Pacific Northwest Flower & Garden Show (An Introduction)

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It’s been a few years but I’m back! Coming up here to Seattle from Portland has reminded me why I missed coming to the Pacific Northwest Flower & Garden Show so much. I guess it’d been so long I’d nearly forgotten. Sure I missed one heck of a snow storm, but it was worth it.
Here are a few highlights with more posts to come because I’m still really enjoying the show. I’m going to seminars, and after I hit “publish” I’m off to look at some books. (Later tonight I’ll return to the restaurant where I first learned how to eat with chopsticks as a teen—but that’s another post.)
The show in Seattle is just edgy enough to have a neon-style light in a log on the ground in the garden. I have no idea yet how much this would cost, but I want it.

There is glass here. This is Chihuly Territory after all and his work has inspired many to take up the craft and I’m eternally grateful for their work.

There is nothing more reminiscent to me of the PNW style than huge trees and rusty metal. This is a refined nod to the logging industry if ever I saw one and to the great resource which although now managed, is something that still inspires awe in all who experience it. That’s why each and every year the ancient woods are brought into the convention center. I’ve missed these homages.

Whimsy? Not always my thing but I burst out laughing when I saw this bat house. My former foster children would have loved this.

There is always something that appeals to the over-the-top Italian side of me. This garden display cured my wintertime blues and made me crave a glass of limoncello.

As someone who specialized in modernism as an art history student I understand it and its midcentury relative well. It’s not my style because I’m too wild and flamboyant to live in it, but I love seeing it and being in it when it’s in another’s home.

It’s calming to see the lines all “just right”.

Seeing the simplest joys and pleasures on display here make me tingle.

Then there is what I would do. Luckily I cannot afford a giant glass pavilion with an art orchid made of glass and metal in it. Was it my favorite display garden? Yes. The huge glass Sarracenia? Well what do you think? This was amazing to behold. It could be in a museum.

I should add that I come here for the hotel too—at least this time around. Let’s just say that my husband really likes to spoil himself with a nice hotel so this trip I actually have marble tile on my bathroom floor. Did the show spoil us rotten with a great discount at the Fairmont Olympic? Absolutely. Will I take high tea tomorrow with our extra discount? Definitely.

I think one of these is going home to the family house on the river. It only seems appropriate when you have salmon spawning behind your house.

Not something I’d put in my garden, but I would love to see these in lieu of other options in other gardens. Variety is good. I think they’re fun and I would love to slam that arrow on the front of my house so that people would walk around that way but it might be an overstatement. (I’m pretty sure there might be something more “subtle” I could do too.)

Miniature gardens are in the show as well. They aren’t for me, but my husband is now eager to make a few. I’m excited to see what he makes and I would love to have one. I just wouldn’t know where to begin. John has loved other types of miniatures for years so I know he’ll make something wonderful.

This is a stake you can add to a planter pot and I loved it. (Gotta have my bling.) We do live in a rainy region so we might as well celebrate it.

Yesterday I didn’t buy much but I came back to the hotel last night after a long day with a few free plants from a reception. I was grateful.

My husband John got to take a silly picture of me. That’s his takeaway from the event. (You can tell I’m amused.) I’m afraid this is a word that pops out of my mouth from time to time and he does tease me about it a lot. Again, I love the silliness.

Then there is ikebana too.

I miss making arrangements but I’ll be back at it again soon.

(More to come with A LOT more detail. I just wanted to post a few pictures.)

Terra firma in springtime…

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A Phalaenopsis orchid given to me as a gift last Christmas (2011) has finally re-bloomed.
Like the above orchid, I’m currently in the process of re-blooming too. It seriously took my being able to accept that I had to simply shut my own eyes, let go (trusting that I would be caught by something), and finally I allowed myself to fall backwards—yes, I guess back into my own life.
So what if I went to that moment kicking and screaming? I made it.
If I told you what happened next, well this wouldn’t be a garden blog any longer.
A lovely organic leek I sliced for fresh potato and leek soup on St. Patrick’s Day, 2013.

Cooking has again become popular around here and I’m happily creating and trying new things. I’m learning to make the basics, while appreciating the bountiful produce that’s appearing as the season changes.

Being gluten-free is easy most of the time, but then you find recipes such as the one for the cake seen below, and you just have to make a cake to share with your friends.

Though not a garden, or even a plant, I had to share my leprechaun trap cake with everyone. Although no leprechauns were hurt, we did attract some pixies. (See below.)

I wish this had been a gluten-free cake, but it wasn’t. I think that it turned out well except for my poor handling of the frosting. Someday soon I will master buttercream and this cake will look more like it’s covered in grass. (That’s why it’s here. I knew there was a reason! Grass!)

The pixies are French so they could have cared less about the rainbow and pot of gold. Note that one has a ladybug on its thigh and the other has what looks to be a snail. No, oops, I mean escargot.

Like other gardeners I am excited for spring and I am feeling very playful and happy again.

The vintage ceramic potatoes make for nice vases on St. Patrick’s Day too. 

I really miss ikebana classes a lot but due to the divorce I’ve had to cut such things from my life for now. In the meantime, I’m doing the best I can and it’s not so bad at all.

Vintage hanging ceramic indoor planter with an Aligator fern (Microsorum musifolium).

The fact that I’ll be moving sometime during the next few months has finally sunk in and I’m looking at my plants much differently now. Although I have not yet found a place to call home, I’m finally getting excited about it.

Epiphyllum grown from seed. I like to call this move “doing the Icarus”.

Someday soon, I hope to see many of my houseplants bloom—like this Epi cactus!

Well, stay tuned since it’s moving with me. I have no idea how many years it will take, but I will wait for it.

Green mums in a small vintage liquour glass inherited from my family.

These past few weeks I’ve quietly sat back a bit to think about my life, my garden, my plants, and who I am and who I want to be now. I started this blog when I was obviously a different person, living a different married life. It was full of chronic illness, unhappiness, and for a time, troubled foster children.

When things changed for me over a year ago, I was shown by many of my gardening friends that I belonged here.
I learned that lesson rather quickly, but I didn’t know how to start over. I have no shame in admitting I needed to find my own way. I’ve learned some incredible things about myself during the last two months. The serendipity I’ve experienced has given me a kind of hope.

My niece Chelsea glam’d me up for an event.

Yes, then there are the things you need to do for yourself. My marriage did not make me feel very beautiful at all. Let me tell you now, if you feel that way yourself, get out. It is the most important lesson I’ve learned. The people you surround yourself with should always help to make you feel like the beautiful person you are and sometimes that’s just not what happens.

My nieces helped me to really understand this recently and I’m proud of them. When you help to raise a child, and then they come over to spend hours making you look pretty—after you’ve not looked so great for nearly a decade—it does something to you. To say that my niece Chelsea made me look beautiful one Sunday to prove a point to me is an understatement. She’s been telling me for years she missed me, and that she wanted the world to see the woman she sees, and I have to say the kid’s got a great eye. I just wasn’t seeing it.
She proved her point, and as an aunt, it was the first time I’d sat back to be school’d by one of my nieces and it was so worth it.

Oh weird! Downtown Portland. I remember this place…

Trust me when I say that I’m not giving up gardening. I’m very much going to continue blogging too. I just need a little more time to adjust. There are many changes afoot.

There is direction too—and maybe even a plan (possibly a very detailed plan).

I’m over the shock and pain of having fallen blindly. I survived and I’ve planted my feel solidly on the ground. It’s new where I’m standing but I’m certain it’s terra firma. In characteristic Ann fashion I’m standing a bit uncomfortably in the middle of an empty field and I’ve covered my eyes with one hand while with the other I reach into my pocket for seeds.

I am throwing out the seeds. I am casting them blindly in every direction, and if you look closely, you’ll notice I’m coyly smiling. If you listen, across the distance, you’ll hear me laughing again. It’s not loud, but it’s happy at least.

So take that springtime! I’m ready for you this year.

Let’s get this party started.

Language in the Garden (How it’s Difficult to Make Ikebana Arrangements Right Now)

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I’ve been writing a lot recently but it hasn’t been here on my blog. So many words now fill up my time and space that I’m seeking out the garden more as I continue to pick up the pieces and move on with my life. Removing the weeds, editing the garden spaces, and tossing out plants that have not been successful has never felt so good, but I am finding it difficult to speak with flowers.

A Year of Ikebana is the blog I started last September just after my Grandma Virginia passed away. At the time my marriage was already being examined under a microscope and it was clear that something in that relationship had to change. As this blog had been so successful for me, I thought that actually trying to practice Ikebana on a daily basis—much as I used to exercise—could somehow calm me enough to get through whatever stormy waters I’d have to face in the coming months.

I wanted to feel beautiful again since that had been lost in my marriage and I wanted to make beautiful things. There was that need to build something as something else was falling apart around me. But I never had any idea how deeply those little arrangements would work their magic on me, and in time, I’ve sat in awe at the power the practice of Ikebana can have since it has the ability to transform something hidden inside of all of us.

Yes, it is said to be a therapeutic and spiritual practice. The life energy of the plants flow through you just as your emotions touch them. Sometimes you can speak through one another, and sometimes it just doesn’t click. It’s a marriage and a relationship that means a lot more to me than I’d ever thought it would and when I was confronted with the separation and then divorce from my soon-to-be ex-husband my arms became heavy.

They were so heavy when I went to think about Ikebana that I couldn’t lift them. My arms refused to move and my hands were conspirators. They are slowly coming back now though, but it’s been in jumps and starts. I’m seeing too how my arms need to be held and coaxed into the practice again, cherished in the way they always should have been I suppose since I use them, along with my hands, to speak. They’re part of this instrument called voice too.

The image above is a recent effort and I was deeply touched by it when it came together. A lot of what’s going on inside of me came out and I’m sad that my arms have become heavy again but tomorrow that might change.

Filoli (Woodside, CA): Part I, Arrangements, Doors & Gates

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Located in Woodside, CA the Filioli Estate was built between 1915-1917 by Willliam Bowers Bourn II and his wife Agnes Moody Bourn. The estate has a total of 654 acres, 16 of which are formal gardens.
Filoli was first on my list of gardens to visit during this trip to California.
Floral arrangement in Visitor’s Center.
In the newly constructed visitor center I was stuck by this massive floral arrangement and noted that the materials used were garden materials instead of stark and showy exotics so I was thrilled when I discovered that the arrangements throughout the interiors were made with flowers from the cutting garden on the estate.
When you enter the main house, you will see this orchid planter. It’s massive size does nothing to dwarf the beauty of its contents.
In another room nearby an arrangement is seen on a table with Delphinium and Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica) from the garden. As a matter of fact, all of the rooms in the house had amazing arrangements in them—though the ikebana-inspired piece was truly my least favorite since it really disappointed me.
Of coures there are a few houseplants too like this Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)—a classic for any dark interior.
A pair of Boston ferns (Nephrolenpis) on two of the largest plant stands I’ve ever seen.
Out back, past the larger formal gardens you’ll find the cutting garden. It’s in two parts with one being protected, while the other is out in the open.
Then there are the many garden doors and gateways at Filoli…

Hope you enjoyed the brief tour of these few pieces and parts.

Stay tuned for more…

Official Website: Filoli
Wikipedia: Filoli Estate