I'd be hard-pressed to decide which is the stronger draw for me - the speakers, or the actual show with its plant information, display gardens and plants for sale. But luckily I didn't have to decide, since this local event is all things wrapped up into one.
On Friday, I heard Sean Hogan discuss Best New Natives for Design (yes, arctostaphylos!), Dan Hinkley spoke on Noteworthy Trees, Shrubs and Vines for Pacific NW Gardens (many in the pipeline from Monrovia soon), and Maurice Horn made a compelling case for some overlooked Perennials and Shrubs of Merit for Northwest Gardens, including a favorite of mine, Cistus obtusifolius.
Sunday I sat in on half of Ciscoe Morris showing Stellar Plant Combinations, then heard Brian Bauman expound on ten of his best new plants for 2013 (if you've been looking for the elusive Acacia 'Cousin Itt', Bauman Farms will have it this summer.)
Although I wasn't knocked out by any of the official display gardens as a whole, I really enjoyed the color and contrast presented in some of the plant combinations and materials.
Where color was more muted, texture and pattern contrasted.
Hammamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' figured prominently in multiple gardens, as did Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'.
Yes, that is a child-sized nest you see above and below - complete with child.
I loved the curving steel and the long narrow pavers in this garden.
Of course there were chickens: we're in Portland, people.
There were bees.
And a number of raised beds.
I came to understand my need for an exterior sink on a beautiful natural plank counter.
Despite many tempting options...
And now that I'm revved up, it's on to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle in just a week!