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“Well I was feeling really rotten the other day, I was feeling washed up …. and I said to myself: I know what I’m going to do–I’m going to take myself out.” – Laurie Anderson, Language is a Virus

Gate to the Empress Display Garden at Lael's Moon Garden Nursery

I don’t know about you, but this quote from Laurie Anderson’s “Language is a Virus” perfectly describes how I feel every February. There is only one solution to this problem and that is to get yourself out – out of the house, out of your routine, outside! Badly in need of a “morale event” I decided to visit a nursery (of course), and Bethany and Larry Lael’s Moon Garden Nursery was the perfect antidote for my almost end of winter doldrums. Their slogan is “Plant Your Own Eden” and they are not kidding. That is exactly what they have done with their garden which is also their nursery and their home.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the garden was a sign that read “The best time to plant a shrub is 10 years ago or right now”. Lael’s Moon Garden is filled with inspiring sights like that. I love it that they only sell perennials, and that those perennials must be able to winter over outdoors. There are no greenhouses or indoor nurseries at Lael’s. Many of the trees, shrubs and plants that they sell are planted right there in one of their gardens so that you can get a good idea of the conditions needed for them to thrive. Bird lovers would also enjoy Lael’s Moon Garden – I saw at least 10 species of birds (among them was a Western Scrub Jay which I had never seen before) which means there are probably at least 20 more I didn’t see.

So many perennials and they are all hardy!

I arrived just after their 10 am opening time and even though I could tell there was quite a bit of work that needed to be done, Larry spent almost an hour just showing me around the different gardens on the property and pointing out shrubs and trees of interest in the nursery. He educated me about planting, pruning, and taking care of my fragrant azaleas. He is the self proclaimed “Garden Curmudgeon” but you would never guess this from his friendly attitude and generosity with his time and advice.

I forgot to take my camera, which turned out to be a good thing since nobody will be wowed by photos of a 3rd of March garden in the PNW. Luckily I got to meet Bethany Lael before she was off to an appointment and she generously offered to let me use photos from their website for this post. In my opinion it would be disrespectful and cruel to take pictures of any garden before it is cleaned up and things are leafing out; similar to taking an “I just woke up” picture of your beautiful grandmother who is never seen without her hair perfectly done and wearing a nice outfit.

Lael's has a wide selection of conifers.

Lael’s has over 1000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees in stock. They only sell perennials and they do have rare native (and non-native) plants in stock. If you attended the NWFGS last year and saw the Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ or recently saw it featured on Gardening with Ciscoe, you might feel that you must have one for your garden. You can get one at Lael’s! They have the ‘Flying Dragon’ in stock in 1 or 2 gallon pots. They had a fairly large Poncirus trifoliata (it’s not contorted like the ‘Flying Dragon’) for sale if that’s your cup of tea. They also have a respectable selection of pots, real granite garden statues, soil amendments and much more.

Blue Poppies (meconopsis) and Full Moon Maple under Red Oak

I think I’ll go back to Lael’s Moon Garden around the beginning of April. It’s well worth the time it takes to drive to Rochester, which is south of Olympia, and it’s easy to find because it’s only 8 minutes away after you get off of I-5. Just make sure your vehicle is big enough to hold those purchases you are about to make. From March-October Lael’s Moon Garden is open Thursday-Monday from 10am-6pm or by appointment. If you can’t visit you should check out their website. It is a treasure trove of information.


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