A trip to Cistus Nursery

I visited Cistus Design Nursery near the end of March and am just getting around to posting the photos. A couple more visits have occurred since then, but on that day I spent a lot of time just enjoying the sights through my camera lens. It was a beautiful, sunny day, unlike the weather we've been having lately.

It was the first time in months that I had really taken my camera out just for the joy of photography. I hadn't realized how much I missed it. As a former employee and friend, I get to peak into the back houses, but you can follow along with me here. All the greenhouses are getting a lot of work done to tidy them up. It's really wonderful to see and they look great. I've only included one wide shot, as it's still a work in progress

Pandorea pandorana 'Golden Showers' caught my eye right away.

I love the curled new leaves of Fatsia japonica 'Murakumo Nishiki'.

The dark foliage of Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Atropurpureum' against the bright green of this Mahonia fortunei creates quite the contrast.

New growth on Mahonia lomariifolia ssp. tenuifolia DJH MJA

Fuzzy red new growth on Quercus miquiana.

Like tiny orange daffodils, the flowers of Berberis darwinii are lovely with a little backlighting, or even without.

An incredibly dark Aeonium.

Palms! Those in the foreground are Trachycarpus fortunei 'Wagnerianus'. I'll be needing three of those for a bed I'm planting this spring. But that day, I left them behind.

The Clivia were just getting started when I visited in March, and have been blooming abundantly since.

Magnolia laevifolia blooming early in a warm greenhouse. It smelled so good!

The bright orange of a senescing leaf on a Senecio, maybe Senecio aschenbornianus?

Velvety new growth on Neolitsea sericea shimmers in shades of gold from white to red.

A different shade of Stachyurus flower, "Stachyurus praecox mitsuzaki Diane" is what the label said.

Out in the garden, the blooms of Berberis darwinii aren't far behind their counterparts in the greenhouses.

I must admit, I never fully appreciated the beauty of Berberis jamesiana until I saw these old berries that have been hanging on all winter, backlit so that they glow like rubies.

Fuzzy seed heads of cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, catching the light.

Eucalyptus neglecta and this native mahonia make a lovely combination.

Aristolochia californica blooms so early!

More lovely mahonias blooming away, to the delight of bees and hummingbirds.

One of my primary objectives in visiting that day was to decide whether I wanted Trachycarpus fortunei, or the tidier but smaller fronds of 'Wagnerianus', shown below.

I think the leaves of 'Wagnerianus' are plenty big, and look so much nicer than regular fortunei.

They're even attractive after they've dried up and turned completely brown!

Schefflera delavayi. Must add another of these to the garden this year.

I loved this combination of Polypodium, Phlomis, bulb foliage, and just a little Oxalis oregana. On a return trip to Cistus last week, the Oxalis had all but engulfed the fern.

Oh, Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Akebono', why must you torment me? I've given up growing it in my garden, after two years in a row seeing the flower buds killed by either extreme cold or a late frost. I do love seeing it in other gardens, though.

Two plants I am not fond of, flowering fruit trees and forsythia, but I couldn't deny the beauty of this combination.

I love this Hedera colchica 'Sulphur Heart'. It can still take over a garden bed, but it's not going to reseed like the invasive ivy we battle in the PNW.

One last shot. I was captivated by the light shining through these hellebores.

Taxonomic Note: I've been informed of a new, more comprehensive phylogenetic study published in December, 2017, done on Berberis and Mahonia, which reinstates Mahonia as a distinct genus and proposes the new genera Alloberberis for the species formerly in Mahonia section Horridae and Moranothamnus for Mahonia claireae. These are proposals only, and I find no references to the study that say the proposals have been accepted, but I also am not privy to the latest decisions on the taxonomic world stage (most boring play ever). At the very least, though, it sheds doubt on the merging of Mahonia into Berberis, so call them whatever you want! Apologies for the taxonomic whiplash. I'm dealing with it myself, too.


  1. Wonderful photos. You need to take your camera for a walk more often. I'm now hung up on that Berberis darwinii. Plant Lust says its suitable to zone 10 but also that it needs regular water.

    1. Thanks! I really do. Poor camera needs the exercise. I'm really not sure how well Berberis darwinii would do in southern California. USDA zones are only useful for average winter lows. They tell you nothing about a plants tolerance for heat or drought. According to Dave's Garden, people are growing it in the eastern Bay Area, so at least there's that. In the PNW, it will grow in dry shade. I don't know how much water it would need in your area.

  2. Brings back memories, a plant paradise of a place!

  3. What an eye candy this post is! The photo of Berberis jamesiana dangling fruit is stunning! I could easily frame it and look at it all day. Berberis darwinii would get too big for my small garden, but those orange flowers get me every time... can we assume you got 'Wagnerianus' on one of your subsequent visits?

  4. It's always exciting to visit this treasure trove of cool plants and it's especially nice to see it through your lens.

    1. I know that place well, so I can show all the good stuff!

  5. Great minds! Today I posted several phone photos from our visit last week. Such a photographable place. So you've decided to go strictly T. 'Wagnerianus'? I've got one T. fortunei and two 'Wag' and I must say it's nice to have the contrast.

    1. Yes, just the waggies. I'm putting a trio in one bed and I'd rather have them more similar than not. I also am just not particularly fond of the droopy filifers of regular fortunei. They end up looking too tattered and require more attentive grooming.

  6. Nice to get your inside tour -- love that last shot of hellebores dancing in light!

  7. You must have had fun with your camera, as the results are splendid.

    Where palms are concerned the tidy ones are just better.


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