Day trip: Portland gardening at its best

Embrace urban homesteading and find star-quality garden art on a Portland day trip to Pistils Nursery 

Pistils Nursery

Jon Jensen

1. Get an impromptu tour

Pistils’ unofficial greeter, Blu the border collie, will lead you through a remarkable collection of herbs and woody plants. New gardeners love the scents and textures, while seasoned ones are wowed by unusual gems like Cunninghamia, Metapanax, Taiwania, and hardy Arbequina olives. But don’t get lost in the names: Blu’s owner, Mégan Twilegar, is patient about explaining how they grow.

Travis Pond Metal

Jon Jensen

2. Find star-quality garden art

At Pistils, your take-away treasure might be growing in a pot on a nursery bench―or hanging on the wall. Portland metal artist Travis Pond made both of the rusted steel stars, plus the house numbers displayed on the brown door. They’re sold individually, so you can buy just the numerals that make up your address.

Holding chicken

Jon Jensen

3. Embrace urban homesteading

The shed behind Pistils is full of simple garden tools, chicken- and goatkeeping supplies, and beekeeping paraphernalia―just what you might need in your own backyard.

4. Get your ideal plant

Plant geeks thrill to the purple-striped leaves of Ledebouria cooperi though it’s probably too tender to survive a Northwest winter. At the other extreme, White Mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga paniculata) loves ice, but its rosettes are tempting. Fortunately, Orostachys  will be right at home in your yard.

Ideal Plants

Jon Jensen

Editor's Picks

Where to go for:

Bamboo Garden More than 300 varieties are for sale at the 16-acre site. Tue–Sat, by appointment Sun; 18900 N.W. Collins Rd., North Plains, OR; or 503/ 647-2700. 

Swansons Nursery Check out the terrific selection of ferns, woody plants, perennials, and grasses. 9701 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle; or 206/782-2543.

Baltzers Specialized Nursery Choose from more than 100 varieties of maples; also unusual conifers. Fri–Mon; 36011 State 58, Pleasant Hill, OR; 541/747-5604.

Oasis Water Gardens Find everything you need for a pond or water feature. 404 S. Brandon St., Seattle; or 206/767-9776.

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