Iseli Nursery, Boring, Oregon
The next time a client of mine wants a perennial garden, I'm going to scream! I've never been able to understand why so many so-called "gardeners" dismiss needled conifers as plants they simply don't like. What on earth could they be thinking? This picture above is boring???
During the APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) conference earlier this month in Portland, several of us sneaked away one day for tours of two incomparable Oregon nurseries, including Iseli. It's only open to professionals for special tours, but if you ever get the chance, don't miss it. The Iseli offices are surrounded by acres of gardens featuring some of the most incredible plants and combinations I've ever seen. I always tell my clients they simply cannot have "one of everything" because it's bad design ... but in an instant, I succumbed at Iseli.
As you drive into the nursery, you pass a Mobius strip (seen above in the distance) woven from golden Deodar cedar. It's probably 15 to 20 feet high and at least a few hundred feet long. It's a long, chartreuse colored undulating wave that is one of the most amazing "plant" sights you'll ever encounter.
This box hedge just outside the office entrance is clipped just once a year or so -- painstakingly, so I'm told --and the annuals often change from year to year. Even in English gardens, you don't often see this kind of care and maintenance in traditional knot gardens.
OK, besides the bears, there were squirrels, row upon row of elephants, and other creatures as well. Look for them in your local nursery.
Click on the following images to enlarge: some of my favorites among the offerings.
'Snow Sprite' Deodar Cedar.
It has the classic deodar shape, but at the very tip of each branch, there's a white tip. It has an irregular shape when young, but eventually develops a central leader, as seen here.
It stays small and compact compared to the species, and it literally glowed when we saw it at twilight.
This magnificent specimen weeps and cascades and trails over the ground just like a waterfall. Imagine it on a slope, or planted atop a low wall.
Definitely a focal point candidate, and a conversation piece as well.
And how about that pedestrian Chinese juniper that we all love to hate? Not when it's this one -- Daub's Frost --low, spreading, with golden yellow new growth above blue-green interior foliage.
You can go online and see the Iseli catalogue ... open your mind, and if you see something you simply must have, ask your local nursery if they can order it for you.
(photos click to enlarge; images ©Jane Berger)