisia I mentioned earlier ('Purple Smoke') and a Ferula, a large, fennel-like plant that gets about 10' tall...rock on!

After paying for our purchases, we headed off to Bovees...a small specialty nursery that specializes in Vireya (tropical rhododendrons), something I had never really heard of. Nevertheless, it was a charming little nursery which felt more like a personal collector's garden that just happened to also sell plants.

mr impatiens  114
Derick and Owner
I was amazed at how eager the owners were to chat with us, they followed us around and urged us to check out the different areas and the greenhouse.

vireya greenhouse 8  132
To say the Vireya greenhouse was toasty would be an understatement! The structure was crammed full of plants I have never seen before...some had started to bloom and were quite lovely...really reminding me of a trip to Hawaii a few years ago, with their large, almost waxy blooms.

While the flowers were lovely, the foliage of some of the Vireyas was even better...covered with this strange, almost rusty-looking powder. I could swear once upon a time I knew what that was called...but it escapes me.

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vireya greenhouse 5  129
"Rusty" Vireya FoliageVireya Foliage

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Woodland plantings
Wandering around the property, there were many charming vignettes all around, the entire place feels like a somewhat idealized woodland, with Maidenhair Ferns, Anemones and Cyclamen popping up at random places.

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Pink Rhody (or Azalea...I never can tell) :-p

primula 2  135
Love that typical Primrose yellow color...subtle and cool.

exfoliating bark 1  112
Exfoliating Bark
I am terrible at ID'ing trees (amazingly, even worse than ID'ing shrubs) so can't remember what this was...but who the bark!

erythronium 3  134

cyclamen 1  116
To see an Erythronium is to love them...they are so dainty and lovely. What color are the blooms on these...who knows, but check out that AWESOME foliage! There was also an amazing array of Cyclamens in the garden...not many were blooming yet, but there were so many different shapes, colors and them all!

vireya greenhouse 1  125
As the first leg of our trip draws to a close, I leave you with a parting shot of the Vireya greenhouse.


  1. Wow! Such amazing photos. I especially like how you shot those agaves in their square-turned-into-diamond pots.

  2. great report Scott! I can't believe you didn't get more at Xera, your self control is in-human. I'm already thinking I should have bought more. I do have one of those Glads from Xera, via Garden Fever. It looks great right now. On this trip I also bough Gladiolus papilio, which is even better. Google it if you haven't already. Now I just need to find G. papilio 'Ruby'.

    I won't comment on how great the photos are, they always are, and I'm tired of mentioning it on every single post you do, which are all crammed with great photos. I'm just going to save myself some typing this time around and not mention your awesome photos. Looking forward to Part 2!

  3. Sounds like the PERFECT day. I'm always a little terrified going to great nurserys---I have little self control when there are interesting (and out of the ordinary) plants.
    Great photos!

  4. Looks like a fun trip - some CT and RI bloggers recently got together to visit Logee's greenhouses - we had so much fun just talking plants for hours - heaven! Love the photos - the bark looks like it could be acer griseum.

  5. The vine you asked about above looks like Holboellia angustifolia. A very cool and quite hardy evergreen vine with purple flowers that can take a lot of shade.
    Great Blog

  6. Good god man...your photos are both dreamy and sexy at the same time!!(and on a random side note I am completely jealous that you've got the fancy software (InDesign?) to make the cool title blocks). I'm not sure if you saw her comment on my post but Lauren (Lilyvilla Gardens) agrees on the id of the vine...Holboellia coriacea or angustifolia. So are you going to make up for lost opportunities of plant purchasing and go completely crazy once the back yard work is complete?

  7. Look at you taking gorgeous photos of woodland beauties...and agaves? I'm now twice as jealous that you four had such a cool trip. I can see the Mulchman needs a trip to Bovees - it's right up his alley. And I think I see some Ethroniums in his future (even if they're not native. Are any?) I think the word you're looking for is indumentum to describe the rusty coating on that beautiful vireya foliage. It slays me too: part of Tetrapanax papyrifer's appeal for me.

    Thanks for such a beautifully documented trip. Between you, Loree and Ryan, I almost feel like I went along!

  8. Jane, I don't know where the Bovees Erythroniums are from, but we do have some local species. They had several varieties at Bovees so it's worth an inquiry. I also have seed from last summer from the native variety, which may still be good, and the opportunity to collect more this summer. I'm kicking myself for not using the seeds I have.

  9. Your photos are nothing short of outstanding, Scott. Seriously beautiful. What a fun trip it must have been and I'm not familiar with the Ferula. I would love me one of those! [Fennel reseeds too much.] I'm looking forward to Leg 2 of the journey. :)

  10. Your tree looks like a Paperbark Maple,,,,,maybe. Love the little frog. Your Epimediums are sweet.

  11. Isn't that rusty stuff indentum? I remember when Pac Hort covered those Vireyas when they were discovered. And I'm forever wondering if there's any epimediums for zone 10. Beautiful plants and photos!

  12. Alison: Thanks!

    Ryan: Hahahahaha...inhuman indeed, I just wanted to be sure I had $$$ left in case I found something amazing at one of the other nurseries...truth be told, I wish I'd gotten some of the gray-leaved Geraniums...but I just kinda spaced out a bit :-)

    Sue:'d be in good company with us, then!

    Cyndy: That sounds like great fun!!! It's so nice going to nurseries with people who actually like partner just kind of grumbles the whole time.

    Darryl: Awesome! Thanks for the ID...I could not figure it out!

    Danger: Aww...thanks ;-) Indeed, it's InDesign...the software we use at the Publisher I work copy at home is super old...but I cannot afford to upgarde...sheesh! I use it for doing my garden plans and little titles occassionally :-)

    MulchMaid: Indumentum...tha'ts it!!! I should have looked it up, but was feeling kinda lazy. I hope to see in your future posts about whether you got any lovely!!!

    Grace: Thanks :-) I'll save you some Ferula seeds if it flowers this year...although I think it's probably a seeder just like Fennel...they are related...we'll see.

    Janet: Ahhh...probably...I know, Loree and I both wanted to take the frogs home with us...but at my home they would end up as cat food, sadly :-(

    Denise: Totally!!!I don't know about the Zone 10 Epimediums...I think they like a nice cool period...