-

-
Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Fling Visit to Sunset Headquarters

Sunset is a hundred-year-old publisher of Sunset Magazine which began as a publication promoting the beauty of California to mostly Midwestern readership.  Over time, Sunset Magazine has become a  lifestyle publication featuring articles about travel, cooking, gardening,  entertaining, and  architecture  for Westerners.  Sunset also produces a variety of garden books including The Western Garden Book, a wonderful reference book of  plants that will grow in this part of the country.  It's often the first garden book purchased by western gardeners when starting to garden here.   Because USDA hardiness zones only take into consideration winter low temperatures,  in 1967, Sunset devised and introduced a refined system of 24 climate zones for the states west of the Continental Divide.  The book now includes climate zone maps for Alaska, Hawaii, and Southwestern Canada.    Having read the magazine and used book for years, I was excited to see the Sunset Headquarters and gardens in Menlo Park.  To learn how to visit yourself, go here.
 
The garden is divided into several areas featuring plants that thrive in various regions of the west.  We start at the test garden which is  "jammed with the latest plants, devices, and projects we're evaluating for coverage in Sunset."  Notice that tall bushy looking plant  with purple blooms just below the eve of the roof on the corner.  That's one of Sunset's new introductions this year Salvia 'Amistead.'  Many of us fell in love with the blooms with black calyxes like S. 'Black and Blue' but with purple flowers.  While it may not grow quite this tall for me, I was delighted to find one on sale at Fred Meyer (Thank you Heather & Scott!)  for $12.00!



Pam Penick, mother of the Fling, evaluating the pavers in the small seating area that you'll see more of below.  To get her take on it, go here
 
And in case you missed Pam's T.V. appearances -
 
 
 
 
 
So many colors & textures - so little space.
 
 
 
 
 
Another view of the trial gardens where 50% of Sunset's own garden photography is taken.
 
"A room with a view" was constructed for sunset and will be featured in a future issue of the magazine.
 


Interesting arbor in that it's both ornamental and utilitarian.   For some reason, it didn't look all that sturdy.

I was reminded of this purely ornamental  circular portal from the Carhart Garden on Vashon Island, WA.

One of the many nice surprises in the Pacific Northwest area of the Sunset Garden was this totem created 15 miles south of my home town in Alaska.


I guess this is what happens to Japanese maples when grown in hot summer areas.  Maybe the irrigation system malfunctioned.

Even though this isn't my cup of tea, these are very nicely done!

 At the sunset Headquarters, we had the pleasure of hearing presentations by sponsors Sunset Western Garden Collection, (Salvia 'Amistead' being one of my faves!) Southern Living Plant Collection/Encore Azalea, and Bailey Nurseries.  Bailey, headquartered in the Midwest, has growing fields both there and on Sauvie Island, near Portland, OR.  I've driven past them for years  and it was nice to put faces and stories with the fields.



Another of the sunset collection that sounds interesting is Jubilation Gardenia.  It is supposed to be  cold hardy and able to bloom well without as much heat as most gardenias require.  I can't wait to try one to see if we could actually have profuse gardenia blooms in summers that are fairly cool.  There's nothing like that fragrance!


 The bark of several old trees caught my eye.  Quercus lobata/Valley Oak.

 
Eucalyptus - also love the fragrance!

Platanus racemosa/California Sycamore.

 
 Crepe Myrtle in full bloom. 

Do you see the sweet little Western Bluebird?

Gorgeous lawn is used for concerts and special events.

In a few steps, we're in the southwest. 




On the shady side.
 
 

An ornamental pomegranate.  I understand that in warm climates like this one, they actually set fruit.  Here we grow them just for their flowers.


 Many of us were smitten with Otatea acuminata aztecorum/Mexican weeping bamboo.  Unfortunately, it's not hardy for me.

And we're back at the test garden  for a last look.


What a lovely place to visit!  Am I the only one who wishes that his workplace had gardens like this around it?



36 comments:

  1. With the mixture of features within the same compound, the place reminds us of an (outdoor) flower show, especially with the demonstration gardens. Same here, wish our workplace had gardens like that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe they have an opening or two at Sunset. Happy Monday guys!

      Delete
  2. Oh, I wish I had made the rounds of this garden with you instead of on my own. Then I might have seen that bluebird. Bummed that I missed it, but Dang! You are a hard man to keep up with. Which Fred Meyer had the Salvia 'Amistead?' I have two 'Black and Blue,' but they are tiny things, nowhere near flowering. They arose very late in the spring, and I'm worried we won't get enough heat for it to reach flowering size before frost. I think I'd like to try the 'Amistead.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found 'Amistead' at the Fred Meyer on Pacific Avenue and S. 72nd in Tacoma. There were a lot of them but they looked kind of sad with some yellow leaves that looked like under/over watering. Puyallup usually has a lot of great garden stuff.

      Delete
  3. Peter, such wonderful garden, divided in different zones. I love the barks of oak and eucalypti. Very impressive! South-west area with cactus is interesting as well. Thank you for sharing your tour!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This garden having various regions represented by individual areas of the garden was really special. I'm glad you enjoyed coming along on the tour!

      Delete
  4. I haven't even had a chance to look at my photos from Sunset yet, thanks for the "re-tour"...you got some great shots of course!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blogging is the only thing that I've done consistently this summer. Oh well, when you cram a garden so full of plants that you cant tell where the desired plants end and the weeds begin, it's all good, right?

      Delete
  5. Oh, that Mexican weeping bamboo is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt. Damn that it's not hardy here! I'm so happy that you purchased Amistad and that we'll be able to complete an unofficial NW trial of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That bamboo is so graceful, like the big weeping grass that it is. It's hardy to zone 9a so you might be able to grow it with a little extra winter protection. It'll be interesting to see how our NW Amistad trial goes!

      Delete
  6. No. You're not the only one!
    Found the trunks of trees so very interesting...and enjoyed pondering the various styles of paths. (Don't know WHY I find them so interesting lately.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were sure a lot of ideas in that garden!

      Delete
  7. Thank you for that nicely-crafted introduction to Sunset and the Western Garden Book - it was the garden bible in my Southern California household when I was growing up. I also loved your shots of tree bark. One of the impressive things about that garden was the size of its mature trees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's still a good reference book although I use others more now. From what I read on Sunset's site, those large trees remain from the original garden installed 100 years ago.

      Delete
  8. Nice to see this gardening icon up close and personal.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful tour of Sunset! Wished I'd had a chance to talk with you more: your smile is just so wonderful and it shows in this post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh golly, thanks Linda. There's always next year in Portland!

      Delete
  10. The sycamore and eucalyptus bark is really wonderful. Too bad Eucalyptus is so flammable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is sad about Eucaluptus but we have so few here that it's not really an issue.

      Delete
  11. I knew after I saw that 'Amistad' that I wouldn't be happy until I found one!!! At first I really like the round metal arbor too, but the hinge on top definitely made it look less-than stable...and, to be honest, I'm hitting a period of orange-fatigue...c'mon people...there are other colors out there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It'll be interesting to see if 'Amistad' is hardy here and if so if it's faster to return than S. 'Black and Blue' and S. Blue Angel.

      Orange was pretty much banned from "tasteful" gardens for a while. The 60's and 70's really overused the color and it's finally found a way back and folks have embraced it. There'll be a big new color fad in a while and orange will become passé. Or maybe we've entered a whole new era of all color being good.

      Delete
  12. Great pictures of the pomegranate! In Madrid they do set fruit, I love the flowers and the fruit. I am surprised with that bamboo, it´s so weird and I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, in Madrid they would set delicious fruit! That bamboo would grow in your climate!

      Delete
  13. Loved the tour, as I was so dang hot that day, I didn't do much more then hang out in the edible garden. So it was great to see what the rest looked like! Good photo story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a warm day but I was determined to see as much as I could! That's truly a special part of the country in which to garden! Thanks, glad you liked the story.

      Delete
  14. I think I was too hot to take the tour as you did. Thanks for the great perspectives. It was a nice place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always fun to see other people's fling posts and notice the differences in perspective.

      Delete
  15. If color trends follow the 30 year curve , we will be back to pastels in the next 5 to 10 years ! You got some really nice photos here Peter .. I've been a Sunset subscriber since the 70's , and have had every version of the book since then-when the new one comes out, the previous is put in the car.I've lived in Norcal for over 25 years and have never visited here.I expected more vast demo gardens in view of their iconic stature,but what they had was very nicely done. I noticed when our busses pulled out that there was a whole other group of buildings across the street.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny you should mention that as I was thinking that the demo/trial area would be much larger too having read and heard about their experimentation with plants. The grounds were very nice though and were a good example of a mature garden. When I saw the large outdoor living area/kitchen behind the building, I thought, "That's SO Sunset Magazine!"

      Delete
  16. Beautiful! So many different areas, paths, shapes. Very impressive!

    ReplyDelete
  17. OMG, was I surprised to see your Pam-mercial in this post, Outlaw. Shout-out to Linda Lehmusvirta (who commented above) as the producer of those TV spots, BTW.

    FYI, I'm growing the Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea) in my zone 8b garden in Austin. I did lose a new-planted one in a long freeze a few years ago, but most years it does just fine, and it's getting BIG. I wonder if you get colder than we do? It might be worth a try in a protected, south-facing location. Here in Austin it does best with a little shade protection, but then, what doesn't?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Found the videos & thought they would be fun to share.

      Thanks for the info about Mexican weeping bamboo. I'm zone 8a and we do get colder. Shirley (Rock, Oak, Deer) and I have compared notes as I also love Bismarckia nobilis which she's able to grow. People have kept it going for a few years here but it eventually dies. We don't have the summer heat that some things like. Maybe I'll pick up an Otatea next time I'm in CA and try it in a sheltered spot.

      Delete
  18. Great to see what it is like in the Summer. We were there in February last year and we could only see the skeleton of the garden. No displays at that time of the year. The cactus garden and PNW areas were good along with some great camellias. I'm glad to see that they are doing the displays to attract visitors and keep up the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It surprises me that there were no displays in February as I think of that area being a place of year round gardening.

      Delete

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.