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.)

To Chelsea on Her 21st Birthday

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Chelsea is my eldest niece and she loves nature.
Me, well, I love this kid—and the other two girls too.
Before I had a garden to help me bury the pains caused by a rare illness, I found a lot of happiness and joy in these three beautiful creatures.
These 3 are a creative triple threat, but most of the time, they just “are”.
We’ve seen many of the wonders of the Pacific Northwest together, and as a child, she and her younger sister Lindsey and their best friend Emily went all over the place with me—looking at plants, and other stuff.
You know, just normal nature stuff like this.
If I never have a child, it’s ok since I’ve always had Chelsea.
And she likes to think she’s my only child.
 And when I see pictures like this I know we are related to one another.
 We’ve always got Emily too.
 Chelsea has taken our relationship quite seriously for many years.
 Sometimes, she reminds me a lot of my dad.
I guess that’s where our quirks originated.
My brother (her dad) is pretty goofy too.
 She likes animation. I used to watch a lot of it with her. I guess I taught her to value certain things in life too.
 I think she’s a bit more colorful than I am at times, but that’s not an issue. She is her own garden.
At heart she loves animals and nature.
When I graduated from college I was so proud she was there to see me succeed.
My friend Brendan, the guy with his eyes shut, well he later acted as college art instructor to the young woman who became Chelsea’s high school art instructor.
I am happy she grew up around art. I sure wish I had! Although I wish Chelsea was making more art right now. She is a very talented artist.
She grew up around plants too and this image is from a Seattle trip to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. (Sorry about the quality of this photo. It was rescued.)
Here first tattoo was of the much more common orange California poppy.
Taking the girls on road trips to CA was a great deal of fun for me.
And here we have Emily and Chelsea again. They were helping me to load pavers into the wagon after a friend our family had passed away. We wanted to use the pavers in my garden.
So often when I see the beauty in the small details of flowers I think of Chelsea. She sees even more beauty in the world than I. Too often my brain and words get in my way.

As girls, both Chelsea and her sister Lindsey liked to be a bit different.

Of course I encouraged this kind of thing.

When I worked at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House it was wonderful to see them all during visits. They were just kids and they enjoyed the house and absorbed its design.
I am not so sure they liked his Marin County building as much, but they saw it.
Chelsea loves her little sister Lindsey and I think this is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken of her.
Emily is a bird of a different feather. That’s why we love her so much.
Like any aunt I prefer to think of them like this—tiptoeing through the tulips.
Of course Chelsea had to shock us all a bit—especially her little sister.

Not having had sisters it was a blessing to watch these little women grow.

They opened up a whole new world to me and I needed it.

Chelsea will always be “so metal” when she rakes.
She will always be a garden design sceptic.
Happy Birthday Chelsea.
Happy Birthday.

Happy. Happy.
Birthday.

Someday all three of you will be gardeners and I know it. It is in your blood on both sides. So get out there and keep doing what you do until you land and dig deeper to set down your own roots. Whatever you do, it will be beautiful like you.

Garden Blogs Flinging Themselves upon Seattle! (Pre-Fling Prep Course: Kubota Garden)

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Grrrrrrr. I’m an anatomically incorrect stuffed eel toy and I’m about to take Seattle! I’m a lean, mean, green, garden stalking machine.

The Amateur Bot-ann-ist has never been a flinger, but I’m flinging this year to give it a shot. I’m almost always open to new garden viewing opportunities, especially when my cohorts are not kids groaning in the backseat. Garden Bloggers Fling 2011 (Seattle).

My husband needed a break from California so he came with me. After our arrival, I tagged along while he accomplished some work. There is a tasting planned for this Saturday so first we dropped off several cases of wine at the Fremont Wine Warehouse. Then we jumped back on the freeway and headed back to another shop. I marveled at the greenery both times we passed through downtown. Due to our wet and mild summer it is looking even better than usual.

While he was pouring samples at another shop in West Seattle I sat in the car and played with my new camera. It’s a Canon PowerShot SX30 IS and I think I’m in love. Seriously.

While I was in the car I realized that on our way back into the city we could revisit a garden that I’d only seen once during a winter trip to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Kubota Garden.
We bloggers will be visiting the Bloedel Reserve on Monday so the least I could do was revisit the garden left behind by Fujitaro Kubota. He was a Japanese immigrant from the island Shikoku, a self-taught gardener, and a man who became a keystone to what is called the Northwest Garden Style. He also designed the Japanese garden at the Bloedel Reserve.
An island of Bergenia cordifolia.

After having seen the Kubota Garden during the winter, I have to admit that today it felt like an entirely different place.

Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo.’

This Japanese maple, known in Japanese as the “Floating Cloud Tree” took my breath away.

The green canvases he painted with a textural brush are so calming and peaceful.

As you walk through the scenes, experiencing the layers, it feels cleansing and refreshing.

There are nooks and paths that lead to views.

You may even find a place to rest in the small forest. It was planned and planted in such a way as to make the space seem larger and longer. This is very pleasing to the eye.

There are two red bridges. One bridge is lower and wider.

Red berried of a Vaccinium parvifolium.

There were native red huckleberries.

The other bridge is higher and is more of a Moon bridge.

As we left the garden we both noticed the construction that we’d seen several years ago was now complete and that they’d added a new wall and passageway into the garden. The contemporary construction includes “tiles” made of rusted metal rectangles which truly enhance the garden with their weathering. Additionally, the concrete blocks reminded me a great deal of the Gordon House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, where I used to work. Do you like the wall finished or unfinished? I love either, but I think that the raw and unfinished wall could look a lot worse. It truly is kind of interesting.

I’ve not yet met any of the other garden bloggers, but I certainly feel as though I’ve arrived. I look forward also to deeper contemplation of the Northwest Garden Style that means so much to me. Cheers to you Seattle!

Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’

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Back at the Northwest Home and Garden Show we saw a plant in an ikebana display we had never seen before. It immediately attracted both my husband and I because we love green “blooms”. As we neared, I could see that the stem looked a lot like a Dianthus, and it was one, but not one we had ever heard of: Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’.
It is only available to the floral trade but I imagine someday it will be made available to the home gardener. Like other green “blooms” it really is just a bloom without its petals. Instead, it simply has a lovely mass of sepals.

After we saw it at the show, it started to show up everywhere I looked! I know that means that it must be a popular and trendy plant, and I am sure that it is because a search of its name brings up all varieties of inquiries online.

You have all probably had these moments. You see a plant you have never seen before, and then you begin to see it everywhere. I don’t mind its popularity, because I think it is pretty special too. Don’t you?

Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’ in the newest Anthropologie catalog.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show (2011) Part Three

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We made it home despite the Arctic blast and saw lots of snow along the roadside. Immediately we ran as many outdoor plants as possible into the studio to protect them from the cold air. All my new treasures are hidden or else under lights in the basement. I cannot wait until next week when I can plant some of the new stuff that is dormant. I bought some incredibly rare plants so that I can collect their seeds. (Oh, and while we were gone, the last 100 or so packets of seeds arrived.)
The cats are happy, the weekend foster kiddos are getting along ok, and now it is back to the garden show. (I will show you the treasures after the kiddos go home on Sunday night. I don’t want them poking their eyes out with my new metal garden pieces and plants.)
Here are some more amazing pictures from the really great container garden area of the current Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
Carnivorousness at its best.
Naturalistic plantings with every nook and cranny planted.
I loved this water feature.
Potting bench.
Potting shed.
Gorgeous!
Garden bed. Flower bed.
Sweetest dreams.
Too funny!
I noticed this just before I walked off. It made me giggle.
I really want to make some cement/concrete pieces myself this year.
This was a really cozy setting.
This is a really cute idea.
Two of the container garden displays had beverages on display too for the gardener’s pleasure. My husband the winemaker completely agrees.
It’s another planter gutter.
Air plants on furniture—with Puget Sound out in the distance and Pike St Market.
Air plants on plant.

I think that I only have a little bit left about the amazing seminars so more tomorrow.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show (2011) Part Two

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We spent all day at the show again today and we arrived back at the hotel late. After some dinner, a bit of correspondence, and some rest, I am posting the next batch of images with some comments. I have at least two more posts to write about the show, and I am currently ruminating over some really great information we heard today during the three seminars we attended that featured some great speakers! (One of them is an avid garden blogger!!!)
NW Orchid Society display.
NW Orchid Society display.
Great way to make an instant maze or play area for kids. I had never thought of using this material in this way before but I think it might be fun to use this summer. It is basically a stuffed permeable landscape material.
Insect art in the garden is more than fitting and it points to the ongoing ridiculousness that we even ornament our gardens at all in the first place.
So often animal ornamentation can seem too bold, but I really loved these subtle insertions.
What struck me about this fountain was the amount of noise that it made. I want a water feature in our small garden very much and the echo of the water splashing underneath was remarkable.
This picture is only here to remind me that my green dwarf mondo grass will grow in eventually. It will be worth the wait.
Note to self: Mix up the stone a bit.
Cannot remember the name of this Narcissus, but I want to say that is is Rip van Winkle.
Note to others: Green walls are everywhere.
Note to others: This garden decor is approved by my husband, especially if attached to our Douglas fir tree, but the cool crab made out of a flat rock and rusted metal is not.
Note to others: See above. This is husband approved for the porch.

Container Garden Exhibition

These smaller displays are always a crowd favorite. I was so excited to see them this year and I was not disappointed. I am just so sorry that I don’t have the names of everyone involved.

Weathered metal and green walls are all the rage. Note that the pillow on the chair has air plants as extra fringe. There is also a mossy top on the planter on the right. Moss was seen all over the place!
This nursery really took the container theme seriously and the edge of their space was planted too.
I am such a turtle lover I got up close to see the detail. I am not sure that my turtle would want this in her garden. Including it in the display was kind of gutsy even if it is just cast concrete. Then again, if antlers are cool, why not…
Note the blue wall pocket for your green wall. Green walls were everywhere.
Planted gutter.
The sweater wrap is a fun craft I discovered on etsy. Wrap any old vase with an old sweater and it looks kind of cute.  On a planter, it is kind of cute too.
I have a planter at home that looks just like this so of course I liked it.
Very cool nautical display with succulents.

Again, there will be more tomorrow and posts everyday until Sunday. We return home to Portland in the morning, but I have a lot to say about those amazing seminars.

If you can make it in for the rest of the show, I highly recommend it. If not, maybe I’ll see you next month in San Francisco! Until then, happy garden planning!

Northwest Flower & Garden Show (2011) Part One

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This year’s theme was “Once Upon A Time…” so you can imagine the variety of display gardens created with some fairytale flair. As a child raised in a home that lacked much interest in children’s stories, it was wonderful to see and it gave me so many ideas of ways I could enrich the lives of the kids we care for—even if it is only part-time. (In face, before we drove up to Seattle I had my friend A. save many of the long Douglas fir branches he cut down for us so that I can make a teepee this summer. That will become the outdoor TV room.)

Green walls are very popular so this is only one of many in the posts to come…

Repunzel-themed green wall picture by the Flower Growers of Puget Sound. 

I didn’t really get the story aspect of this display, but there was a man carving and explaining the history of the business so that is also a version of storytelling and the story of the garden. Sometime this summer I hope to visit this nursery.

Elandan Gardens ltd. Display Garden 
Mossy top to a bonsai planting in the Elandan Gardens ltd. Display Garden.

I have to admit that I am not the best when it comes to orchid care, yet I am fascinated by them and I continue to buy them from time to time. This little one is one of many unusual types highlighted in the show this year. I may go back to seek on out tomorrow since it will be our last day at the show.

Dendrobium linguiforme, NW Orchid Society Display.

This is the Pacific Northwest and there is no greater local myth than that of Bigfoot so there was a garden for him too.

Bigfoot—aka Sasquatch—Kinssies Landscaping Display.

Of course Alice in Wonderland had to be included too. This garden included a live rabbit that seemed terribly sad. I felt sorry for it.

Alice in Wonderland themed garden.

There was also this garden below. The pine has the word “wolf” in it so can you guess the story?

This was a garden with a Three Little Pigs theme. Seeing a cleaver cracked up both up.
There were a few other gardens with more adult stories focused on life and relaxation. They typically included strong design ideas with classic garden comforts.

This design showed a way I could solve a design problem I have been having with the insertion of a gate in a way that I feel comfortable with and the husband liked it too.

This was a garden of memories past for many of us. It was a great scene to experience and my mind’s eye was a bit weepy with memories wandering from my mentor Mr Palm to one of my old Sicilian cousins who liked to nap during the summer on his lath covered patio on a cot under his fuchsia baskets.

Christianson’s Nursery. 

This was part of a very interesting display. It referred more to the interior of Washington State.

Suzy Dingle Landscape Creations.

It felt a lot like metro progressive greeniacs were not so in vogue as they were last year. This was a curious change of events that I didn’t really mind.

Creative Gardener display gardener. It is the “new” container garden.

I do not get out to Vashon Island as often as I would like to, but when I do, I drop by this nursery. It is an amazing place with amazing design ideas. You have probably seen them in gardening magazines.

DIG Floral and Garden booth.

This is some great stuff. I think I know what I plan to make when I get home!!! This is an amazing Seattle area garden boutique and they always have something new and different to offer.

Ravenna Gardens Booth.

More tomorrow!!!