The Joy of Plants at Joy Creek Nursery

Portland gardeners are lucky ducks. They seem to have an unusual concentration of high quality nurseries in their area, nurseries whose display gardens would make them worthwhile destinations even if they had nothing for sale.

Blue Hydrangea and grasses at the Joy Creek display garden.
Blue Hydrangea and grasses at the Joy Creek display garden.

We don’t have that in Chicago, where land is at too much of a premium to be used that way by a retail nursery. By the way, I took these pictures as Judy missed the first day of the Fling. So they may not be up to the usual quality.

Rudbeckia hirta
Rudbeckia hirta

We visited two such nurseries during the Fling: Joy Creek and Cistus. One of the Portlanders told me that these two nurseries define two local styles of gardening. “You’re either a Joy Creek gardener or a Cistus gardener,” she told me.

Matilija Poppy. Wish we could grow these in Chicago.
Matilija Poppy. Wish we could grow these in Chicago.

If I lived in Portland, I would definitely be a Joy Creek gardener.

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Joy Creek has over four acres of display and stock gardens.

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And by the way, they also do mail order. Here’s the Joy Creek website.

Bee Balm, I think it's 'Jacob Cline'.
Bee Balm, I think it’s ‘Jacob Cline’.

Joy Creek specializes in Clematis, and their garden has an amazing selection.

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2014-07-11 16.30.18joy creek clematis

This one reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me!
This one reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors. Feed me!

2014-07-11 16.24.58 joy creek clematis

Now if only I could get them to open a branch in the Chicago area.

60 Comments on “The Joy of Plants at Joy Creek Nursery

  1. What pretty flowers. The rudbeckia are a joy to behold. But then I saw the last 2 clematis and you know how I love them. The last two – including the little shop of horrors – are intriguing. And what is “The Fling”? I’ve been on another planet recently, so maybe you have explained already.

  2. I’m more of a Joy Creek gardener. 🙂 Although we have our share of great local nurseries in the Seattle, I try to swing by Joy Creek whenever I head South. I really appreciate specialty nurseries that have a web presence. I can check out the offerings and make my plans–even have them put the plants aside for pick-up. Love that!

  3. I love both Joy Creek and Cistus and purchase too much at both nurseries. I can’t imagine my yard without plant energy from both nurseries.

  4. Lovely photo tour…I loved walking around Joy Creek! The little shop of horrors flowers is fun!

  5. Wow, That’s quite an injection of summer for a grey October morning! I might have to revisit this post in January.
    If you want a similar white poppy look, try prickly poppy. I’ve grown it as an annual and loved it.

  6. Oh, such great pictures and narrative. Looks like a fabulous nursery and it’s so helpful to see the plants arranged in a garden setting.

  7. Although it’s a 3 hour trip from the Tacoma area, I go to both nurseries at least once a year (sometimes twice), love them both! Thanks for sharing your great photos. Glad you enjoyed your visit there.

    • I would definitely drive three hours to visit Joy Creek, especially if I could bring plants back with me. I think from Chicago it’s more like 20 hours.

  8. Don’t knock your skills as a photographer Jason, although I do think it is lovely that Judy makes her contribution to your blog and so it’s a shared enterprise. Nurseries with gardens are wonderful, not something you see often here.

  9. Your pictures are beautiful, as are the plants. So many gorgeous clematis there and as for that poppy….utterly divine!xxx

  10. What a wonderful nursery Jason, you have taken some lovely photos too, if you have any sway please ask them to open a branch in the UK.

  11. Jason, you and Judy make a good team. Judy is an amazing photographer! And these photos are fabulous, too! I can see that the Joy Creek visit was one I would have enjoyed, as well. When you and Judy are in the Madison area next time, we’ll have to visit some of our garden centers here together. The Flower Factory, Jung Garden Center, and Kopke’s Fruit of the Bloom are my personal favorites. We have a lot of options here, but sadly some are closing because of competition from the “big box” stores. I hope my favorites won’t close! Great post!

    • We went to Jung’s often when we lived in Madison. Never got to Flower Factory, but I have seen their catalog – very impressive!

  12. That’s so funny, I hadn’t thought of them as mutually exclusive…but I do visit Joy Creek regularly…and Cistus, rarely (usually when I’m with someone and they want to go), so I guess there’s a grain of truth to that. I’m glad you enjoyed the visit…our fabulous local nurseries really do spoil us here in Portland 🙂

  13. Hello there !
    I have thought the very same thing about how lucky you people are on the west coast with so many wonderful nurseries around ! Not only the milder weather but these nurseries are amazing .. I would have to pick Joy Creek too if only because my name is Joy too ? LOL
    Joy in a colder climate !

    • Portland really seems to be a gardening town, and with that climate it’s understandable. They get so many more days out in the garden, it’s not fair!

  14. Hi Jason, I think I would definitely be a Joy Creek gardener if I lived there too, given their speciality for clematis. I would work my way through their entire stock in a desperate effort to find one that wouldn’t die on me!

  15. I agree, Jason–I wish we had something like these nurseries around here, too! I remember the large stand of Rudbeckias and admiring all the bees buzzing about it. And who can forget those huge BLUE hydrangeas?! Have you ever been to Hornbaker Gardens in Princeton? They have some beautiful display gardens that make the long trip worthwhile.

  16. Seems I have company in the split personality department. I thought maybe it had to do with my dangerous location almost exactly between JC & Cistus. The plant in Little Shop of Horrors had a fun name which escapes me, but the one you show is Oshi Kiri. Big demand, small supply, according to Maurice.

  17. Lovely Clematis. Is that poppy a Romneya coulteri? They are tricky plants, they will either take over the entire garden or sulk and die out. Mine hasn’ t quite decided which course of action to take. It’ s still weighing up the options.

  18. What fun to revisit Joy Creek! Your shots are wonderful, as were your subjects, especially all the clematis. I enjoyed Cistus but I lean towards Joy Creek too.

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