Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Christie Mackison is co-owner of Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point.
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Christie Mackison and her husband Scott founded Shooting Star Nursery in 2005.
âThe most essential element of any garden is not a particular object, plant or tool. What is vital is a gardener who enjoys it.
– Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden, âPlant-Based Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place and Spirit,â 2008
This is the second column and podcast in a new series called âWomen’s Work with Plants,â featuring various local women whose work increases community access to gardens, gardening, plants. locally grown and / or healthy foods grown locally.
I was inspired to start the series after reading Jennifer Jewel’s book “The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants” (2020).
This week, I’m excited to share the story of Christie Mackison, who owns and operates the Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point with her husband, Scott. Shooting Star is well known in the garden community as one of the best places in the valley to find native plants and other locally grown plants that will thrive in our climate. Did you know that Shooting Star takes its name from a pretty native wild flower (Dodecatheon meadia) of the primrose family?
Christie is also a landscaper and does consulting work throughout the valley. When I got the idea to grow a Shakespeare-inspired botanical garden at Hanley Farm five years ago, I asked Christie to sketch out some design ideas for the project, which I found overwhelming. in the beginning. In fact, it is Christie’s specialty.
âI like to think that we provide a niche for people who need help looking after their garden and don’t have something so big or elaborate that they need a landscape architect or a full-fledged entrepreneur, âsaid Christie. âI like being able to help the average client with small to mid-sized projects and help them make their world a better place. “
Although Christie has said that she is very happy to help people imagine their future garden, her favorite part is âdelivering a nice range of plants and arranging them perfectlyâ for planting. âNothing makes me happier than helping someone add beauty, greenery and utility to their space,â Christie said.
Christie’s plant recommendations for Rogue Valley focus on drought tolerant perennials, shrubs, grasses and trees adapted to the region.
âWe’re also focusing on plants that attract pollinators, have a long flowering period or multiple seasons of interest, and as many natives as possible,â Christie said. “We like to think that we have selected plants that gardeners will be successful with, knowing that there is so much to choose from out there.”
Christie brings her knowledge of the garden and her plants to her work with Direct Involvement Recreation Teaching (DIRT), a local non-profit organization that supports school and community gardens. DIRT has helped set up / maintain gardens at Mae Richardson Elementary School, Jewett Elementary School, Hanby Middle School and Skyrman Arboretum in Central Point.
âWorking on the various school gardens that we have helped has been very rewarding,â said Christie. âAt Mae Richardson Elementary, we used edible plants that are suitable for children and pollinators, and that generate some interest during the school year. It was so much fun to see the kids come out and work in the garden.
Christie said she had always loved plants, no doubt passed down from her father, a landscape contractor. However, her early career as an architect took her to designing buildings, not gardens. Then she decided to take a break from architecture and began volunteering at greenhouses and nurseries in Portland where she lived. Eventually, she got a job at Joy Creek Nursery outside of Portland, which “really inspired me with their elaborate show garden, retail plant sales, and landscape design and installation business.” .
She started her own landscaping business in Portland before moving to Rogue Valley in 2004. She and Scott opened Shooting Star Nursery in 2005, starting small and growing each year until they own over 7 years. acres of plants.
To begin this week’s column, I’ve chosen a quote from the authors of one of Christie’s inspirational garden books, âPlant-Driven Design,â in which Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden champion the design of naturalist gardens. . I’ll end with another passage from the book, which seems to sum up Christie’s work in increasing access to gardens and plants.
The authors write: “When we allow plants rather than architecture to run the show, and when we learn the choice and placement to honor them, limitless possibilities emerge to reconnect with the natural world …”
Christie’s Favorite Plants
âIt’s so hard to pick a favorite, but the manzanitas and the salvia family are two of my favorites. The manzanitas are one of the reasons we fell in love with this area. They are truly plants of all-season interest: they provide nectar to pollinators in early spring, a beautiful red bark that is hard as nails. Salvias come in many forms and their vibrant colors touch me every time. I mean, ‘Black & Blue’ salvia – what’s not to love that cobalt blue? Hummingbirds agree with me.
The women who inspired Christie
âAnne Lovejoy was one of the first influences in my early days of planting. Lorene Edwards Forkner is my latest inspiration – her color studies are a great way to look at plants and nature. I know so many great people in the factory – most of our staff are a great resource and inspiration – the combined knowledge of the group is astounding. Love doing the annual nursery hike with our group to learn about the natives and ooh and ahh about our finds.
Inspirational garden literature
“Plant Driven Design” (2008) by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Odgen. I’m reading “The Overstory” (2018) by Richard Powers right now, which really changes the mind. Any book that goes into the trees and plants that I love. (Note from Rhonda: I looked at this book and it looks fascinating – it won the Pulitzer 2019 for fiction.)
To learn more about Christie and her work with gardens and plants, check out this week’s Literary Gardener podcast at: https://mailtribune.com/podcasts/the-literary-gardener.
Rhonda Nowak is a gardener, teacher and writer from Rogue Valley. Email him at [email protected]