Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2015: Romance Blossoms (Day 2)

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IMG_3282I’ve lived through another day of complete and total exhaustion and yet here I am up late in the hotel room posting a blog post when I should be sleeping.

Earlier this morning I attended the annual Tweetup. During this brief event the lights are turned up over the display gardens at the show and the garden media is set loose to take some photos.

Since it’s so late, I won’t write a lot. I really only wanted to get these little show details out there. What do you think?

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Interesting way to use some more of those corks I’ve collected in my kitchen. (A Garden Built with Love/Adam Gorski Landscapes)

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(A Garden Built with Love/Adam Gorski Landscapes)

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(A Garden Built with Love/Adam Gorski Landscapes)

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Beautiful Hosta. I thought I wrote down the name but cannot find it now. (Will You? A Romantic Proposal in the Park/Fancy Plants Gardens, Inc.)

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(Love the Space You’re In/Susan Browne Landscape Design)

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(Love the Space You’re In/Susan Browne Landscape Design)

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Beautiful looking glass Sansevieria. (Love the Space You’re In/Susan Browne Landscape Design)

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Cute “dresses” for photo ops. (Picture Yourself on Azalea Way/Washington Park Arboretum)

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(Knotty and Nice…Here’s to We Time/Karen Stefonick Design)

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(Birds do it… Bees do it…/West Seattle Nursery)

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(Birds do it… Bees do it…/West Seattle Nursery)

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(Romantic Folly/ Pamela Richards Garden Design)

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I love my salmon. (Romantic Folly/ Pamela Richards Garden Design)

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Great container wall. (Romantic Folly/ Pamela Richards Garden Design)

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(A Moment to Remember/ Nature Perfect Landscape and Design)

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(Over the Moon/Assoc. of Professional Landscape Designers—WA Chapter)

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(Over the Moon/Assoc. of Professional Landscape Designers—WA Chapter)

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(The Root of True Romance: Beautiful Chaos… Love, Art, Nature/Elandan Gardens)

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(Three Phases of Love… Young, Passionate, Forever/ WA Association of Landscape Professionals)

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Hard to see from the picture, but it’s a bike. (A ‘Bio-Cycle’ Built for Two/ Evergreen Landscaping & Designs)

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Fountain designed by Douglas Walker. (The Romance of Steampunk/ Whitby Landcare and Design)

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The display gardens were too numerous to capture so I’m jumping to some retail now. At large garden shows such as this one you’ll find all kinds of things for the outdoor and indoor gardening lifestyles.

From vases such as the one on the left, to handmade glass work and other objects to ornament your garden with—there is something for everyone. (I’ve purchased from the booth on the right in the past (Bedrock Industries. Check under their tab: Gift & Garden).

I think I might just go back to purchase this number 12 for the front of the house tomorrow. Sure, it has something to do with football, but it’s also my house number!

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There are many rustic, recycled, and upcycled items too. Some are made by hand, and some are likely mass produced. No matter what, there is really something for everyone. IMG_0851

After the Tweetup I was exhausted but I met up with a landscaper friend to help him select a few plants for clients. This Trifoliate Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) was something we had to get. These are such great plants. IMG_3206

As I started to get drowsy I turned to go back to the hotel. Just walking back, through the displays, you’ll find the sweetest plants to admire. I very much want to get one of these Variegated Brugmansia.    
     IMG_3281 I’m also a sucker for a Geranium that’s become a standard. IMG_3284

More than anything though, I now have my heart set on an Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’.IMG_0854Walking back to the hotel I looked up at the Rainer Tower building across the street. From my room—for the past two year—I’ve admired this building. Yet, I only just discovered it was designed by U of W alum Minoru Yamasaki, and it just so happens that he’s also known for having been the lead architect of the World Trade Center.

Gardening is a wonderful thing, and design is all around us. Sure, I’m having a wonderful time in Seattle, but looking at this building brings along with it a somber feeling for those connected to his other work, a love of freedom in my country, and a sense of awe for what we’re able to design and build. I hope that in the years to come we’ll build again, and stop the destruction.

We garden to forget these things. I know. But with the building there outside my window as I sleep, it’s difficult for me not to think of its power.

And with that, it’s to bed, and I’ll be back at the garden show in the morning…

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2015: Romance Blossoms (Day 1)

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IMG_0737Tonight, with a full belly, I’m writing from Seattle where I’ve just returned (a few hours ago) from my first visit to this year’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show. The theme is ‘Romance Blossoms’, and overall, I think that it made for some really inspired ideas.

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My visit to the show today was shorter than I’d hoped because we’d left Portland a bit late. Our kitten escaped overnight and spent the night outdoors. I was terrified he’d be gone for days, but after briefly calling for him, he ran to me, and before we knew it, we were on the road to Seattle.

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Right now I’m just posting a few pictures of things I found interesting. I plan to follow up with some more in-depth information tomorrow.

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I think that it’s safe to say taxidermy has made it to the show this year.

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These pottery pieces really stood out to me as I hurried past them.

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Of course I immediately ran to see what a friend had put together for the show. You follow these things online and then of course you want to see how they turned out.

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Part of me feels like I’ve seen this painting before, but that’s beside the point. I really like it. Exterior paintings looking a bit like botanical billboards is a good idea—at least to me.

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Mirrors in gardens are great and I liked this folding screen design.

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Some gardens are just too pretty not to love. I could cuddle up here for hours with a good book.

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After attending a talk given by Lorene Edwards Forker I had to dash out to get back to the hotel. (We had dinner reservations.) Her talk about gardening with nature really highlighted the importance of pollinator-friendly gardening.

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This vendor also had gotten into the theme and I liked this lighted piece but I think I’d only have it with the word LOVE written all over it. Love must always guide the way.

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Returning to the Fairmont Olympic Hotel is always a bit dreamy for me. This is only my second stay here but the wonderful discount offered to show visitors is simply irresistible. We had such a great stay last year that we had to come back. Luckily, my husband really enjoys visiting Seattle too so we like coming up here together. (In full disclosure, he does not visit the garden show with me everyday.)

IMG_0794 IMG_0806After a little surprise dinner at Loulay we returned to the hotel again, admiring the huge floral arrangement, and now I’m left to dream about how delicious my semi-deconstructed dessert was…

See you back here tomorrow!

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.)

And I’d thought this gardener hadn’t been busy during December…

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Japanese White Pine in training since 1950. Country of Origin: Japan. Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection

I am still a gardener in search of a garden of sorts. Much uncertainty remains in 2013 but I don’t mind it at all anymore. Every single day is a huge opportunity for me now and my health continues to improve as do my spirits. Whenever I plant a seed something grows. So I’m tossing them everywhere right now and I’m sitting back to see what germinates.

I am a guerilla gardener of the heart.
This is my time
—to live a bit as a wildflower.
Finally.

Palm Leaf, Sabalites species, around 50 million years ago Chuckanut Formation, Whatcom Co. Washington. Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

A large part of this seed planting campaign of mine has involved seeing and speaking with very old friends of mine. Doing so really helps me to remember more of who I used to be and who I want to be again now. Illness broke me down but it didn’t kill me. I lost a lot of momentum but if you know me you also know that I can be a tiny force of nature when I am at my best.

My high school friend Elise Krohn, herbalist and native foods specialist. Wild Foods & Medicines Blog 

Recently I made a brief overnight trip to Seattle to see two of these old friends. I attended the book re-release party for a publication an old friend of mine had contributed to, and additionally I spent time in the other friend’s home getting to know her husband and small son. Since the three of us attended the same high school together it was an ĂĽber supportive trip. My sudden wellness after so many years brings them much happiness too and I like to be that in their lives right now. It helps my healing too. Dare I say that it helps us grow much stronger together.

I have grown a lot during the past two months and it will be showing more and more in the months to come.

Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Of course I had to stop by the library dedicated to nothing but horticulture at the University of Washington too. Luckily it wasn’t open long enough for me to go crazy making lists of things.

Center for Urban Horticulture
Seeing the Center for Urban Horticulture in winter was a beautiful treat too since I’ve only ever been there during the warmer months.

Sometime before Christmas I tidied up out front. I guess I was tired of the Doug fir debris in the house.

Oh and the seeds, the lovely, lovely piles I was unable to get to last year. They are very much on my mind now.

There were those dark and lonely moments too. So I took pictures to remember them by in the future. Then I quickly forgot about them.

Something about spending my first Christmas alone after a decade-long relationship was exhilarating and it allowed me to really toss out more emotional baggage. I can do this on my own now if I choose to and that feels really good to me. I don’t feel I was ever really given that choice.

I watched the fat cat sleep a lot. Maurice is old.

The neighbors had their old cherry tree cut down. That was exciting for a day.

Visions of children playing in gardens appeared to me on a walk. I love this city.

I started a wide scarf for myself using organic cotton yarn on one of my knitting looms. Most materials bother my skin a lot so it was fun to go to the yardage store to pick the yarn myself. I felt so empowered—for lack of a better word.

I watched the fat cat sleep a lot with his little buddy Mona too. December is when the part-ferral cat is not very ferrel. It is always a cute process to watch as she becomes needier and needier. Before you know it she’s wrapped up at your feet while you type a blog post at 1am.

Somehow I sewed a few Christmas tree ornaments. This one looks a bit like my interests of cooking and gardening slammed together. A green ravioli. I was clearly not thinking.
I also tried to rescue my old Christmas tree houseplant but it was neglected so much this past year I will need to nurse it back to the fine specimen it used to be so that wherever I am next Christmas it will be ready to shine again.

Luckily a friend gave me some forced Daffodil bulbs just before he went home to Scandinavia for the holidays. Normally I would have had a huge floral arrangement but times are tough and I was working solo on the annual Christmas Eve dinner so this worked out well. It was perfect and so much better than nothing. (It smells great too even if it makes me sneeze. Yes, those of us with allergies must choose our battles.)

Then there was that goose I stuffed and roasted. It was amazing and I was so proud I made it through the whole experience on my own.

I also made a really simple cabbage dish with apples and spices. It went perfectly with the sausage and cornbread stuffed goose. Overall the more simple the food the happier my body is when I eat it. I am still in awe of my ability to consume goat milk products in moderation.

I am such a lucky woman now.

Oh, and then there were those funny faces I made with my eldest niece Chelsea when I spent some quality time with her, her younger sister Lindsey, and their childhood friend Emily. How quickly my little women have grown up!

I am still making faces apparently today too. Not sure what this expression is about but I think it has something to do with my hair being in pigtails. At what age are pigtails inappropriate on a woman? I have no clue. Maybe I don’t want to know. Believe it or not but I was actually thinking about how the wear my hair when I get back out there in the dirt soon. It’s growing and I am so happy to have it long again.

See, I do think about a lot of other things.

December was one hell of a month but I tossed out so many seeds in so many places—here, there, everywhere. I’m surrounded by good fertile opportunities and I’m really excited about so many new things happening in my life. Best of all, the soil in my heart no longer feels so barren. I am happily growing again and am feeling more at peace than I have in many years.

This gardener had a beautiful Christmas and I hope you did too! 
Here’s to watching it all grow again in 2013! 
 
Let’s bring back our heirlooms, the all-time favorites and producers,
 but let’s not forget we should always be open to the new stuff too. 
 
Like maybe this blogger might finally release another book. 
Booyeah!

"Go Seed Hunting!" said that little voice inside of me…

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Just over a year ago, it was at this place (and nearly to the moment), when I knew my life was going to change in a big way. It was as if there was such beauty during that precise moment, in that place and time, that something opened up deep inside of me and I heard that little voice screeching loud and clear as it went in for the kill.

The Bloedel Reserve.
I see now that for many of us—especially for those who design landscapes and even our own gardens—these are the sacred moments we want to experience. We live and breathe to hear these little things inside of ourselves, to feel out gut instincts. We use them to help guide us forward whether we’re ready to go or not.
Two Deer Ferns (Blechnum spicant) at The Blodel Reserve in Washington.

I want my next garden to have soul and at this point I will stop at nothing less. But until then, there is still a lot yet to do in my current situation.

This is a Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) woven pillow by artist Sue Skelly that was for sale at The Blodel Reserve gift shop last summer.

Some of these photos here are ones that I’ve not yet posted. Then again, maybe I have but I just don’t remember. I have a lot that was swept up into my iPhoto box during the past year. I hope to finally start to break these out now. Let’s all just pretend and ignore that they’re so “last season”.

Acapulco Salmon & Pink Hyssop (Agastache) at Dragonfly Farms Nursery. 
Fantastic garden structure at Dragonfly Farms Nursery.

There will be more and more of these in the coming weeks and I will try my best to recall what was going on at the time. A lot changed for me though at the Garden Bloggers Fling up in Seattle last summer and I regret not having posted many posts but I was going numb in preparation for the marital amputation.

That’s something which has become clear now, and there’s no turning back…

Random chance encounter I found between a plant and some pavement while walking home from the grocery store not long ago.

Then there are those beautiful moments I’m having now,

My precious Hollyhock (Alcea) grown from seed from seeds purchased at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, CA.

as I mix them in with my past,

I love the color of Alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) almost as much as I love their taste.

and I remember the simple pleasures too.

Coastal Goldenrod (Solidago simplex ssp. simplex var. spathulata).

Recently I began to think about my precious seeds, and the seed hunting, and the plant IDing.

This summer I’ve not yet had a road trip to look for seeds. Planning one for later has been in the back of my mind, on that perpetual back burner with the pile of other things, back behind all of the practical things I need to do right now—or else I should have done months ago.

The lovely annual Alternanthera.

This week I will begin collecting some seeds around here at home. I’m working again too on adding items to my Etsy store and am thinking about what kind of job will potentially work for me—though deep down I just want to play with plants and write. This should probably come as no big surprise to anyone who knows me! I have some options now though and am working on scenarios that will help me to live with the dignity I’d like as someone with a chronic illness.

“Somewhere” in Mendocino County, CA.

So I’m mentally ready to prepare for such a journey back out into the woods and wherever else I land and I hope to hit the road this October. These trips are fun for me to plan.

Yes there is the ocean to see too as I go into California, but there are also friends in San Francisco, Los Angeles (I’ve not yet seen Lotusland) and (fingers crossed) the Garden Writers Association Annual Symposium in Tucson, AZ. (Come to think of it, I’ve never been to one of those either.) The drive home from there could be all new to me and that would be nice to venture more into the Rockies a bit.
Something says to me that arriving in Tucson by car might be just what I need.
And somewhere out in the desert I hope to hear from somewhere deep inside of myself, “Thank you for listening. Thank you.”

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part Two, The Cactus House

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Unfortunately I was unable to document all of the plants here, and there is a bit of a reason that I must fess up to right now. Due to my complete and total love for so many of these plants as houseplants, I did overload the capacity my home has for their maintenance and upkeep this past year. Let’s face it, there are only so many plants that can stand in the light, and I cannot care for them all—not yet at least.

Believe it or not, this Jade Tree was started from a large cutting back in 1916. Wow.

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part One, The Seasonal Display House

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There is no denying that I had a wonderful time this past week up in Seattle. I could go on and on about all the reasons it was so wonderful, but I’d rather now right now. As wonderful as the whole experience was, it was not the kind of vacation that allowed me to rest and I am seriously paying heavily for that right now with my health. If it hadn’t been the fling, it would have been something else, so I am not complaining.
I did the drive back to Portland solo and this allowed me to see some other gardens before I left town. This may seem like a strange idea, but in this case, I’d planned to visit places I usually frequent. I just didn’t want to visit them with anyone who was paying attention to time.
The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a favorite place of mine to visit. Like the other two historic Victorian glasshouses open to the public on the West Coast, no matter what time of year you’re there visiting, it is always amazing. First considered in 1893, the main building was not completed until 1912. Inside there are five main houses: Bromelaid, Palm, Fern, Seasonal Display and Cactus. I am doing each separately so you can see all the pretty pictures.

The first house you actually enter into from the front door is the Palm House. This is a beautiful view from the Seasonal Display House looking back at it. During this trip I kind of rushed into this room first because a seniors group of Japanese-Americans came in for a walk and I wanted to be sure to give them enough space to get around me.

This house had a lot of annuals mixed in with sturdy perennials. The foundation plantings really consist of this large Yucca and a Sansevieria Collection.

The Yucca gigante is very impressive and while the group of senior citizens walked through the room one of the women remarked to a nurse, “Wow, that’s really old. Old like us!” The younger woman could then be heard giggling as the group walked off together. I thought it was kind of funny too.

Low at the bottom you can see a really nice Sansevieria with a lot of white stripes. I guess it’s a Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’. Time to put that on my fall/winter plant shopping list.

 
It’s an understatement to say that these groupings are impressive. They are overwhelmingly breathtaking and I felt honored to spend some quiet time with them as though we were attending plant church together.

So before I overwhelm you, I will leave you a taste for what beacons as you reach the Cactus House.

Awe! Those menacingly attractive little guys look a lot like buddies to me. Don’t you think so too?

Volunteer Park Conservatory