DIG Floral & Garden (Vashon Island, WA)

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A few weeks back I promised pictures of DIG Floral & Garden out on Vashon Island and I have failed to provide those up until now. I am sorry for the cursory visit, but my ongoing hand injury recovery has really slowed me down.

Lobelia tupa.
Happiest dog I’ve seen all summer.
I have seen tons of blown glass balls and baubles galore at other places but this arrangement is just right.
If you’re going to put a large round object in your garden make sure it’s big and heavy.
A few years ago these gabions inspired my husband to make his own at the family vineyard in California. His is much smaller but he loved that he could use rocks he’d been digging up in the vineyard to fill it up. (Note too the metal “picture” frames. They are actually recycled metal grates.)
I think this is safely described as a bit surreal. The dissimilar objects remind me much of Lautreamont’s famous quote concerning the beauty of a chance encounter between very different objects. Sometimes the odd couple pairings really do work!
If my mother-in-law enjoyed gardening, I would have to buy her one of these little handsome devils.
I have seen simple tiered planters before but admittedly I’ve never really liked them. This one is completely different though because the pottery appears to have morphed its shape. It seems more alive somehow.
I have a sedum filled birdbath too so I am a bit partial to this one.
Chuckle.
Smile.
Possibly a Tweedia.
Fuchsia ‘Chang’.
More glass balls and this color pathway is maybe a bit less jarring.
Surprising combination.
These are aluminum banded planters that can be used many different ways.
Their take on the Mediterranean theme meshes far better with my relaxed and not-so-technical side. It isn’t Anglophilic or part of the Tuscanization of America. It find that refreshing.
Now I want a totally new garden and it will have a special name inspired by this scene: Glaucous. I would even get my husband a well-trained Glaucous Macaw and train it to act like Kermit the Frog. The silliness of the idea makes it seem plausible.
De nada!
Just in case anyone cares, that’s a Beschorneria ‘Ding Dong’ blooming in the terracotta pot. (If you’re reading this, I got that name just for you.)
This white chicken should stand beside my red wheelbarrow. I need some white concrete chickens right? That’s not a want, but a need. Clearly.
The white glass baubles were also a nice touch. I still can’t decide which colors I liked most though so that’s why you get to see them all.
Nothing makes me happier than an Asparagus fern in a serene formal planter. It floods me with memories of the Alcazar in Seville.
This is meant to remind myself and others that if you have a Staghorn fern living unhappily in a small plastic planter, set it free!
Begonia maculata var. wightii.

The DIG tour had to be quick because we had a ferry to catch. Two of our regular foster respite kids were waiting back in Portland for us so we had to dash off the island. That morning, the ferry had looked so mysterious and moody in the fog, but by the time we’d packed up, and arrived at the nursery, things were looking much better.

As we waited for the ferry, I sat and watched the Madrone trees.

Madrone, Arbutus menziesii.

The Country Store and Gardens and Beall Greenhouses on Vashon Island, Washingtion

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Due to my island lallygagging on Thursday we were only able to make it to two plant places on Vashon Island before we had to go sit in line to await our ferry to West Seattle. This was fine with me though because I was happily on island time.
Before leaving for Vashon, a gardening friend of mine in Portland let me know she wanted a plant from Colvos Creek Nursery and that I could find it at The Country Store and Gardens so that was a priority for us to pick up for her. (FYI: It was a Garrya elliptica and it is perfect.)
I was surprised that I’d never been to The Country Store and Gardens before, but back when I used to visit frequently, I was only a teen and not yet a gardener. For years I wanted to be a writer and back then I was studying and reading much more than I do now.

The Colvos Creek Nursery sales area is located right next to the parking area. It is stocked regularly and if you call ahead, they can make sure to have what you are looking for from their catalog available to purchase at this retail site. It is the only place on the island where you can purchase their plants. (If you have not seen their catalog, I highly suggest you click the link at the end of this post. It is like the Christmas toy catalog for plant nerds.)

Additionally, The Country Store and Gardens has its own rambling nursery and plant area, but it is not for those who like everything to be glossy, pretty and organized. For some, like myself, it might bring back memories of their childhood and some may want to linger all afternoon. It is a nursery, but it reminds me more of what I like to call now: Plant Labor-itories. There are tons of rectangular beds with some plants planted, while others are in pots. You could dig through them for ages and ages and you’d feel like some kind of plant explorer discovering something very special and new.
My mentor Mr Palm had a huge garden that looked a lot like this and it made me so happy to see one again.
Someone planted a lot of very special plants that were seriously enjoyable to find here and there.
Ulmus x hollandica ‘Jacqueline Hillier’.
Tree Mallow, Lavatera maritima.
Tree Mallow, Lavatera maritima. 
Not sure which plant this one is but it was so pretty planted beside some grape vines.  
Double pink Anemone.
Double pink Anemone.

Inside The Country Store, if felt like stepping back a bit in time, but not completely. In a way, it felt appropriate to the location since Vashon really was rural not too long ago.

Seed racks in the store.  
Gardening tools on display.
In my last post I promised you overgrown and abandoned greenhouses, and I wasn’t kidding. These have looked like this ever since I started enjoying the island, but I wasn’t truly struck by them until I learned more about the history of the Beall Greenhouses.

At the end of this post you will find a link to a page I found online so I won’t tell you everything, but this facility once housed not only one of the largest rose producers in the country, but it also supplied folks all over the world with orchids.

This is what the 25 acre growing facility looks like today.

It is difficult to imagine this is where rare orchids from England were shipped to for safekeeping during World War II, but they did live here for a spell.

We had to dash off to catch the ferry, so DIG Floral & Garden had to wait until the next day, but I was happy because I knew that if we had to drop off some sample wines before my husband’s pouring that evening in Capitol Hill, I would be rewarded in Seattle with some more plant shopping. While waiting for the ferry, I saw this sign, and although it made me sad, I loved the typography with the many different languages of our diverse West Coast. It amazes me sometimes and it makes me sad that I no longer teach ESL to immigrants and refugees.

While my husband went off to grab some food, I watched as this African father and his daughter learned about kayaks from a man who’d driven his down to the dock behind a riding lawnmower. The kayaker noticed their curiosity immediately and I stood nearby them as he showed them how the whole operation worked. I learned that the pair had just come over to the island for the day and were planning on taking the bus around before returning to Seattle. For five minutes the kayaker gave them the complete tour and answered all of their questions. He then invited them down to the water to show them how to get into a kayak and we all watched him as he paddled away.

Just then someone’s car radio blasted old 1990s Nirvana music and the moment broke apart a bit in my mind. My husband ran back to our car with some Mexican takeout and we drove onto the ferry.

The Country Store and Gardens Vashon Island, WA
Colvos Creek Nursery and Landscape Design Vashon Island, WA
Beall Greenhouses Vashon Island, WA

Vashon Island, Washingtion

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My first visit to Vashon Island occurred when I was in high school. One of my friends at that time had family here and we were often invited up to visit her when she was visiting them. After I purchased my first car, I drove her up and dropped her off. That was my first solo road trip, and as anyone who knows me now knows, it was the beginning of my long love affair with road trips. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have returned for a quick visit. This island is the first place I ever felt freedom as a young woman and that still means a lot to me.
It might be hard to see, but the name of this Washington State Ferry is Rhododendron.

I wasn’t sure what to write about Vashon Island, since there is simply so much to say, but I had to start somewhere so here we are on the water!

There are four ferries to the island. One leaves from Tacoma and takes you to the south end of the island while the other three leave from the north and can take you to West Seattle, Southworth or downtown Seattle. The ferry to downtown Seattle is a passenger-only ferry and we utilized it a lot when I was younger.

Nowadays I stay with another friend from high school and it’s at her in-law’s vacation home. Lucky for us, the drive from the ferry is a quick one so I had my feet up resting in no time.

We had to drive to the north end of the island to gather some dinner items and as soon as we returned, the chef was hard at work. Our hostess did an amazing job of making everything pleasant for us and the evening could not have been better!

My friend’s mother-in-law is great with interior design and it is fun to see her love of nature and plant-life. This charming marigold print is a new favorite of mine. Surrounded by the grey-blue of Puget Sound and the sky it compliments the environment well.

Outside on the deck, a lonely Aloe awaits us. It is such a great touch and it is almost starfish-like. (Yes, you can lean over the deck sometimes and look directly at starfish and other creatures. It is really dreamy that way.)

Like all vacation homes, the house has plenty of hens and chicks—and these are beautifully arranged.

There is a mixed succulent dish too.

When you first arrive at the house, after a long walk down several flights of stairs, this is what greets you  beside the front door. It is nice to enter a house smiling and I think the homeowner has nailed that requirement.

Nearby, you will find other garden and patio decor. And although this is a catfish, I’d like to imagine it to be a sturgeon.

This morning I awoke early, excited for the day ahead, with plenty of plant shopping on my mind, and I watched the fishermen and the wildlife. I grew up on a creek and I often saw herons all of the time, but living in the city now, I honestly miss them. They are really beautiful birds.

Nearby on the back deck there is also this lovely piece. I am guessing this was purchased, but it could easily be handmade by anyone with enough time to collect the driftwood.

I was also able to see some amazing watercraft this morning too other than the plain ole salmon boats with their screeching outboard motors and huge almost ridiculously over sized nets that are honestly necessary to land big salmon.

Sorry this is only setting the scene, and I haven’t truly dug my teeth into any REAL garden material, but trust me, I will. (Have you ever seen abandoned overgrown orchid greenhouse? Oh, you will!)