A Visit to Joy Creek

Last Friday I made the trip out to Scappoose with my friend Carol to visit Joy Creek Nursery for the first time.  They have a vast and wonderful display garden which held delights around every corner.  We got lost in it for what must have been a couple of hours (it’s BIG).  Here’s some plant porn for you:

Hydrangea ‘Oregon Pride’

Just as we entered the garden, Mike (one of the owners) came over and named a couple plants for us.  First he showed us his “Plant of the Week” which he said he thinks might have to be “Plant of the Month”: Hydrangea ‘Oregon Pride’.  I’m all for Plant of the Month (June) especially with that name because June was Pride Month, how apropos!

I’m not big on Hydrangea macrophylla but I do love me some black stems! I actually have a little black-stemmed one that came with the house.  Like ‘Oregon Pride’, it also has these fabulous chartreuse buds.

Mike saw me eyeing this curious fir.  He said it’s Abies koreana ‘Starker’s Dwarf’ and that it’s 50 years old, if I recall correctly.

It’s only about 20′ tall
Abies koreana ‘Starker’s Dwarf’ – everything about it was cute

Acanthus flowers looked fantastic in front of a golden Cotinus.

Acanthus mollis

There are several big sprays of Eryngium giganteum around, also fabulous with the same Cotinus.

Eryngium giganteum

Bee party!

I loved the color combination of these soft peachy roses with the Eryngium.

Eryngium and roses

I didn’t catch the name of this next plant but it seems like a Ligularia.  Hydrangea aspera in the background doing its cotton candy phase.

Ligularia, I think.
Musa basjoo with Trachycarpus looking for all the world like summer will never end

Big tropical leaves halted us in our tracks for quite some time.

Gunnera tinctoria is a good 7 feet tall
Carol kindly posed for scale

She actually had a very small Gunnera, which died.  After seeing this, she was glad it kicked the bucket! It’s quite the challenge in just about any garden to make room for one of these.

Call me weird but I really liked this foliage combination of Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ and a bronze Carex.  The brown of the Carex really brought out the red splashes.  I couldn’t get a great photo so you might have to take my word for it.

Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette’ and a bronze Carex

I never cease to be thrilled with gray-green or silvery foliage against purple:

Eucomis probably ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ with a grape

I loved this next vignette – what a cooling scene visually on a hot summer day.  Under a large English walnut (take that, allelopathy!) grow these Astrantias, Brunnera, Hebe (‘Western Hills’?), Hostas flowering in the distance, and a ton of other plants.

Walnut trees (Juglans spp.) are commonly believed to exhibit allelopathy toward other plants.  Without getting overly technical it means they exude a chemical called hydrojuglone, which is converted to juglone by oxidation, and it’s juglone that supposedly can inhibit the growth of some plants.  This whole thing isn’t well understood, I imagine because there hasn’t been a lot of research put into it (why spend research dollars figuring out what will grow under walnuts when most commercial walnut orchards don’t want other plants under the trees?), but for home gardeners, Joy Creek’s garden here certainly proves that growing stuff under walnuts is very possible.

A few paces from there and we found the famed Rudbeckia field.  Earlier, Mike had told us some visitors asserted this could be seen from outer space.  It did not dissapoint!

Rudbeckia, Kniphofia

But I found the Kniphofia even more interesting.

I have K. uvaria, but I haven’t been impressed with it because it blooms for a very short time and tends to look pretty ragged the rest of the year.  I’d like to try growing one that blooms for longer and has better foliage. I also don’t love the creamsicle look – I prefer the ones with at least somewhat more uniform color.

Much as I love conifers, I am very picky about which ones end up in my garden. I am NOT picky about good foliage combinations, and I just loved this.  I’m guessing Tsuga heterophylla and some kind of Chamaecyparis.

I was intrigued by these really gigantic rose hips. With hairs even.  I didn’t find a tag on or anywhere near the plant, unfortunately.

see? crazy big! they look like developing pears but for the hair.

You know when you visit a garden where the plants are mature and you see something real big and go “oh shit” because you realize you haven’t accounted for mature size when you planted the wee little specimen you have? This Bupleurum fruticosum totally did that for me.

Lavender, Hydrangea, Bupleurum fruticosum

…. And then you laugh and just go “oh well, whatever”…

I do love me some blue Hosta.  Mostly, though, I was excited about native Vancouveria used as a “filler” plant among the Hosta and rather exotic-looking ferns here.

surely Crytomium, but idk which

I love that fern!

At this point we were nowhere near done seeing the gardens – in fact we’d only been through about half of it, but my phone was really low on charge, so I stopped taking pictures, except of the plants I came for.

Drimys lanceolata (four of them, I love them that much!)

And I couldn’t resist this Salvia discolor even though it’s questionably hardy.

Salvia discolor

I planted it out into the garden but now that I’m researching it I’m pretty sure I’ll lose it over the winter unless we get spectacularly lucky with a warm winter again.  I might even dig it now so I don’t have to do it in November when the plant is more established.  I wanted white foliage in the spot I put it in, but fortunately I have two Helichrysum thianschanicum I got from Xera, so maybe I’ll put one of those there instead.

It was really fun and inspiring to visit Joy Creek Nursery and I’m really glad I went (finally).  I recommend visiting if you haven’t.  Plus GREAT PEOPLE work there!!

2 comments on “A Visit to Joy Creek

  1. I’ve been planning a trip to Joy Creek ever since the swap, but so far I haen’t gotten around to it. It’s farther to go for me. Hopefully July will be the month I get there. Thanks for showing what’s going on there in the garden right now. Those Rudbeckia are gorgeous.

  2. Oh!!! Salvia discolor. Haven’t included that in the garden for a couple of years. I love the silvery/white foliage and those black flowers! I also haven’t ever had it live through a winter, no matter how mild. Glad you finally made it out to JC!

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