Plant Shopping, Tried-and-True Nurseries, New Clematises

When the first stretch of nice Spring weather arrives I get an itch. It’s a condition that could also be thought of as a ‘craving’ except for that it only involves food that is nourishing to the soul (and maybe the rabbits) and is much easier on the waist line. Yes, it’s an itch to do some plant shopping!

Being outside cleaning the beds and noticing little signs of life popping up all around me brings forth a bunch of ideas from last season and winter planning.

Plus, I’m starting with a whole new plant budget! At our house the garden is on an “unspoken” financial plan with expenditures closing out in November of each year and a whole new budget turning up around Marchish… This is the unwritten decree of gardening right? (Naturally, close out and start-up months vary by climate!)

This combination of pleasant outdoor afternoons, new ideas and the feeling of having a few bucks to spend gets me on my way. I drop by local nurseries to see what’s in stock but also turn to some of my favorite mail-order sources.

And even though purchasing from mail orders might not be the ‘in’ thing to do because of the heavy focus on buying local (which I support) I think there’s still plenty of cause to support your tried and true mail-order nurseries.

Many of these nurseries have been around for decades growing and supplying fabulous plants to gardeners long before the Home Depot’s showed up and maybe even before some of the trendy, local retail-only nurseries in your area opened. In a way these long-time mail-order nurseries are the ‘mom and pop’ stores of plants.

A few words on a favorite – Joy Creek Nursery

I first learned about Joy Creek Nursery through my a neighborhood garden club about 12 years ago. On a cold February evening I heard people talking excitedly about the new Joy Creek catalog arriving ( a stapled, black & white print on copy paper booklet) and how they couldn’t wait to look through it. Once I saw the catalog I realized these people were the real deal, they knew plants by name and variety. They didn’t need big glossy photos and paragraph-long descriptions to peak their interest.

If these people were the real deal I knew Joy Creek must be too. So soon I found myself driving out to Scappoose, toddler in tow to visit this notable nursery.

The display gardens were gorgeous and wound generously through the property. I still remember the most amazing patch of delphiniums in bloom… (Delphs are a fav and somehow hard for me to grow). Needless to say I made many more trips to Joy Creek.

Fast forward 10 years and I’m perusing the on-line catalog once again. For those of you new to Joy Creek, don’t be put off when you go to the website and don’t see a plethora of vibrantly colored pictures jumping off the screen at you.

Instead, head straight to the shopping tab and begin searching to your heart’s content. Seriously, with over 298 varieties of Clematis, 34 varieties of hardy geranium and 97 varieties of Hydrangea (yes, I counted all of these, don’t try to verify it takes a long time!) just scratching the surface of what Joy Creek offers, you really can search to your content. Oh ya, and pictures are included in the listing of many individual varieties, although not all.

I’ve used Joy Creek’s mail order service since moving away from the Portland, OR area and have never been disappointed. I even ordered when living in Pennsylvania and the plants made the trip happily.

Look at this beautiful rose, one of only two I grow in my garden. This is just the second season of growth and it started as a small 8-10 inch plant.

I bought this rose (rosa glauca) from Joy Creek after searching my local nurseries and not having any luck finding it. I even asked about getting it ordered in at one place but they were unable to find it.

So another great benefit of mail orders is being able to get the specific variety you have your heart set on and not being limited to what is in stock at the local nursery.

Last year I made an in-person visit to Joy Creek and picked up several things including these two beauties…

Clematis 'Dr. Ruppel'

Clematis 'Romantica'

I’m happy to report both made it through the winter just fine and are starting to emerge. I’m letting clematis ‘Dr. Ruppel’ sprawl along the ground amongst a small water feature and some ‘Forest Pansy’ Redbud (cercis canadensis). I’m training clematis ‘Romantica’ up a trellis my husband built that is located next to a 12 foot Cedrus deodara and if it happens to climb through it as well… it could be cool.

So if you’re still with me in this long-winded post, don’t delay! Enter my raffle celebrating one year of igardendaily for a chance to win a $30 gift certificate to Joy Creek. Just click here to see the details of how to enter and best of luck to you.

Go grab some garden joy, with Joy Creek!