Thursday, February 11, 2010

The first spring garden show of 2010

I've been slow at posting about the Northwest Flower and Garden Show I attended last Wednesday in Seattle.
First, I've had no time.
Second, I pulled a rank amateur move and ran out of battery power after about a dozen pictures. (So that's what that flashing little red icon was for. I thought it was telling me to use the flash!)

But I figured I'd better get a few impressions committed to "print" before my personal memory chips were dazzled by the next show, the Yard Garden and Patio show beginning tomorrow.

I was particularly taken by one of the display gardens by Susan Calhoun of Plantswoman Design. Her garden was called Swimming a la Naturale. Skinny dipping, right? But no, she had a natural pool filtered by a plant-filled bog, so no chlorine was needed. It's supposed to be good for people and animals alike, and must be better for the plants that surround it. I loved her choice of plants around the pool.
Just look at this little dark reddish-brown conifer and the manzanita species beside it.

The echeveria and the coprosma 'tequila sunrise' made a great warm purple combination.

The pond was supported and surrounded by a gridded iron enclosure containing stones, like the ones you see along the highway when there have been rock slides. I liked the muscular, industrial look of the structure, topped by contrasting gentle foliage.

I think this is rhododendron sinogrande. I know I'd want it around my pond.

Strong color contrasts seemed to be a hallmark of this year's display gardens.

And the gardens were lit very dramatically to enhance the contrasts.

This garden had wonderful rusted steel "batons" that provided great vertical interest and a nice repetitive element. There were a dozen or so and they were about five feet tall. Nice!

More color, but with gentler contrast. Looks like rhododendron PJM with its bronzy-red, small leaves.

These three colorful pots made a fabulous fountain.
The very first plant I saw upon entering the Convention Center was this amazing variegated acanthus. It's 'Tasmanian Angel', and the grower also has one called 'White Water' that's a bit creamier.


Textural contrasts were in good supply, too. I have to say I fell in love with this gorgeous combination of papyrus, rhododendron leaves and (I think) echium.

This beautiful 'Yellow Wave' flax mocked me, as I thought of my poor garden specimens languishing flat on the ground at home. But it was beautiful, surrounded by crinkly purple heuchera.

I finally saw a 'Chief Joseph' pine. What a breathtaking yellow for an evergreen!

A Golden Hinoki cypress (camaecyparis obtusa 'Aurea'). The shades of gold and brown on its scales (technically, they're not leaves) were not to be believed.

I want to leave you with this lively, yet soothingly zen image. In the Pacific Northwest in winter we have lots of we might as well love it!


  1. Looks like you made good use of what battery power you had!

    That variegated acanthus (or rather one just like it) was the first thing I saw at last years show! Funny.

    I find it interesting that there are still so many Flax being shown, since we all know that many (most?) Portland and Seattle gardeners have lost theirs due to the weather two years in a row.

    And I love the Papyrus/Rhodie/Echium combo! So...what did you buy?

  2. Hi Jane~~ Fun. Thank you for sharing. I love 'Tasmanian Tiger' but the ones I see in the nurseries always look really sad. Not to mention expensive. This is the most healthy I've seen. I'm drooling. I love the pot/fountain ensemble. And yes, it's a good thing we like moss because there is an abundance of it here. This zen setting is very cool. Have fun at the Portland show.

  3. You managed to get a lot of good shots off before the battery gave out. That reminds me, I need to charge up my spare before the show here this weekend. I've never made it up to the Seattle show but I think I've been slacking, it seems like it's worth the trip.

  4. Jane, I laughed at "Eye-Poison." I might have to plagiarize. LOL I enjoyed seeing your photos again. I left my Crosposma outside and I'm pretty sure it's toast. I are stupid.

  5. Takes more than battery power. I had plenty, and got way less impressive photos at the Portland show.

  6. Jane - don't you hate it when your battery dies? That happens to me all the time. Thanks for the pics and for the visit to my site. This is making me really excited for the philadelphia flower show (2 weeks away!).

  7. Hi Jane - Sorry about the battery, I do that all the time. You did great with what you got! I was lusting after that 'Tequila Sunrise' but found out it's not hardy for us, boo hoo. That rhody is a PJM, they were everywhere, weren't they? An oldie but a goodie, according to some garden pros and other show attendees I talked to. Might have to break my no-rhodies rule for it! Seems like the yellow flaxes do better in cold than the purple ones. Is that the case for you? And I agree, good to learn to love moss, it's pretty cool when you just let it be!

  8. The magnolia trees are called "White Star" Magnolias. Bloom same time as pjm rhodies and daffodils. I like the "greened up" version on the house but have you thought about white? Lots of homes had that red brick and the siding in white and you could do shutters or just paint the door black or red. Just a thought. I had a white ranch w/very dark green shutters and red flowers/foliage looked great.


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