One Green World is a fabulous nursery located in Molalla, Oregon, which is a rural area about a 30-45 minute drive from our house here in Portland. They specialize in unique fruiting (for the most part) trees and shrubs that they have gathered from around the world. They carry the usual suspects, like apple, Asian and European pears, cherries, peaches, etc. But they have several varieties of other plants that you could only find one variety of here in town, if you found them at all. They include things like akebia, aronia, beautyberry, elderberry, gooseberries, goumi, lingonberry, pawpaw, quince, etc. Lots of the plants seem to come from Asia and Russia, although I am starting to see a few plants from South America as well. They have chosen plants that we can grow here in our climate. In some cases, the plants are actually native to North America but have been forgotten over the last century or so.
I have been out to see them in Molalla twice before and it’s generally an underwhelming experience. The staff is great and informative, but they don’t have an actual “nursery” that you can go out and walk around in. It’s just this office you walk into, flip through the catalog, and tell them the code number of the plants you want. You wait about 10-15 minutes and they bring everything out to you. Kind of anti-climatic.
I was poking around their website the other day, in anticipation of the new catalog coming out, and noticed a small announcement about a Harvest Festival & Orchard Tour. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, since there was no other info other than time and date. Jay and I piled in the car and decided to explore.
We got there just in time to join one of the three tours they were having that day. It was all very informal, but so unbelievably cool for anyone who is into this stuff. I can’t believe they didn’t blast news all over their website about the event! We spent about 2 hours walking through their orchard, learning about the different plants, and even picking fruit off the actual trees to try. This may not sound so mind boggling, but it was such a great opportunity to learn all about these plants I have a) never heard of, b) never seen full grown, and c) never tasted!
Last Spring I bought an autumn olive tree after learning about what a multi-functional tree/shrub it is. It is a nitrogen-fixer for the soil and produces edible berries that humans and birds alike can enjoy. I have never actually seen an autumn olive tree though, let alone tasted the berries. I got to do both Saturday! The tree will grow quite a bit larger than I originally thought and the ones we saw were dripping with berries. It’s hard to see from the picture, but they are tiny red berries with a light, whitish stripe around them. They would be perfect to put on toast and smush with a knife to eat.
Another great discovery was the hardy kiwi plant. Most people respond with, “You can grow kiwi in the NW?”, and the answer is yes! I can’t speak for the fuzzy kiwi plants, which they also carry, but apparently the hardy kiwi and arctic beauty kiwi do really well in our climate. The hardy kiwi is now on my list o buy this spring, after the sheet mulching. The leaves were a brilliant yellow, so it should be some great fall interest in the yard. But the best part was by far they fabulous fruit hanging on the twisty vines. They are smaller than a fuzzy kiwi – about plum size – but you can eat the whole thing, skin and all. I ate about 10. They are also a little firmer than a fuzzy kiwi, which might win people over that don’t like a typical kiwi texture.
What else? Man, there were so many cool discoveries. Okay, akebia. Have you heard of this vine? It’s suppose to have wonderfully fragrant flowers and I believe it comes from Asia. It can produce this crazy fruit like I have never seen before. They have these large, oval, purple pods that open to reveal something that looks like a slug. Except the slug is translucent with black seeds in it. They had some available inside for tasting and it was like a tapioca consistency. I am not a huge tapioca fan, so I forgo adding this very unusual plant to my yard
Dogwoods are some of my favorite trees and I remember seeing that they offered a fruiting dogwood. I had no idea what that meant, but I saw one at the tour and even got to pluck one off the tree (okay, I ate three). First off, they look like something from another planet. And we all know how Renee loves things that look like they are from another planet. The fruit is delicious though – you peel back the skin and it’s like a mushy mango fruit. It would be great spread on muffins and the like. Even Jay liked it, and he is normally anti-mango. Plus you get the great, standard dogwood flowers in the Spring and lovely colored leaves in the Fall.
Flowering quince is a lovely little shrub with heavy fruit with a slightly citrus flavor. Apparently it makes excellent jam and preserves. I am also considering an aronia plant, which is a small tree that has lovely scarlet color for fall and dark blue berries – great in juice.
After the tour we were able to sample tons of different fruit from the plants they sell including about 15 apple varieties, 10 grape varieties, jujube fruit, pawpaws, seaberries, currants, elderberries, persimmons, etc. The grape tasting really helped me narrow down which vines we will add this Spring. It also gave us some great new ideas of how to use our fruit, like making currant gelato. Oh man, it was amazing.
This might be the longest post ever, so I’ll wrap it up. If you aren’t from Portland, but have been looking for some of these plants, I believe they ship all over the place. I would write them an email though with any questions about certain plants. An autumn olive here in the NW is great, but apparently it can become a pest in places like Connecticut where it runs wild. Good to check that stuff out before shoving it in the ground!
And by the way, I would just like to state for the record that it would be my dream come true to run a nursery propagating plants I have brought back from my travels around the world. And vice verse – having to travel around the world in search of plant knowledge. How f@#%ing cool is that?