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Garden Writers Association in Portland, Oregon

Sunday, September 21
Iseli Nursery

Morning lectures, afternoon tours. Today's story tour has two stops. My group, (and that's multiple bus-loads, mind you) visited Terra Nova Nursery first, then Iseli Nursery.

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The nursery was begun in 1975 when André and Jean Iseli bought a small nursery in Boring, located in the favorable climate of the Willamette Valley, east of Portland, Oregon. Renaming it Iseli Nursery, Inc. they dedicated the business to growing and marketing the finest in dwarf conifers and Japanese maples. Since its founding, Iseli has expanded to 500 acres. Today the nursery is recognized as the United State's leading wholesale supplier of dwarf conifers, Japanese maples, specialty broadleaf shrubs and unusual garden trees.

Their stock is of impeccable quality, exemplified by this blue spruce.

But they don't grow just one.

And there are elegant variations on the plants they produce.

You cannot "cherry pick" the best out of the row.
Plants are uniform, and uniformly of the highest quality.
Nursery maintenance is meticulous. No weeds,
not a single broken / wilted / shabby plant to be seen.

They're creative. Look at this odd couple: Pinus sylvestris 'Glauca Nana' and Larix decidua 'Pendula'
This, and other unusual sculpted specimens, are created by growing together two different plants of related genus.
The company ships several styles of these specialty trained specimens to more than 350 retail nurseries.
Depending on size, retail prices for these multigeneric plants can range up to several thousand dollars.

Plant shaped by shearing must be carefully groomed on a regular schedule.
Since the goal is maintaining a previously established shape it is relatively simple,
done twice a year when new growth turns the crisp geometry to a shaggy outline.


Featured throughout the display gardens near the office building are beautifully planted troughs
with dwarf conifers. Mature examples of the nursery's stock, offering contrasts of color, texture, foliage,
conifers and other woody plants, some clipped and trained and all meticulously groomed.
As if the trees and shrubs were not enough, a few flowers, some ornamental grasses "gild the lily."

Did they use a laser, perhaps, to guide the shears this precisely?

A bonsai Carpinus, collected in the wild.

Along paths further away from the building plants grown in a less manipulated style
are on display. A Japanese lantern arises from and is given a backdrop of contrasting conifers,
a Japanese maple cascading to one side. The day was one of low lying clouds, concealing
what would otherwise have been a view of Mt. Hood's snow brushed peak.

No wonder me and Ray and Rob are beaming amidst the conifers of Iseli Nursery.

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