Joy Creek Nursery vs. “Mr. Bear”, Plus a Giveaway!

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Win a $40 gift certificate to Joy Creek Nursery! JCN opens for the 2017 season this Saturday, February 25. (They do mail order, too.) But first, a visit to this amazing nursery in Scappoose, Oregon, 20 miles northwest of Portland.

I was invited to Joy Creek recently, along with some of my garden blogger friends, by co-owners Maurice Horn and Mike Smith. Tamara Paulat and Ricki Grady had a delicious spread waiting for us.

Mike took us on a tour of the display gardens. Joy Creek Nursery has incredible display gardens, though this past winter has been rough on them. The most spectacular event was a storm that was predicted to drop 4 to 6 inches of snow. Mike said it dropped 18 inches of the white stuff.

He showed us plants that had been damaged, evaluated the damage, and explained his plan of action.

The “dwarf” Japanese white pine (a selection of Pinus parviflora) was an easy one. Too much of it had been torn away, the rest will likely to go in the next storm. It is a hazard. The tree will be removed.

 ×burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’ was a little more difficult to diagnose. This mature specimen used to be 4 feet tall, Mike said, but after the snow melted it was only 2 feet tall. He said the flattening of the poor plant reminded him of a book he loved when he was a kid.

Are the branches broken? Hard to tell. Maybe not. Daphne has very flexible branches. Mike will take a wait-and-see approach on this one.

This bigleaf Chinese hydrangea (Hydrangea aspera ‘Macrophylla’) fell over in the storm. Luckily, there is one stem remaining that is solidly rooted in the ground. The plant will live on.

This juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’, to be exact) looks like a goner, but Mike says it can be tied back up and given a trim, and it will be fine.

Mike Smith will give a free pruning demo on Sunday, March 5 at Joy Creek Nursery if you want to see the master in action.

Mike and Maurice (pronounced like “Morris”) feel that teaching is an important part of their mission. When I visited Joy Creek a couple of years ago to do a story for the HPSO Quarterly, Maurice told me, “We made a commitment to education early on, because we want people to succeed. We’re ardent about that.”

If you get a chance to hear Maurice speak, you MUST go. Besides being a consummate plantsman, he’s a wonderful storyteller. I could listen to him for hours.

Maurice gave a presentation to our group about the “stumpery” he and his partner George recently put in at their home. Recycling some dead Lombardy poplars, they created a magical space by having the logs cut up into different lengths, installing them cut side up, and planting the gaps with ferns and other woodland plants. Kind of hard to describe, but the effect was fantastic. I hope to see it in person someday soon.

Joy Creek Nursery turns 25 years old this year! Why don’t we celebrate with some photos from some of the more flowery times of the year? These are delphiniums that Mike and Maurice grew from seed. They insist that some of them are 20 years old. (And you thought all delphiniums were short-lived.)

Joy Creek is probably best known for its clematis collection, and Maurice is an internationally recognized clematis expert. This seductress is called ‘Romantika’. I saw it in May last year in the display gardens.

JCN is also known for its hydrangeas. I took this photo last June at the gardens, and no, I did not enhance it. I couldn’t find a name tag.

Fun fact: Maurice told us that there’s a selection of Hydrangea serrata that’s grown for the sugar in its leaves!

Penstemons are another specialty, as are fuchsias, hostas, and dianthus.

The display gardens not only show customers what the plants look like in a garden setting, but they’re a way for Mike and Maurice to test plants out. There are several different habitats featured. Near the sales area is a big mounded rock garden.

Close to the house (Mike lives on the property), shade garden beauties occupy the forest floor. Mike decided to save many of the original rhododendrons that came with the house, and their spent petals adorn the plants.

Irrigated display beds in full sun hold Siberian irises (Iris sibirica).

And the rudbeckia beds nearby are not to be missed in summer.

In celebration of the season opening this Saturday, February 25, I’m giving away a $40 gift certificate to Joy Creek Nursery to be used at the nursery or online (they do mail-order, too).

Just leave a comment below indicating that you’d like to enter. Entering the contest will also subscribe you to new posts from The World’s Best Gardening Blog if you don’t already receive them; however, if you wish to unsubscribe, you can easily do so.

Submissions will be received until 11:59 pm (Pacific time) on Monday, Feb. 20, and the winner will be announced at 10:00 am (Pacific time) on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Good luck!

And the winner of the $40 gift certificate (thanks to is… Christine Zimmerman! Thanks to all of you who commented and happy gardening!

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73 Responses

  1. Amy Olmsted
    Amy Olmsted at | | Reply

    What a heartbreak to lose so many old friends in the garden! We had the same thing happen in Vermont a few years ago when a storm in April dropped 18″ of heavy snow on the newly arrived perennials. Lifting the snow off the plants wore my arms right out!

  2. Kathy Larson
    Kathy Larson at | | Reply

    My heart goes out to them-we had a severe ice storm here in Iowa ten years ago this week that changed our garden.White pines lost a lot of limbs,arborvitae’Smaragd’ all bent double.Breaking limbs really do sound like gunshots!

  3. Kay Miller
    Kay Miller at | | Reply

    Amy, I greatly enjoy your gardening blog and perspective. I would love to enter your contest for a gift certificate to Joy Creek Nursery. We live in Texas, but will be attending the International Master Gardeners Conference in Portland this July. I would love to take a little bit of the Pacific Northwest home with me. We are also considering a move to the Portland area in a couple years.
    Thanks for keeping us educated about all things green and growing.

  4. christine zimmerman
    christine zimmerman at | | Reply

    i would like to enter your contest. thanks 🙂

  5. Paula Bessette
    Paula Bessette at | | Reply

    Please enter me in the contest.
    I love seeing your posts and I love Joy Creek Nursery.

  6. mia vermillion
    mia vermillion at | | Reply

    Please enter me in the contest and thanks for your informative blog

  7. Laurie
    Laurie at | | Reply

    Joy Creek is a true treasure, both because of the wonderful people who work there and the fantastic array of plants they make available for sale. Thank you for the opportunity to enter the contest and I know whoever receives your gift certificate will enjoy their shopping adventure. I look forward to seeing how Maurice and Mike continue to transform their garden after this past challenging winter.

  8. Paul
    Paul at | | Reply

    Oof, weather is a fickle thing.

    I love the composition under the Rhododendron. Good use of fallen flowers.

    Count me in for the contest, too!

  9. Susan
    Susan at | | Reply

    I love Joy Creek Nursery. Their plants always do well for me. Please enter me in the drawing!

  10. Marie
    Marie at | | Reply

    Amy – I would like to enter the contest, please!

    What a terrific story about the residency and tenacity of nature, specifically thinking of the bigleaf Chinese hydrangea with its one remaining stem that will keep the bush alive and the juniper now in two pieces but tied together will become one once again. I’ve not been to Joy Creek Nursery and look forward to exploring it this Saturday.

  11. Phillip
    Phillip at | | Reply

    Count me in! I love this place and I would estimate that about 60% of my plants so far have come from their nursery. It is such a fantastic place to visit even if you are not buying plants.

  12. Evan
    Evan at | | Reply

    Wow! Twenty-five years. Joy Creek is almost as old as I am. Great post, Amy. Count me in for the drawing!

  13. Grace Peterson
    Grace Peterson at | | Reply

    Hi Amy,

    It’s really true about the JCN delphiniums. A few years ago my sister purchased one and it is so reliable and long blooming. Your photos are outstanding. I really think that this is the year I will make it to the nursery. I simply must see it in person.

    Please enter me in the drawing! I think I “need” a few more clemmies and fuchsias and dianthus and oh yes, those delphiniums!!

  14. Nancy L.
    Nancy L. at | | Reply

    Hi Amy: I, too, would like to enter your contest. I love your blogs. Always pleased to see one in my inbox when they come. My connection with you began the day I casually met you in my general neighborhood (I was on a walk) and you were photographing things that attracted you . (NE Alameda Drive and about 21st that day – back a few yrs now – you shared you had a new home and a garden to develop). We visited for a while and I remembered your name as I came back home. Found you online and have been receiving your blogs ever since. Thank you for the detailed info and nice photos you share.

  15. Loree
    Loree at | | Reply

    Don’t enter me in the drawing, I’m still working on a JC GC, I just wanted to say how much I love that photo of Mike and Maurice, it’s a good one!

    1. Tamara (Chickadee Gardens)
      Tamara (Chickadee Gardens) at | | Reply

      yes, me too, obviously….about the gift certificate….but just wanted to say DOUBLY agree on the photo, Loree! I LOVE that one!

  16. Colleen
    Colleen at | | Reply

    Hi Amy! I found your blog via Chickadee Gardens and I’m really enjoying both blogs! Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

  17. Tamara (Chickadee Gardens)
    Tamara (Chickadee Gardens) at | | Reply

    Thanks for the awesome write up, Amy! You are very sweet and got some great photos at the nursery. Yay! 🙂

  18. Barbara Kelberlau
    Barbara Kelberlau at | | Reply

    Love your blog! Please enter me, thanks!!

  19. Nancy St George
    Nancy St George at | | Reply

    Love your blog and love Joy Creek. Just got clematis Romantika last year. It is a beauty! Please enter me in the contest.

  20. Moureen Ballard
    Moureen Ballard at | | Reply

    I loved your comments about Joy Creek Nursery and after see what this winter has done to my garden I understand their frustration with the weather!. I would like to enter your contest for the gift certificate – Any excuse for a road trip to a wonderful nursery!

  21. Janice Nelson
    Janice Nelson at | | Reply

    I love Joy Creek! I go to their classes whenever I can. Please enter me into the contest!

  22. Shareyn Russell
    Shareyn Russell at | | Reply

    Please enter me in your contest! The Welsh Poppies that I purchased from you are beautiful and have multiplied like crazy. I get alot f compliments about them!

  23. Szilvia Frazier
    Szilvia Frazier at | | Reply

    I would like to enter the contest for the JCN shopping spree 🙂 Looks like a fun place to visit! I enjoy your blog – I moved to Portland about a year ago and new to gardening in this climate, so i’m getting some inspiration here!

  24. Matthew - The Lents Farmer
    Matthew - The Lents Farmer at | | Reply

    That was a lovely day at Joy Creek. Such gracious hosts! I’d love to enter the contest of course 🙂

  25. Sharon Kitashima
    Sharon Kitashima at | | Reply

    Joy Creek Nursery is one of my “go to” nurseries throughout the growing season. Living in Battle Ground doesn’t deter me from making the trek out there. Everyone is so helpful, I always find just what I am looking for, and then some. Some of the best plants in my garden have come from Joy Creek Nursery. I have Alstroemeria ‘Butterscotch’ and continue to get comments from people about its beauty. I would love to enter the Joy Creek Nursery gift certificate so I can do more plant shopping there. Thanks.

  26. Mary DeNoyer
    Mary DeNoyer at | | Reply

    Thanks for another great blog Amy. Yes please enter me and I’ll be signing up for Mike’s pruning demo.

  27. David Morgan
    David Morgan at | | Reply

    Love Joy Creek! The only source for many uncommon clematis varieties… would love to enter the contest!

  28. Laura
    Laura at | | Reply

    Joy Creek has been a favorite destination for many years. I remember when it had three owners, although I can’t remember the specific names now. It may have been Mike, Maurice and somebody else.

  29. rickii
    rickii at | | Reply

    Great write-up and nice way to get your readers interested in Joy Creek…and good work getting those shy guys to put on their best faces for your camera! I’ll stay out of your contest but wanted to heap praise upon you for your fine efforts.

  30. Jo Ellen Pachelbel
    Jo Ellen Pachelbel at | | Reply

    I also grew up with Mr. Bear Squash You All Flat. It was a favorite childhood book. I’d love to enter the contest for one of my favorite spots in our little garden world!! Can’t wait for opening day! Missed all the folk, flowers and gsrden ideas that abound at Joy Creek. And how wonderful to discover your blog, Amy.

  31. Patti Witherite
    Patti Witherite at | | Reply

    Oh my yes I wish to subscribe AND a chance to win that gift certificate. I 💚 Joy Creek – I always find something new and always enjoy strolling through the gardens. On my last visit I brought my neighbors daughter Jasmine with me. She enjoyed walking through the gardens, helped me choose some and was really amazed by the bamboo patch. It’s a joy sharing my love of gardening with the next generation.

  32. T Milbrat
    T Milbrat at | | Reply

    Joy Creek has a wonderful series of lectures and classes over the summer! One of my favorites is the “twilight in the garden” that they host towards the end of the season. The garden is in full splendor.

  33. Paula Lundquist
    Paula Lundquist at | | Reply

    I would love to be entered in the contest for the gift certificate! Though I don’t live nearby (Denver, CO), I had the great pleasure of visiting Joy Creek with a friend from Seattle. We both left with great ideas from the demonstration gardens, and a host of plants – some of which I had to figure out how to carefully pack in my luggage for the return trip to Denver. In the winter I like to peruse catalogs and websites of my favorite nurseries, and Joy Creek is one I visit over and over!

  34. Melissa Krivensky
    Melissa Krivensky at | | Reply

    Please enter me in the drawing as well! I plan on making a trip up to Joy Creek nursery from Chicago later this year. Thank you.

    – Melissa

  35. Anna Kullgren
    Anna Kullgren at | | Reply

    What a sweet post! And yes – that is a fabulous photo. It looks so different in full floral fancy – I can’t wait! 🙂

  36. Mike McGarvey
    Mike McGarvey at | | Reply

    Obviously I’m late for the contest, but I will be visiting Joy Creek Nursery in May. My wife and I will be vacationing near Mt. Hood. Welches
    I want you to take a look at my garden in the foothills SE of Seattle. The garden is on ten acres and almost 40 years old. I started it in 1978. There are several albums. Feel free to look them over. I’m sure you will be surprised. 🙂
    I’m the one who sent you a pic of one of my Parrotias in your last post.
    It’s going to be fun meeting Mike and Maurice.
    Best regards,
    Michael Maurice McGarvey. Pronounced Morris! After my Grandfather.

  37. Mike McGarvey
    Mike McGarvey at | | Reply

    I made it to Joy Creek Nursery and had a long, fun talk with Maurice. What a neat place! I really enjoyed walking around the landscape and seeing all the plants.
    Thank you, Amy.

Please comment with your real name using good manners.

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