Bigfoot sighting at Bark and Garden Center, Olympia

Today my mother, her friend, and I tried to beat the rain to a couple nurseries. We failed, but at least we made it to one garden center before the rain hit. My mother's friend is looking for plants to put in on a slope in front of her house and sought my advice. Given her wishes for the space, I suggested ornamental grasses, dwarf conifers, and a few other plants, so we went together to scope out some possibilities at the Bark and Garden Center in Olympia. Naturally the rain hit shortly after we arrived at the nursery, so we didn't get to look at the grasses, conifers, and other plants in the open for very long. Luckily Bark and Garden Center has a large amount of space under cover.

 The Bark and Garden Center has a large selection of both the more standard fair and some choice plants. To a plant addict living in a rural area with only very small garden centers nearby, the shear number of plants and the variety in one location can drive one to salivation. If anything were to tempt me to live closer to a larger town or city, it would be easier access to large nurseries and garden centers.

A beautiful combination of colors greets you as you enter the garden center.

I actually took the picture below for the mostly coniferous backdrop, rather than the containers.

Sasquatch was either very interested in this maple, or he was hiding from the paparazzi. I saw another further inside the garden center, but it was white so that must have been his cousin, Yetti.

 I know more than one person who has trouble watering their plants. I wonder if they might remember if they saw these thirsty little mouths in their containers?

There is a large section for indoor plants, though it seems that last time I visited there was a better selection. That was a different time of year, though, and while I spent a few minutes perusing the benches, I really wasn't looking to buy anymore indoor plants this time.

Still, these Phlebodium aureum 'Blue Star' were tempting. Maybe someday.

I could use a waterfall on the patio, don't you think? Heck, I'd have it in my bedroom, complete with ferns!

I've been thinking of using Acaena anserinifolia 'Blue Haze' to fill the spaces between the heathers along the ramp at the front of the house and as a ground cover off the back patio, but I passed it by today. Still needs some thought. We don't rush into things in my family.

I just planted two 10" tall monkey puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana), so I wasn't tempted to buy any, but I do love to look at them. Speaking of those little guys, I don't think I've shown them to you. I might need to do a review of my recent plantings one of these days.

This Japanese maple caught my eye. Should have taken a picture of the label, too. I was sure I would remember it! This is also about the time the rain started pouring down, so I headed back under cover.

I love the foliage of Thalictrum ichangense 'Evening Star'. I don't know why I didn't add one to my cart. Compared to some of the other things I saw, it wasn't that overpriced at $9.99 for a 4" pot.

I can even live with the pink flowers. They do contrast nicely with the foliage, at least.

The rain diminished to a slight sprinkling, freeing me to take my camera back outside. Unfortunately by this time my ride was getting hungry, so I had to make a quick run through conifer land.

Larix laricina 'Blue Sparkler' grabbed my attention. I'm thinking this would look fantastic in the bed off of the patio. I'll have to pick one up next time.

I absolutely love Hiba cedar (Thujopsis dolobrata). It is one of my favorite conifers. It reminds me of a Thuja, to which it is related, but magnified. Though a much smaller tree than our native western red cedar (Thuja plicata), Hiba cedar has broader, flatter branchlets with larger leaves. The effect is extremely lush. I think this was the cultivar 'Aurea', which at $30 was a bit out of my price range. I love the plain green species and I can find that for half the price.

The stark white new growth of Cedrus deodara 'Deep Cove' was stunning. I had to take the name home to do a bit more research as the tag gave a name and little else. According to Plantlust, this cultivar grows 7-12' tall at a rate of about 6" per year. I definitely have the space for it. I'm just not sure WHERE in that space to put it!

OK, brace yourselves for a bit of a rant. This gorgeous variegated Fatsia japonica is part of Monrovia's Dan Hinkley Collection. It is being sold as Fatsia japonica 'Variegata' with the trademark name Camouflage. I find it odd that a plantsman of Dan Hinkley's reputation would endorse a plant sold under a false name, which this most definitely is. I'm more inclined to assume that Monrovia made the error, rather than Mr. Hinkley, but shouldn't he have done something about it?. Fatsia japonica 'Variegata' has an irregular cream edge. That is the defining characteristic of the cultivar and even though Camouflage is variegated, it is not the same variegation as the cultivar 'Variegata' and thus it is not the same cultivar. This fatsia has yellow to light green leaves with irregular dark green margins. It is most likely one of two cultivars, 'Annelise' or 'Murakuma Nishiki'. They bear a strong resemblance to the fatsias Plant Delights Nursery ordered (I'm fairly certain they came from Monrovia) and sold as 'Murakuma Nishiki' and I know that Tony and the staff at Plant Delights take their plant names seriously. The picture on their website looks less like the plants I found at Bark and Garden Center, but I saw them in person shortly after they arrived and they looked very similar to the plants I found at Bark and Garden Center. I'm not trying to attack or insult anyone, just trying to clear up this case of mistaken identity.

At $32.99 for a very large 2 gallon plant (much better than $38.00 for a 3.5" pot that another supplier was offering), I was sorely tempted to bring this one home. I know exactly where I'd put it, but that bed hasn't been made yet. I'm still trying to buy things that I can put immediately into the ground. Maybe next time I'll break down.

So what actually came home with me? Muckdenia rossii 'Crimson Fans' jumped into the cart of it's own volition. The three plants in the front, L to R, are Polystichum setiferum, Penstemon pinifolius, and Saxifraga x andrewsii. The last two caught my mother's eye and I always love seeing my parents engaged in shaping their own garden, so they had to come home. I am a little concerned about the penstemon surviving our wet winters. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Looks like the next dry day will be Wednesday. Look out nurseries, here I come!


  1. Nothing like a nursery dressed up in it's Springs' finest to brighten up a dreary day. I may visit one myself this morning just to look around...You are fortunate to have a large enough lot for 2 monkey puzzle trees: They'll be huge and magnificent in your garden. I have a small (gifted) 6" start which must remains in a pot: my small city garden cannot accommodate it. I don't thin it's a good candidate for bonsai.

    1. I hope they both live. I lost two monkey puzzles before to hard winters, but I don't think they were in the best spots and I may have planted them later in the year. These seedlings made it through last winter in containers, so they're hardy at least.

  2. When I first moved here I didn't know that monkey puzzle trees were hardy here, or I would have bought one. Now the garden is too full for one. I love that Thalictrum, it's one of my favorites. I think you're very smart not to give in to impulse buying before beds are ready for them. If they fail to overwinter, you're wasting money. Isn't Bark and Garden a great nursery?

    1. I do get a good feeling being able to put things right into the ground, rather than having them accumulate and hang over my head. Bark and Garden has such a huge collectioncompared to the nurseries closer to me.

  3. I stepped on the emerging stems of my Thalictrum the other day, I was not happy about that!

    Thanks for the rant about the Fatsia, I love hearing stories like this. I am so confused by the many different names for what looks to be the same plant.

    1. Oh no! But I'm sure it will send up more shoots.

      If nothing else, I'm good for a rant. I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to plant names. I could blame my curatorial training, but I think the tendency was already there!

  4. Thanks for the Bark and Garden tour; it's a great place! So as not to irk anyone, I'll simply call mine that funny looking fatsia in the pot over there. Love the rant!


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