Cascade Nursery Trail

Hosta ‘Ripple Effect’, Sebright Gardens

Specialty nurseries are so fun to visit, so I was thrilled to learn that seven specialty nurseries between Canby, Beavercreek and Silverton got together to entice gardeners to stop by for a visit. They call themselves the Cascade Nursery Trail.

Four garden writer friends and I challenged ourselves to visit all seven in one day. Actually, I don’t recommend it because (1) you aren’t able to properly savor the experience at each nursery, i.e., investigating and buying plants and meeting the owners and (2) we found it impossible to do. Regrettably, we had to call and cancel our visit to one of the nurseries; even then we barely made it to six of them. Leaving Wilsonville at 8:30am to head to our first nursery, we didn’t return until 6:30pm (but we did return with a car load of plants!). My recommendation? Make it a two-day journey. You’ll be able to linger when inspired to do so.

Several of the nurseries have extensive display gardens that make it worth a visit: Sebright Gardens, Secret Garden Growers, and Wild Ginger. Out in the Garden Nursery is expanding their display garden around three groves of heritage Oregon White Oaks and intend to offer it as an event site when the gardens are more fully established.

‘Irish Orange’ Heath

Highland Heather (Canby) specializes in heaths, heathers and good companion plants (e.g., hardy hebes and Pieris). They offer more than 100 varieties. Owner Janice Leinwebber says they are not difficult to grow; they just need (1) full sun, (2) good drainage, and (3) water for their first year. They grow well in poor soil and over fertilization is a danger. We were curious about the difference between heaths and heathers. Heather is an overarching term that encompasses both, however the only true heather is Calluna vulgaris, which only blooms at the end of summer and has waxy, small shell–like overlapping leaves.

Heather ‘Nana Compacta’

Heaths, on the other hand, include Erica and Daboecia and can bloom at different times of the year and the leaves tend to roll under at the edges. I was smitten with Erica x stuartii ‘Irish Orange’ with it’s orange and yellow new growth and Calluna vulgaris ‘Nana Compacta’ with its bun-like habit.

Designer Lisa Meddin provides
scale for the huge Tibetan Lily

You may have encountered Secret Garden Growers (Canby) at local plant sales, but the nursery is open regular hours and offers online shopping. Just around the corner from Highland Heather, you’ll find rare and unusual perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, herbs and gourmet edibles that they find on their travels around the country. Owners Pat Thompson and Bill Newton are certified arborists; Pat also designs gardens, samples of which you’ll see around the nursery.

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
always lights up the garden

Hundreds of hostas at Sebright Gardens

On to Sebright Gardens (between Brooks and Salem), one of my all-time favorite nurseries because I adore, adore, adore hostas, ferns and epimediums, all of which are specialties of the nursery! They also offer a selection of other woodland shade plants and select conifers. Whet your appetite by walking the display gardens then select from almost 500 hosta varieties, 48 variety of epimediums and about 100 varieties of ferns. Hostas ‘June Fever’, ‘August Frost’, ‘Temptation’ and several more varieties insisted that they come home with me.

So may beautiful plants
it’s hard to choose

Before lunch in Silverton, we snuck in a quick visit to Garden Thyme, located just south of The Oregon Garden. They’ve been open 11 years, evolving from a focus on herbs to now offering a wide range of plants, from annuals and perennials to a small selection of trees and shrubs. Santolina virens ‘Lemon Fizz’ is one of their best sellers this year.

Had everything gone according to schedule, we would have visited Nowlens Bridge Perennials. The nursery specializes in woodland plants, shade perennials, shrubs and garden trees. They have an open house planned for June 16 and 17, so that might be a good time for a visit. They also are open by appointment.

Shade selections at
Out in the Garden Nursery

We did make it to Out in the Garden Nursery (Mollalla). Owner Carol Westergreen has degrees in horticulture and landscape architecture, and she’s a very able grower of shade and sun perennials. She looks for plants with interesting textures and colors that offer more than one season of interest in the garden. She is willing and able to guide you on lovely plant combinations. I was sorely tempted by a white allium and Heuchera ‘Miracle’ but instead took home a few beautiful ferns (I may have to make a return trip for that scrumptious ‘Miracle’).

A growing display garden

A Pacific Coast iris selection

At the end of the day, owners Emma Elliott and Truls Jensen and their three canine companions welcomed us to Wild Ginger Farm (Beavercreek). Lifelong gardeners, they developed an interest in exploring different plant habitats and discovered alpines. In 2003, they started selling plant online. Today, you can also visit their nursery and see them at specialty plant sales. They also developed an interest in natives and Emma now breeds Pacific Coast iris. You’re bound to see an array of unusual plants with very interesting flower displays and/or growth forms. A dwarf Clematis integrafolia came home with me among a few others that I just have to try in a miniature garden-like setting.

A dense mat of Raoulia australis

 It was a very satisfying day. Now there’s lots of planting to do!

To read accounts from my nursery tour companions, click here and here and here.

Do you have a favorite nursery that is a must see?