Trip to Dancing Oaks

Looking back on my trip to Dancing Oaks Nursery back in June before everything dried out. Dancing Oaks is one of the closer nurseries to Corvallis and has a superb variety of plants as well as a beautiful display garden. Because it is nearby, the climate and soil at the nursery is very similar to ours. That means that plants that do well over at Dancing Oaks almost always do well in our yard too. Here’s the view heading out to the nursery. This photo looks out over a harvested turfgrass field in the foreground. Did you know Oregon is the largest producer of cool-season turfgrass seed in the entire world? Yeah, I didn’t know either when I moved here 13 years ago and let me tell you, it’s awful. One of my top ten allergies is to grass pollen. The green hill on the right side is a newish vineyard that has gone in, and the hills in the background are the Coast Range.

That leads to another garden tip for selecting the right plants for your garden. Generally, the closer the nursery is to your home and the more similar their conditions are to your own yard, the more likely you are to have success with their plants. If you order plants from the other side of the country from a completely different climate, those plants might not do as well for you. For example, I have an extremely high success rate with plants from Dancing Oaks. Almost everything I buy from them does well in my yard. That means that this little Silver Lace hornbeam (Carpinus japonica ‘Silver Lace’ that caught my eye is likely to do well too. Sold!

The finely cut leaves of Silver Lace hornbean
Carpinus japonicus 'Silver Lace'

What attracted me are those deeply cut leaves with a silvery-reddish cast. It’s eventually going to be a smallish tree that will appreciate partial shade. So now I just have to figure out where to put it…

This giant silver mullein (Verbascum bombyciferum) flower also caught my eye. I like the flower, but I don’t know if I like the rest of the plant. I still think of it as a weed and I can’t quite twist my mind around to seeing how it would look good in my garden. If I could though, this would be a great drought tolerant plant that the deer and rabbits would leave alone.

Bright yellow flowers on the giant silver mullein
Verbascum bombyciferum

I like the patterning on this spotted marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).

The pink and white peppermint flowers of a marsh orchid
Dactylorhiza fuchsii

I also really like this water feature. Water drips from the container of sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) into a small pond below.

This dark purple iris pops against the chartreuse leaves in the background.

Very dark, almost black iris
Iris chrysographes?

I find the variegation and the horizontal aspect of this aralia tree (Aralia elata ‘Aureovariegata’) mesmerizing. Note the yellow candelabras of the mullein flowers lurking on the left.

Variegated aralia tree
Aralia elata 'Aureovariegata'

I was gifted one of these purple leaved hydrangeas recently, so I am glad to see what it will look like in a few years if I don’t kill it. Sort of surprised to see it in full sun. I planted mine in full shade where I hopefully won’t need to water it (much).

Purple leaved hydrangea
Hydrangea aspera

I almost caved and bought this variegated dove tree (Davidia involucrata ‘Lady Sunshine’).  Don’t like the name though and $175 is steep for a tree that I would put underneath the poplar tree that periodically implodes (here). Possibly one of the best variegated leaved I have seen on a plant in a long time. I can hardly imagine how beautifully this would light up the dark corner underneath the ponderosa pines next to the garage. Gosh this is stunning.

Best variegated leaves ever
Davidia involucrata 'Lady Sunshine'

I wish I could get my delphiniums to live this long and get this large.

Almost bought the purple onion with the cute forelock of green sticking out of it (Allium ‘Forelock’). I probably would have bought the kangaroo paw (Anigozanthus) had it been for sale. And, I got reprimanded at home for not buying the giant leaved begonia for L. Those leaves were alarmingly large.

The bamboo was completely flattened and broken during the ice storm back in February. Seems to be recovering nicely. Already taller than I am. One of the signature oaks (of Dancing Oaks), however, lost a lot of branches. It’s still alive though.

I forget why I took this picture, but I do like the way the lavender spills over the patio bricks. Plus, look at that! Another yellow mullein flower spike jumping out from behind the lavender to the right. I just noticed the metal Arisaema flower form in the middle. Do you see it?

My favorite part of the Dancing Oaks display gardens is the dry meadow/shrubland. Lots of PNW and California natives.

This California buckeye was covered in bees.

White spiky flowers on California buckeye
Aesculus californica

Agave parryi about to bloom back in June. It’s actually blooming right now (July 11th) if you want to go see it. Tempted to try my hand at growing agaves outdoors again now that the PNW is turning so dry in the summer. The hard part would be keeping it from rotting in the winter.

Bloom spike on Agave parryi
Agave parryi

Time to head home! The view from the crest of the hill heading back down into the Willamette Valley. Vineyard on the left this time. Those are more fields of grass seed in the middle of the picture in various colors of brown, yellow, and green. If you look close, you’ll see the Cascade Mountain Range in the background with white snowy peak of Jefferson on the far right.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. danger garden

    Great photos of D.O., such a fabulous place to visit. That begonia is pretty amazing… tempting.


      The begonia ended up going to a local high school in Salem to teach the students about leaf propagation. Apparently, it’s still doing really well in a warm, humid greenhouse. If they are successful, maybe it will end up coming back home.

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