My brother and his family live in Grants Pass in Southern Oregon. I’m envious of their area madrone trees, Arbutus menziesii, so common that my brother cuts it up for firewood! I know they are available from nurseries in Portland, but they can be expensive and are not always available. My sister-in-law got a recommendation to look for them at Forestfarm. I find myself often clicking through their online plant list, and never thought to check and see how close they are to Grants Pass! A family trip during the new year holiday was my first visit there.
The first thing to know about Forestfarm is that it is not just a regular retail nursery. The funds raised by nursery sales support the non-profit Pacifica, which operates an environmental education program, nature center, and botanical garden and community arts center.
Being January, things were quiet.
Soon enough I was racing around admiring the amazing variety in the greenhouses. In fact, I was so rushed in my excitement to see it all that most of my photos range from blurry to totally unusable. Even though it was a sunny day with plenty of room to throw a football and run around, plant nurseries bore kids quickly. And we were out numbered, 5 kids to only 4 adults. I could have spent all day there, but needless to say we didn’t.
Forestfarm grows and sells all kinds of plants, ornamentals and natives, perennials and woody plants. On this visit, the evergreen trees caught my eye. Here’s the first out-of-focus photo, Portuguese oak, Quercus faginea.
Here’s a couple better shots. I love this little tree, pineapple broom, Argyrocytisus battendieri. I bought one from Cistus in the fall, but I should have bought a second one. Next time.
The coat of fuzz gives the leaves its attractive silvery look.
Chinese fir, Cunninghamia lanceolata ‘Glauca’
Neolitsea sericea, which I only know from Sean Hogan’s enthusiastic recommendation in his book, Trees for All Seasons, and one not-so-happy specimen I noticed one day in Hoyt Arboretum.
Quercus glauca, Japanese ring-cupped oak (or blue, or glaucus-leafed oak)
Quercus sadleriana, Sadler’s oak, is a SW Oregon native shrub up to 10 feet tall. Sounds like a good candidate species for a hedge.
Quercus agrifolia, coast live oak
Maytenus boaria, an evergreen tree from Chile develops a weeping habit in maturity.
Persea borbonia, an avocado relative.
Eucryphia nymansensis ‘Mt Usher’
Another crummy shot, but I had to include it — I love the leaves, Eucryphia lucida ‘Pink Cloud.’
Lagarostrobos franklinii, Huon pine.
I notice that some of these trees are not listed in their catalog, so likely they are not available to order. But it’s fun to visit and get a look as some of the more unusual ones.
The good news for anyone who doesn’t live in the vicinity of Williams, OR is that Forestfarm is a mail order nursery. My sister in Boston knows of them and has ordered from them. The good news for anyone who does decide to visit in person is that the staff is very very friendly and helpful. Greg greeted us when we arrived, gave us the run down on how to fill out the purchase forms and let us wander freely, assisting us with our questions and purchases.
Oh, and here’s my new baby madrone.
Madrones have a reputation as tricky for garden conditions — they don’t like to have their root system disturbed. They need well drained soil and don’t like supplemental water. But I was encouraged by information on the Xera Plants website regarding success of seed-raised container plants. We’ll see how it goes — a tree this size is not a big investment, and it’s definitely worth a try.
I can’t wait to make my next visit to Forestfarm. Until then, I can enjoy poring over their 240-page catalog!
If you make the trip out to Forestfarm in Williams, I recommend making a stop at the near by Pennington Farms for a snack of delicious baked goods and a few jars of jam to take home.