Thursday, April 23, 2009

Defining the "Next Generation Gardener"

I just started to send out email notifications to friends and colleagues about this new blog and I thought it would be appropriate to define and explain the title of this online journal, "THe Next Generation Gardener"

Seattle Times garden columnist, Val Easton, dubbed me as "a new generation of gardener...this child prodigy has grown into a horticultural omnivore whose keen knowledge and enthusiasms bode well for the future of Northwest gardening."

Pretty spiffy, eh? (Ha, my one opportunity to gloat and revel in the success and notoriety of being a horticultural celebrity. NOT!!)

It's actually A LOT to live up to. While I've enjoyed the praise and the attention, I still feel like I'm behind in some respects and lack certain skills and experiences. What needs more attention is the next generation of GARDENERS (not just me); those that can be exposed to nature and have a growing respect and understanding for the environment.

In my view, the next generation has to understand some, if not all, of the many different issues facing our environment. Whether it's sustaining our natural resources, conserving and preserving rare and endangered species, or improving our own personal health and livelihood by altering our wasteful ways: plants, flowers, and gardens are intrinsically linked to each one of those and now is the time for us to be informed about them because each of us can easily play a small role in making these changes to preserve our planet.

The goal shouldn't immediately be to shape the next avid plant snob. That may/will/should come later; however, the whole subject of plants has to appeal to the masses and from there, the true gardeners emerge.

As one of "the next generation", I would like to see technology playing a more direct and innovative role in relaying CLEAR & ACCURATE INFORMATION while keeping up the traditional "grunt work" that's involved in planting and caring for our landscapes. Gardening is a time honored tradition that will always be preserved. Being able to buy plants, dig and amend soil, plant, water, weed, prune, cut back, propagate, etc. is what makes gardening...GARDENING!! HELLO!!

No one sits on their ass to change the environment around them. Seriously!

I would like to see this up and coming generation of gardeners focus on adventurous, yet appropriate plant selections (both native and exotic), edible landscaping, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing design and public gardens.

It sounds daunting to some, but it really doesn't need to be a difficult and strenuous undertaking. Do a little here and there or make an effort to, at least stop by a local garden center and buy something "green", useful and beautiful.

Also, I think it's going to take a few "big names" to help catalyze this entire movement. More on this later...

So yeah, I'm a "NGG", yo!

Peace out! =P


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There's no shame in shopping at Lowe's or Home Depot, damn it!

I've found myself stopping in at my local Lowe's or Home Depot on the look out, as always, for something new and interesting (yes, it's possible!).

Shopping at these "hardware" stores has always been frowned upon amongst my peers who prefer to shop at the more elaborate, regularly stocked nurseries with a wider selection and, yes, a more knowledgeable staff. They're also frowned upon because so many of their offerings are misleading: incorrectly labeled, poorly maintained and mistreated during production.

So for someone like me, who has to watch his plant budget, going to these stores is actually beneficial IF you know what you're looking at/for. These stores are a great place to find your "tried and true" standards or if you're looking for something quick and colorful, but temporary (ie annuals). But if you're looking for trees, shrubs and perennials, plants have to be closely inspected. However, even if healthy, you have to do some homework to determine if it is even appropriate for planting in our climate?? It annoys the hell out of me to see plants shipped from California in March being offered to Northwest Gardeners who often don't know any better than to see a pretty lush plant and snatch it up thinking that it's going to do everything the nursery worker says (as she sneaks glances at the incorrectly written and generic label).

Occasionally, I run across surprises and score on a few good deals. Here are a few:

Helleborus Ivory Prince
Helleborus x 'Ivory Prince' is an exceptional shade perennial that typically retails for around $15-$20. These were well grown, in full bud and bloom and they had a fresh shipment come in so they were reasonably healthy and priced at less than $10 for a gallon plant! Yesssss!

Home Depot Anemone
This was a surprising find. Double flowered and Anemone forms (like this one) are still fairly new to the trade. I have this habit of looking at every single Helleborus x hybridus flower to see if the color and form is anything special and when I turned up the flowers on this one, my eyebrows raised. Though not the most spectacular bloom, it was still surprising to see it at Home Depot of all places.

During a recent visit, I found this lovely Clematis that I couldn't find much info on, but it sure is beautiful and FRAGRANT!! (yes, I bought two)

Clematis South Cross
Labelled as Clematis 'South Cross', it is actually 'Southern Cross'. At first, I thought it was a selection of C. armandii, the evergreen sweet autumn clematis, but based on the very little information out there on this variety, it says that it's more shrub like, blooms in early spring and may not be reliably hardy. So, we'll see. I'll take careful note this season!

So there you go, doesn't hurt to peak and check out the garden section when you're at your local Lowe's, McLendon's, or Home Depot. You might just find a special lil' treasure or save a few bucks on your basic plant needs.


A unique variation on the "Panda Face" Ginger.

Asarum maximum is what catapulted me in seriously pursuing rare Chinese woodland perennials and earlier this week, boy, was I treated to something spectacular.

This is an imported specimen of A. maximum I have in my garden/nursery, Landwave Gardens, that flowered for the first time this spring.

So here's what a typical form looks like growing and blooming at the UW Botany Greenhouse (one of my most favorite places in Seattle). Usually, the petals are rounder:

THEN, just the other day, I discover THIS:

Now, I don't know if this is going to be stable, but there are a few buds yet to open, so we'll see.

See, if I can teach and convince peers my age about just how freakishly cool and awesome this is, I'd be totally stoked. For now, it's just in my garden awaiting more admirers.


Monday, April 20, 2009

It felt like springtime, so I start a new blog!!

I welcome you all to my new blog!

To those who don't know me, my name is Rizaniño "Riz" Reyes. I'm 26 years old and live in Shoreline, WA USA (just north of Seattle). Plants and horticulture are my passion and I'm blessed to be living in a remarkable climate that calls for an amazing diversity of plant species to be utilized from all over the world. I'm surrounded by the most avid, most generous and encouraging community of gardeners one could ever ask for and there's ALWAYS something happening in Pacific Northwest horticulture. So, here's my opportunity to share my knowledge, my experiences, and share with you the never-ending output of new information I'm constantly being fed.

With the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where I still blog on a limited basis, and the lack of motivation to actually have "a voice" on the internet, I was inspired to start on a clean slate with a far more driven approach to sharing what I do. I need to have an outlet to simply voice my thoughts and opinions and not get so caught up on mentioning every single event because I get requests to promote something or get too caught up on what people want/need to read about. It's a personal choice to read online journals and blogging is so incredibly time consuming. I'm sorry, but I just can't please everyone. Trying to do so in the past has almost lead me to throw in the towel. However, I'm not giving up on this!

Time, oh how times flies especially when you're not making money.

I don't want to be depressed during this recession and uncertain economic climate, but all the signs are there. I'm worried about the status of my job as the Soest Perennial Display Gardener at the UW Botanic Garden's Center for Urban Horticulture and I'm really not certain about whether or not people are going to want buy plants and/or generate ideas to have work done in their gardens.

What I am certain of is my love for what I do. Even during the worst of times, working with plants and flowers has always brought out the best in me and I'm able to look at life in a new and refreshing light seeing nature work her magic as each season progresses. I hope there are people out there that can relate. I know you're out there *wink*.

I hope you visit often as I will try my best to update this at least every week. I'm hoping to post many photos, like I usually do, but I'd like to start incorporating videos as well (currently saving up for a new laptop and camera). Being a very visual person, I feel like more readers are compelled to read what you have to say if you have a compelling visual that accompanies it.

Visit my website: and learn more about me and what I do.

Today was absolutely beautiful with the sun out and people, in general, in a happier mood. Can't ask for too much more right now. hehe Actually, I can, but I won't...I won't. LOL

Again, welcome and thank you for your continued interests.