Day trip: Portland gardening at its best Embrace urban homesteading and find star-quality garden art on a Portland day trip to Pistils Nursery 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. Pinterest 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. 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. Editor's Picks FERNSSwansons Nursery Check out the terrific selection of ferns, woody plants, perennials, and grasses. 9701 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle; swansonsnursery.com or 206/782-2543. JAPANESE MAPLESBaltzers Specialized Nursery Choose from more than 100 varieties of maples; also unusual conifers. Fri–Mon; 36011 State 58, Pleasant Hill, OR; 541/747-5604. WATER PLANTSOasis Water Gardens Find everything you need for a pond or water feature. 404 S. Brandon St., Seattle; oasiswatergardens.com or 206/767-9776.