Road Trip! Nursery Touring in Eugene

Mary-Kate, a fellow gardener, and I set out to visit a few nurseries around the Eugene area about this time last year. We had such a delightful time and diverse experience, I thought it worthy of sharing with you in the hopes that you will want to hop in your car, fill it with enough friends to make it fun but leaving enough room in the backseat and trunk to allow you to purchase garden and home-related items with abandon. Mary-Kate and I sure did (plus we had Barney, my adorable golden retriever, along to keep things interesting).

First stop – Doak Creek Native Plant Nursery, 83331 Jackson Marlow Rd., Eugene, 541.484.9206, all year by appointment so please call ahead. Owner Cynthia Lafferty grows a wide selection of containerized native trees, shrubs, ferns, ground covers, and wildflowers. It is hidden back up a valley but it’s worth the lovely drive. A native azalea, Erysimum capitatum (Western Wallflower) and some native ferns kept Mary-Kate’s purchases company in the back of the car. While Cynthia was telling us about the nursery and some of her favorite plants, Barney decided to go for a swim in the nursery’s retention pond. Soon after and covered in green duck weed, he raced across the field toward us with a big happy dog grin on his face. Before I knew what was happening, Barney decided the appropriate thing to do was to roll in Cynthia’s tidy pile of potting soil (everything about the nursery is very tidy). My normally well-behaved mellow fellow then found another water feature that needed exploring and emerged with mud up to his doggy elbows. Needless to say, I was mortified and Cynthia was very gracious, letting me use the hose to get him back to his golden self. Harrumph! He stayed in the car at our other destinations.

Second stop – Briggs Hill Orchids Inc., 27936 Briggs Hill Rd., Eugene, 541.431.3886. As I recall, owner Helene Gendel’s love of orchids started when she was given one as a gift from her husband. Now they have a greenhouse filled with exotic and unusual orchids for the discriminating orchid collector and consumer (I’m neither, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the visit). Expert advice, orchid fertilizer, potting media and pots are also available. Mary-Kate and I were mesmerized by the variety of orchids, from tiny ones barely larger than a pin-head to large, colorful, fragrant flowers. Their passion for the plant family was irresistible and several orchids we found irresistible were tucked into the car. Fascinating!

Third and final stop of the day – Down to Earth Home, Garden & Gift, 532 Olive St., Eugene, 541.342.6820. A second, smaller store, which I have yet to visit, is located at 2498 Willamette St. (541.349.0556). Down To Earth specializes in practical goods for natural living, carrying durable home and garden products made from sustainable or recycled materials, such as recycled glassware, stainless steel, wood, bamboo, ceramics, wool, beeswax; books, biodegradable bags, compost pails, cloth bags; and organic plants, seeds, potting soil, fertilizer, pest control, body care, and cleaning supplies. The Olive Street store is beautifully merchandised with many products they manufacture themselves. I found the store to be irresistible—there’s that word again! The selection of seed potatoes alone is worth the trip from Portland to Eugene. Last time I was there, they were showcasing charming miniature gardens. The plants they offer, while limited, are of high quality and not your run-of-the-mill selection. I LOVE THIS STORE!!!

A lovely place to stay about 23 miles south is the Village Green Resort & Gardens, a sister hotel to The Oregon Garden Resort at The Oregon Garden in Silverton.

Mary-Kate and I had another fun nursery adventure in the area more recently, but I’ll tell you about that at another time. Tell us about your best/favorite nursery and garden tours so we can plan our own visit.