Zick's Great Outdoors!

Today I continue my series on St. Louis area nursery visits, with a look at a place that is unlike any other around here: Zick's Great Outdoors. This was only my second visit ever to Zick's with the first being at least five years ago. I'm not sure how we ever found this place back then, but I think it was from an interesting and creative ad in a local paper.



Whereas the other nurseries that I've visited before were either close to my house (Wiethop, Sherwoods, Greenscape) or a bit to the east (Sugar Creek), Zick's is out west in Wildwood. Remember when I visited Rockwoods Reservation earlier this year? That's in Wildwood too -- it really is quite "wild" out there. So do you want to see why I added an exclamation point to the title of this post? Keep reading...

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At first glance Zick's appears to be a normal nursery:



But then you start looking around a bit...


...and realize that you've actually driven much farther west than you remember, to California or maybe Portland, because Zick does things differently. Take his veggies for instance...


Most places put the 'Big Boy' or 'Cherokee Purple' tomatoes out in front, but not Zick...


...who is featuring a Bulgarian hybrid. Nice!

Have a flatbed trailer that you don't use any longer? 


Just park it and use it as a display table!

Zick's has been around for 35 years, and "reuse" (of "reduce, reuse, recycle") appears to have been practiced from day one:


It's what makes this place so special! 

There was an article about it (please read it -- quite interesting)...


...posted next to the map:


For a small place, the map is probably used quite a bit (by staff telling people where to look for specific plants I'd think).

The map is posted next to the bridge, which wasn't quite as sturdy as I would have liked:


It had sort of a rope bridge feel to it although it is constructed of wood. Sort of swingy.

The creek bed is dry right now, but the Yellow Groove bamboo on its bank appears to be happy (although not nearly as big as I'd expect it to be):


Across this bridge though is where things start to get interesting:




You've only gotten a small taste so far, but it's like a mix of the City Museum, a mature display garden, an abandoned farm, and a nursery -- all in equal parts. There are certainly some plants, shrubs, and trees available for purchase...


...but there's a reason that "nursery" is not in the name I think. This is one man's garden playground first and foremost. I love it! 






This espalier apple tree is 25+ years old!

It was tricky getting past this sprinkler -- you had to time it just right:


There were more tables of perennials past the sprinkler...


...but more impressively a building being eaten by wisteria:



Take any ramshackle building or structure and grow some vines on it and it somehow looks just fine -- perfect even.

It really does feel like we're in an old farmhouse garden now...


...except for the ubiquitous Knock-Out roses:


Nice vignettes almost everywhere:



I wonder if this is a glimpse into the future of my own garden? Rusted metal and creativity spilled everywhere!


Apparently they grew a lot of gourds recently...



So beautiful en masse!

This is the back side of the wisteria-covered structure:


I'm not sure if you're allowed to go in there, but I don't know that I would anyway. Very dark and spooky!

No reason to go in since there's plenty to see outdoors still, with interesting doors...


...leading to unexciting hardscape areas:


Up at "the top" there were more plants...


...including some specimens...


...grasses...

...and trees:


When was the last time you saw trees available in bushel baskets?

By the way, I referred to this area as "the top". This is how I knew where I was:


Up here was something that really said "West Coast" to me...



...their old delivery truck!

Making our way back down again...


Looking down into the creek bed, this area was off limits I believe (if anything here is actually off limits)...


...this is where more shade perennials were displayed:


Metal work is everywhere:




Back across the bridge at the parking area...


...this may have been another off-limits area:


Those steps lead down to the creek where the hoop house is (from a few photos back). Bamboo fencing and fantastic metal posts -- I'd love to have one of those in my garden!

The checkout area contained some supplies and a few plants (and was unmanned this early on Sunday morning), but the antlers over the door were a nice touch...


...even though we don't have any animals that grow antlers of that sort in Missouri I think.



So that's Zick's Great Outdoors. Wonderful! Plant selection is somewhat limited especially if you're looking for something specific. There are a few native plants but not the selection that most of the other local nurseries have. Prices are a bit high, but not outrageous. It is by far the most interesting nursery around though, and worth a visit for inspiration alone.


This is very much like Bella Madrona in the Portland area but on a smaller scale.

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outlawgardener  – (May 5, 2015 at 9:12 AM)  

I can see why you like this place! This folk art/Berkley sort of garden is so exciting to visit as there's a surprise around every corner. Trees in bushel baskets were so cool. Love the glass mosaic in your final picture where the earth is both planet and flower. The rusty metal columned pergola is to die for! Thanks for an inspirational and exciting start to my day!

Mark and Gaz  – (May 5, 2015 at 11:36 AM)  

What a fun looking place! Reminded me of Bella Madrona!

Emily Khan  – (May 5, 2015 at 12:25 PM)  

I like the "This is this" sign--that's useful information when you're looking at itty-bitties in a pot.

Alan  – (May 5, 2015 at 5:20 PM)  

Peter: I loved the pergola columns too!

Mark/Gaz: exactly, but on a smaller scale!

Emily: Why doesn't every nursery have mature specimens of everything they grow? ;) It is really helpful in many cases!

danger garden  – (May 6, 2015 at 12:14 AM)  

"This is this" caught my eye as well, what a great way to sell plants! It's nice to know wonderful places like this exist "everywhere," or at least near you.

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