The Plant Geek Unleashed, Part III

After some intervening posts and a few days of not doing much after getting my last two wisdom teeth out, I'm finally getting to the last leg of our Mother's Day nursery trip. Our final stop that day was one I hadn't been to before, and hadn't even heard of until about 2 months ago, when I saw Lael's Moon Garden listed as one of the vendors coming to the Rhododendron Species Garden spring plant sale. Sadly I wasn't able to attend the sale, but Lael's Moon Garden is only about 15 minutes from Down's Rhododendrons, which we were already planning to visit.

The first thing I have to say is that I was not disappointed by Lael's Moon Garden. This nursery has a spectacular selection of well grown plants. I found most of the prices to be very reasonable, and the ones that were too much for me were the big trees, which are too expensive for me no matter what nursery I'm visiting. My one complaint was that the parking area is a bit small. I'm glad it wasn't terribly busy when we arrived, otherwise I'm not sure what we would have done.

You can tell that this Buddha is a plant geek. Look how happy he is!

Lust-worthy big trees. Sadly these are far beyond my budget.

Beautiful combinations tempt shoppers at every turn.
 I love when nurseries have display gardens. It adds so much to the experience of visiting the nursery, not only to see some of the plants for sale used in the landscape, but to get the imagination working to inspire your own combinations. The gardens at Lael's were surprisingly extensive. You can tell that this is a working garden, too. I saw evidence of new and recent plantings, edits, and of course a plant geek's selection of beautiful and unusual specimens.

One of the first sights upon entering the garden (at least if you take a right soon after walking from the parking lot) is a simple but lovely study of greens, from the purplish green of ajuga to the vibrant tone of a well-grown  (Japanese?) maple, highlighted with the silver-speckled foliage of pulmonaria a the glorious blue of Himalayan blue poppies.

Both the dark ajuga and bright maple make lovely backgrounds for the brilliant blue.

Enkianthus campanulatus and it's cultivars have spectacular flowers, and grow larger than some other species. After seeing the many beautiful specimens at Lael's Moon Garden, I will definitely be adding some of these to my garden.

Conifers, rhododendrons, and rocks resonate with me, even if the rhody is pink.

How could this odd creature not catch my attention? Cornus alba 'Hessei' has a fascinating texture.

Melittis melissophyllum
Beautiful plants abound in this garden.

This had me trying to imagine where I could implement a weeping conifer arch.

Acer circinatum 'Sunny Sister' has gorgeous orange-toned foliage. At only 6 feet tall in 10 years, it's a little slow-growing for my current garden. Things need to grow a little faster here to escape the deer in a reasonable amount of time, or else be tough enough to not tempt the nasty ungulates' appetites. Maybe in a future garden without  deer, or where it has more time to grow above them.

There were many (MANY) other maples to choose from. Something tells me it's a bit of a specialty here.

A subtle, yet gorgeous maple. I think this may have been one of the Ghost series.

No good nursery is complete without furry ushers to guide customers and ensure they enjoy their visit. This one was perhaps a bit irked at me for startling the bird it had been patiently stalking. Please accept my apology in the form of a chin scratch.

Leucothoe 'Curly Red'. Another plant with weird and wonderful texture, but unlike the 'Hessei' dogwood encountered in the garden, this leucothoe has a good chance of being deer-resistant, as the leaves are almost as stiff as plastic. Chew on that, you hoofed miscreants!

We wandered back into a garden area onto this beautiful tableau of shade plants.

The two epimedium in this picture (just left of center and at the base of the tree trunk in the upper right) must have been nearly 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall! They were immense!

Gorgeous blue-tinted rhododendron foliage.

Even more gorgeous deciduous azalea. Look at that color!

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst' caught my dad's eye.

Vivid red new cones were just developing on the glowing yellow new shoots. Hey, flames on candles!
 It's both good and bad that Lael's Moon Garden was our last stop of the day. If we had come here first I'm not sure there would have been any room for more plants at the other two nurseries. On the other hand if we had come here first I wouldn't have had to leave so many cool plants behind. I didn't come away empty handed though:
Back: Poncirus trifoliata 'Monstrosa' (also sold as 'Flying Dragon'), Middle, L/R: Cedrus deodara 'Feelin' Blue' and Azara microphylla. Front: Podocarpus alpina 'Blue Gem'

I'm especially happy with my new azara, my first time growing this wonderful small tree. It has wonderful squiggly branches. Now where to plant it so that my parents might actually walk by it in February when it is large enough to produce its deliciously scented blooms?
I didn't take as many photos of the sales areas as perhaps I should have, but I was simply too busy shopping. It's hard to take photos when your hands are full of pots comparing which specimen should come home with you. Speaking of plants that I wanted to take home with me, Lael's had just received a truckload of rooted cuttings and starter plants, among them Enkianthus campanulatus 'Showy Lantern', Rhododendron 'Wine and Roses', and the enchanting Rhododendron 'Everred'. Unfortunately these weren't quite ready for sale yet. Oh well, guess I'll be going back soon!


  1. Another great nursery! I've heard of but never been to Lael's. You got some great plants here as well. Your car must have been quite full of plants by the end of this field trip. With your preview, I can't wait to check this place out myself.

    1. Lael's is definitely worth checking out! Let me know when you go, maybe we can meet there!

  2. I imagine you were laughing at the prospect of the deer munching on that poncirus? I moved one of of my Azara microphylla yesterday (to make room for a plant that commenter above brought me last weekend) and couldn't believe how much it had grown since being planted about a month ago. I am in love with that plant, just wonderful.

    1. There may have been a teensy bit of malicious chuckling when I spotted the poncirus. Now the problem is where to place it. I have ideas for the straight-stemmed species, less so for the contorted cultivar. Still trying to decide where to put my azara, too. I love it as well!

  3. Don't you just LOVE display gardens? When I first started gardening and didn't know a thing about it, I found them very useful, showing me which plants work well together, shade/sun exposure and so on. 3 weeks ago the Rhododendron botanical garden had a whole bed of Himalayan blue poppies in bloom. It was a site to behold. I'm a big fan of Epimediums. They look good and are hassle free!

    1. Nurseries with display gardens are almost always my favorites. I wish I had made it up to the Rhododendron Species garden for the blue poppies. I may go up this weekend. There may still be some in bloom then. I'm ready to break into epimediums. I have 3 now and the deer haven't touched them. I'm starting to believe they may actually be deer-resistant!

  4. I've heard of this nursery, but never been. I too love nurseries with display gardens. I wish I had the room for a Cedrus deodara. I love the red cones on that 'Taylor's Sunburst' Pine.

    1. It's worth a trip. You and Peter can come down and I'll meet you there! 'Feelin Blue' is a dwarf, only 1-2 feet tall by 3-6 feet wide in 10 years. If you train it in an upright form (as with any weeping tree) it will be taller and narrower. Or look at some of the others at this nursery:

      Maybe the tall, narrow 'Eisregen' or the diminutive 'Silver Mist' could fit in your garden?

      P.S. This nursery is open by appointment. I've been thinking of going for a visit since it's so close to me.

  5. Wow, it's our kind of nursery Evan! So many gorgeous plants especially the Enkianthus! Great haul and hopefully you have fully recovered already from having your wisdom teeth out.

    1. My father and I both loved the Enkianthus. There were so many treasures that I could only show a small fraction of them here.

      Yep, wisdom teeth are out and I'm as mouthy as ever!

  6. I love nursery trek posts. This place looks like a gem. I lost my Azara microphylla several years ago during a cold snap. In spring those sweetly fragrant flowers are to die for. I'm thinking I need another one.

    1. This is one of my new favorites. I had no idea there was a nursery like this only an hour from home. I heard it got down to -2 this last winter in Corvallis. Brrr! It seems a bit odd to me that it was colder down there than here.


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