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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World...

Since many of us are overwhelmed by the beauty of the fantasy gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show recently, I thought it might be nice to present something on a more realistic scale.  While driving down the street the other day, this garden caught my eye.  Talk about small space gardening!
The combination of artifical and living plants was something one doesn't often see.  How else could one have a ficus and croton growing out of doors in zone 8? 
There are elements of this garden that I find delightful. The love of gardening is evident. (Although one wonders how many silkworms gave their lives for this.)

When the water feature is turned on, water pours out between the two metal bands at the top of the barrel. 
Just up the way, container gardening is alive and well!  You know, gardening and a passion for plants is something that we can all share to some extent or another.  I love the fact that this is a hobby for everyone and that we are all able to create our own vision of beauty.

But seriously girlfriend, those orange cones have got to go.  Or be turned upside down and be planted with something purple or maybe blue.   

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

You may have read my tale of woe about parking in Seattle a few posts ago.  I must say that on my second visit, I was lucky enough to park in the actual convention center parking structure which was extremely simple to navigate, had numbered parking spaces, level letters and colors.  All I had to do was follow the orange concrete path and it led me directly to the lobby of the convention center. 
If you're not familliar with the little jingle, Let's All Go to the Lobby, here's a video of it for you.
The title of this year's show was "There's a Little Garden in All of Us."  However, the theme was Hollywood Movies.  I don't understand why the title didn't also state the theme but I probably missed out on some important facts because I didn't read the newsprint  program prior to entering.  Anyway, the lobby which eluded me on my first visit (I knew it existed as I've attended many events at this venue) contained lots of fun stuff.  First to greet the visitor was the Washington Flower Growers Association's Wizzard of Oz themed garden complete with a yellow flower road to the Emerald City. The Emerald City is one of Seattle's monikers.

Funny how dorothy looks so glamorous after traveling via spinning house all the way from Kansas.  Maybe she's miffed because there are no poppies to be found.
Can you see Toto in the basket of the bicycle?
Our old pal Scarecrow hanging out on a rustic twig bench.

The Cowardly Lion seems to be the first one to get close to the Space Needle which, although not mentioned in the book, is probably where the Wizzard hung out.  For a nice wide view of this whole Oz garden look here
This awesome table was made by Live Edge Woodworks

Near the table was a sign with the following words written by Kim Hoelting, the founder of Live Edge:
Imagine being alive for a thousand years.  Think of the storms, droughts, and brilliant sunny days.  Now imagine dying but remaining vertical for another two centuries, with life swirling around you.  Then one day you topple over but your body remains visible on the forest floor for many more centuries nourishing your offspring.  This is the story of cedar, our totem species.
Study these amazing specimens.  Where is the line between life and death?
Truly beautiful!

On the opposite side of the lobby were the floral arrangements.  Here is a small sampling of the many delightful offerings.   This one was a crowd pleaser! Unfortunately, I've forgotten it's name and creator.
"Red Carpet Ready" by Holly's Fine Flowers was interesting.
"Much Ado About Nothing"  by Pipper's Flowers

"Fontaine de Fleur" by La Vassar Florists

"Mae" by Capitol Florist

"My Fair Lady" by Christopher Flowers

"Star Struck!" by An Occasion Flowers made me think of all y'all from the Lone Star State.
For me, the flower arrangements aren't the main attraction of the show but It's always fun to see what these creative folks will think of next.
"Sunset: Strip" by Flora Laura was a tower of flower power!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Couple of Favorites from the Nortwest Flower and Garden Show

There were a lot of wonderful gardens at the show this year!  One of my favorites was The Lost Gardener - A Journey from the Wild to the Cultivated.  The use of several Schefflera macrophyllas alone made my heart palpitate.
 The Lost Gardener was designed by RHR Horticulture and Landwave designs aka Riz Reyes.  It is always amazing to me that in seventy two hours, the convention center is magically (Riz would probably say that three sleepless days of work is not really magic) transformed into a series of amazing gardens.  What is even more impressive is that this is Mr. Reyes first garden entry in the show. 
The Lost Gardener was a plant nerd paradise which included many unusual favorites.  Note the Schefflera taiwaniana to the lower left of it's larger cousin.  The garden could not simply be taken in in a cursory walk by as it was so packed with great green treasures that more and more became apparent as one lingered.  Although the stars of the garden (for me) were the less common plants, there were also some great common workhorses like Viburnum davidii playing an important role.

Is that a nolina?  In looking at Riz's plant list I noticed that I missed spotting a few plants. 
 So much green goodness and the use of Cardiocrinum giganteum  seed pods is way cool!  This is a garden at which I wouldn't mind staring for quite a while!
 Another favorite was A Hobbit's New Zeland Garden created by the Arboretum Foundation.   Of course, I loved the phormiums and cordylines.  Are those tree ferns adorable or what?
 It's difficult to see but in the middle of the picture there is a little stream with a fogger that added more mystery and magic to the scene.
 The slope that you saw in the first picture is the roof of this hobbit home.  If this whole thing could be transported to my back yard I'd be a happy man.
 Wouldn't this be a great tool shed/ space to store the lawn mower.  Now let's see, if our garage mysteriously burned to the ground, do you suppose the insurance company would allow us to replace it with this?
There are many more wonderful gardens and ideas to share from the NWFGS. 
I'll leave you with this shot taken in the "Vintage Marketplace"  which represents what I heard a lot of over the last few days. No, not a whole lot of nothing but rather ooo's (and aah's too.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Bugged Me at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show.

One of my favorite things at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show for the last few years is the work of Sean Goddard whose giant insects are beautifully executed in metal and glass.
 Sean was quite gracious in allowing me to photograph his stunning creations! 

Each one is glorious.  The difficulty is in choosing just one as they look great in swarms.
 To see more images of Sean's beautiful bugs, visit him here.
In addition, you should make plans to attend the Seattle Flower and Garden Show next year.
Every night, Joe would go down to the liquor store, get a six pack,
bring it home, and drink it while he watched TV. One night, as he
finished his last beer, the doorbell rang. He stumbled to the door
and found a six-foot cockroach standing there. The bug grabbed him by
the collar and threw him across the room, then left.
The next night, after he finished his 4th beer, the doorbell rang. He
walked slowly to the door and found the same six-foot cockroach
standing there. The big bug punched him in the stomach, then left.
The next night, after he finished his 1st beer, the doorbell rang
again. The same six-foot cockroach was standing there. This time, he
was kneed in the groin and hit behind the ear as he doubled over in
pain. Then the big bug left. The fourth night Joe didn't drink at all. The
doorbell rang. The cockroach was standing there. The bug beat the snot out
of Joe and left him in a heap on the living room floor. The following day,
Joe went to see his doctor. He explained the events of the preceding four
nights. "What can I do?" he pleaded. "Not much" the doctor replied. "There's
just a nasty bug going around."
 While the Seattle Show is the second largest in the nation, it has more seminars than any other garden show in the world!

What do you get if you cross some ants with some tics?
All sorts of antics!
Why did the bees go on strike?
Because they wanted more honey and shorter working flowers!
 Beetles are one of Sean's favorite subjects and he does them very well.  I like the liberal use of dichroic glass in these.
Here's wishing you few flies in your ointment. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Northwest Flower and Garden Show Part One: The Skybridge

Contrary to the highly urbane and terribly sophisticated  image you may have of me,  (yeah, right) I'm pretty much a small town homebody so navigating the big city of Seattle can be quite a harrowing experience for this simple hayseed.  The traffic on the way was just fine but when I got to the convention center, today's destination, the parking garage was full so I parked in a nearby garage.  In cities, these openings in the sides of buildings seem to magically appear with parking signs on them.  I drove into the next such rabbit hole I found and as I went further and further up the levels of the parking structure the ceilings seemed to be getting shorter and shorter.  I drive a small car but I was ducking in hopes of avoiding the ceiling when it would undoubtedly shave the top of the car off.  The air in this particular structure was exceptionally stagnant and warm. The concrete surface beneath was smooth and shiny from so much wear while the walls and ceilings were all sprayed with white foam insulation which had turned dark gray from  many years of accumulated exhaust.  I've never actually had a panic attack before but the lack of parking on the first six floors along with the magically shrinking ceiling caused me to say calming things to myself.  Did I take the wrong pill or go through an incorrect door?  Wondering to which circle of hell I had been delivered I finally found parking on the seventh level.  To help you visualize, I've included this map.
I was able to locate elevators with a dearth of information as to locations of things like streets posted anywhere.  Yes, a sensible person would assume that  if he entered on level one, that would be where he would want to return on the elevator but there was a sign on level 3 about a hotel entrance and after surviving the parking ordeal, 'twas  difficult to properly regulate one's thoughts.  There was a woman, only a few years my senior who was also playing elevator games and looking as befuddled as I felt.  It was incredibly nice not to feel so alone in my inability to figure out the labyrinthine complexity of  Wonderland or Dante's Inferno whichever this was.  Fortunately a very nice young woman, coffee in hand, saw us and taking pity said, "Oh, I'll help you folks."  She pushed the right button, gave us a few directions and led us out into the light.  Ah, fresh(ish) air and light.  We beheld, once again, the sky.
Now, someone of my age who takes a daily water pill, has just made a long hour's journey into night, battled his way, with the help of a coffee-bearing guardian angel, back into the light and walked to his final destination will most likely be looking for a restroom sign.  Being unable to locate any such handy signage I decided that If I simply rode the escalators around for a while I'd eventually spot something resembling a mens room.  Shortly after I began contemplating possible  receptacles and visually scanning for dark corners, a restroom sign appeared.  Was this a miracle like the elevator angel or simply a mirage?  We'll hope that it was the former as if it were not, there's a puddle somewhere in the Seattle Convention Center.
Whew!  Parking, check, john trek, check. Now, If one buys a multi day pass online, (s)he cannot simply go to the ticket area and present said ticket.  No my friends, technology has not yet advanced that far.  Instead, (s)he must find will call which is far removed from the ticket counter and the entrance to the event,  present the aforementioned pre-purchased and printed ticket and receive in exchange, a ticket printed on card stock.  I've navigated airports in many large and even foreign cities with ease.  Finding will call was not as difficult as the Montreal airport in the late seventies but is was a little confusing. Fortunately, the convention center and the event were so well staffed with wonderful, kind, and helpful folks that I eventually found it, got my new card stock ticket and headed into the show. 
Why would one do this to himself, you may ask?  Well, for the joy of being amongst lots of other passionate gardeners, seeing amazing gardens and vendors, and experiencing inspiring presentations at The Northwest Flower and Garden Show, the second largest such show in the nation. Upon entering, one is transported to a magical place full of great ideas, people and plants! 
There is a skybridge that links two huge rooms containing the large show gardens and various vendors.  The gardens in the Small Space Showcase on the skybridge are often  among my favorites; maybe because of the abundance of natural light, maybe the smaller size makes them feel more like rooms that could be added to my own garden. 
We sometimes wonder about where other bloggers might be writing their posts.  I visualize Ms. Danger working in this chartreuse and orange office by Ravenna Gardens called, "2013: A Plant Odessey."
 The theme of the show was "Gardens Go Hollywood" thus the movie references.
 Eliza Dolittle?  Audrey Hepburn?  "On the Street Where You Live" by Sunnyside Nursery
 These Fabulous metal pots by Steve Farris are truly drool worthy!  The compostition was called "Spring"  One enjoys a good clean double entendre!

 I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too!

"Jurassic Park" by West Seattle Nursery got an award for best plant material.  Love the tree ferns and cordylines!

 "Electro-cute"...Salvaged objects take charge by Artistic Garden concepts.  The metal mesh planters on top with footed bowls of lighted glass balls made me want to run home and make some for my garden!

Dean Tile created "The Emerald City" a fabulous mosaic "rug" graces the floor. 

A Nook Beneath the Eaves by Condina Ceramics Studio was eye catching!  
 The repeated circle/oval motif, limited color palette, and whimsey make this very interesting and fun!
 Love this ceramic pavement idea but have a feeling that these need to be affixed to concrete to keep them from breaking under foot traffic.    Remember, these are fantasy gardens.

Codina Ceramics Studio also had a presence in the vendor area so that you can enjoy some of this light hearted fun in your own garden!

Here's Leslie Codina the creator of all of this cool work!
 There are lots more wonderful gardens and ideas from the NWFGS to share  in future posts.   Happy garden show season everyone!