Friday, May 29, 2009

Magnolias in the Arboretum, The UW President's Home, Dan Hinkley's book launch, and late May garden shenanigans!!

The heat is certainly on, YAHHHOOOOOO!! I had to make sure I was constantly drinking water during the intense heat of today as I had container watering duty.

I promised myself I'd be good about constantly updating this blog, but it really has to take a back seat when the emphasis these days is to work to earn a living. I feel like if I even stop to take a breath, I won't be paid enough! It's a sick and twisted mentality I've always had to constantly think that I'm being judged all the freakin' time; Riz has to always be in the zone, OR ELSE!

On the up side of things, I have to admit that I'm very fortunate to be this busy; to be this demanded for my time, knowledge, skills and expertise is quite fulfilling. Even though it can be physically and mentally draining at times, the diversity of what I do for my work as a next generation hardcore gardener is nothing short of astounding.

After a long day of driving around, shopping, lecturing, designing and installing, cleaning up and weeding and interacting with clients and customers, I should have just gone home or hit the gym for a low intensity work-out, but with the sun staying out much later these days, I drove up Arboretum Drive within Washington Park Arboretum to catch a group of plants in full peak bloom.

Magnolias are much revered garden plants in the landscape and the Arboretum boasts a fine collection of Asian species that are absolutely ethereal in bloom. Not only are the finely cupped and fleshy fragrant flowers a sight to behold, the impressive foliage themselves can stand alone and add a new dimension in the garden.

The first "big leaf" species I've been enamored by is the stately Magnolia officinalis. Farmed in China, where the bark is stripped and processed for traditional Chinese medicine, the gigantic leave resemble that of something from the tropics or early Jurrasic period. In the very early summer, the gigantic whorls of almost steriodal spatulate foliage surround a boombastic bud that either forms a set of leaves for the year or a hauntingly fragrant, goblet shaped flower that emerges pale green fading to a rich cream as it matures.

Magnolia officinalisMagnolia officinalis is the first tree I ever planted here at Landwave. Though it's been in the ground and thriving since 2002 and towers over 15 feet tall, it has yet to form a flower; therefore, I try and time my late spring visit to witness this:

Magnolia sieboldii close up

More widely grown and readily available is Magnolia sieboldii. Also referred to as the Oyama Magnolia, the cupped petals, deep red stamens ("inferior" forms have paler pink colored stamens) and gentle fragrance makes this large shrub highly suitable for the landscape.

Along Azalea Way is a variant of M. officinalis that was in full bloom. This form is basically a smaller form of the species, but each leaf has a distinct dent (truncate apex) at the end of each leaf to give it the formal name M. officinalis v. biloba.

Magnolia officinalis v. biloba backlit Magnolia officinalis v. biloba P1010044

The UW President's Home.

A few seasons ago, I worked alongside my co-hort, Ray Larson, at the residence of the University of Washington's president. Dubbed as Hillcrest, it is an extravagant landscape that's so meticulously maintained and with Ray's keen eye and commitment to using rare and unusual, but highly garden-worthy plants, it is the type of landscape that not only the family and their many visitors admire, but a avid plantsman will look at this garden an nod in approval.



This is just an example of the landscape there. I need to return in a few weeks to see their remarkable stand of Cardiocrinum giganteum. More pics on my Flickr! photostream in a few weeks.

NHS (Northwest Horticultural Society) and the Miller Library hosts "The Explorer's" book launch.

Dan Autographs bookI ran into Ray a few days ago during this event to help launch Dan Hinkley's new book on Shrubs and Vines in his "Explorer's Garden" series. Flanked by fellow NHS members and other friends and colleagues, it was a mellow and pleasant event. He greeted his fans, signed copies of his new book and presented a brand new lecture enticing us with some of the wonderful plants he's encountered in his travels.

After his talk, I went up to get his autograph and he said he had mentioned me in his book! Now, how incredibly cool is THAT! (after initially saying to myself, "Oh great, now I have to read it!") After some reading and browsing, I did find my name in the "Acknowledgments" section and the chapter on Viburnum when he described a species we collected together in Sichuan in 2004. Here's the actual plant we saw in the wild

Landwave is certainly coming along, I got a kick in the bum to speed things up in terms of planting, organizing the nursery, weeding and clean-up when a local garden group asked for a lecture and tour of the garden. While the garden is still a mess, it has its moments and OH THE PLANTS!!!!!! It's been such a treat seeing things bloom at this time of year:

Blue Lupines and orange Euphorbias and TulipsLupinus 'The Governor' in bloom with Euphorbia 'Fireglow' and Tulipa 'Ballerina' just finishing up.

Paeonia delavayi v. luteaPaeonia delavayi v. lutea is in full bloom. I grew this from a small seedling I got from Collector's Nursery many years ago. I was a little disappointed because I wanted the common deep red form, but this yellow variety is still charming and absolutely beautiful.

I've become quite fond of Iris japonica and the few weeks in late May where a flock of butterflies in flight appear in my Chinese woodland. An exceptional "blue" form appeared last year and is now in full bloom again. I will try and divide off this division to separate it from the group, but the clump itself is so very impressive right now.

Iris japonica blue close up Iris japonica

What would May be without CHINESE MAYAPPLES! They are blooming now and looking absolutely spectacular.

Mottled Podophyllum delavayi

Podophyllum delavayi flower

It's been very busy and will continue to be the next couple of weeks. I have to remind myself to take a breath and enjoy this anticipation of what's to come this growing season!

Off to check the sprinkler system.



Friday, May 22, 2009


So I was first introduced to this term a few years ago when I attended a APGA conference as a scholarship recipient. My professor at the time was pretty much the only person I knew so, naturally, I clinged to her and was introduced to so many people; I couldn't keep track of all of them. These meet and greets, however, proved to be so valuable in establishing a small network; I was just relieved that I made a decent first impression. It's overcoming that initial feeling of not knowing anyone in the crowd and wondering if you're dressed appropriately and if you'll say the right things, yada yada yada. Man, it's some serious work to work a crowd.

As a blogger for and my blog Pacific Northwest Gardens, I was invited to this fancy reception that was held at the Seattle Art Museum on Wednesday. I knew absolutely no one. It was such a surreal feeling walking up the steps to the beat of a DJ spinning a low key, somewhat trancy track as people in business attire mingled, sipped wine and several waiters circled the room offering tasty and delectable hors d'œuvre, and the modern art and furniture, it was quite the setting. I tried to roam the room to see if anyone seemed approachable to chat with, but mostly, I was hoping to find fellow bloggers so we had at least one thing to chat about, but sheesh, it was difficult. Even after two glasses of wine, I stated nothing to anyone until I ran into some ladies who were operating this photo booth thing. So, I was persuaded to go in and take a few pics, but at the same time, I was confident enough to chat it up with them and being far more outgoing than I was, they were introducing me to folks who would walk up to the booth and inquire what was going on. It was so sweet of them and I did end up meeting other people and exchanging a few cards and all, but boy was I uncomfortable.

I asked myself, "How much more of this do I have to do to be a success?: LOL!!
Now, I've schmoozed before, but I've always known someone I could cling to and have as my "net", but if you're thrown into "the big time", it can certainly be quite intimidating.

So yeah, here's one of the least embarrasing photos we took in the booth.

photo booth

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Next Generation Gardener in 10 years.

During my talk for the Hardy Plant Society of Washington on Monday (which went quite well and was a whole lot of fun sharing my stories and plants with the small group that was able to come), someone asked me a question at the end that, even though I've been asked the same question before, I never feel like I give "the best" answer.

"After all your travels, experiences and knowledge you've gained, where do you see yourself in 10 years?"

I gave my usual response about getting a masters, traveling and making my home base here in the Pacific Northwest and continuing to learn, yada yada yada. After driving home that night, I don't know if it was the torrential downpour of rain and the slight cold I was fighting, but I was thinking way too much about the subject and really asking myself about what's in store for me when I'm 36.

First off, who knows what the future will really bring. First and foremost, I aim to be in good health; physically and emotionally fit to continue pursuing my many interests and hobbies. Ideally, I'd like to have a significant other in my life who can help me get through the rough bumps and tumbles in life and provide that companionship I often long for when things get kind of crazy and I lose perspective on things.

You know what, I think she probably meant career wise; I have this "problem" of sharing too much at times, but I think it kind of goes to show how tightly knit things are in my life: one aspect of it is always closely related to or has a direct effect on another aspect.

When I got home, I drew up one of those Venn Diagrams to visually see the elements that make up my life currently and it was no surprised that PLANTS encompassed my entire professional sector and overlap into so many other areas. It made me ask several questions to myself:

Am I happy doing what I'm doing now and the direction I'm going? If so, is it enough to sustain a lifestyle that is both productive and comfortable?

So in 10 years, will this diagram look the same?

I think it's hard to say. My original response to that talk is pretty accurate as those are some main goals I've set for myself, but what the bigger picture will be then, who knows?

All I know now is I just have to keep working hard digging and planting and just seeing what grows and matures.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dan's New Book:

So many of us plant geeks are eagerly anticipating the launch of Dan Hinkley's new book in his "The Explorer's Garden" series. "Shrubs and Vines" follows up his highly successful, "Rare & Unusual Perennials".

The Explorer's Garden: Shrubs & Vines  cover

While I'm looking forward to seeing what he's been rushing to pull together these past few years, I just have to say, "What's with the cover?!" This and the paperback version of "Rare & Unusual Perennials" have his photo of Dan that, I don't know, just doesn't quite capture the grandeur of who he is as a plantsman and the incredible work over the years; the impact of what he's done for the horticultural world.

I think it's great that Dan is right there so people can see who he is and what he does, but it looks sort of thrown together like a high school memory scrapbook that sits inside a box buried in a pack rat's garage. My apologies to the graphic layout artists, or Dan, or Lynne, but I think it could have been done a little better. Hey, I might grow to like it, but that was just my initial reaction.

Anyway, it's what inside that counts, right? I am absolutely thrilled to find out which plants he discusses and I'm also stoked about the photography taken by Dan himself and, my friend, Lynne Harrison.

I guess part of this excitement stems from my experience of actually getting to explore with this renowned plantsman. In the fall of 2004, I had an opportunity to team up with Dan to collect seeds and plants in NE Sichuan Province. You can check out my journal and pics from the trip here.

On May 27, the Northwest Horticultural Society is holding a fundraiser that benefits the Miller Horticultural Library to launch Dan's new book.

There will be a silent auction (where I'll have a superb collection of plants up for bid), a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW lecture by Dan and, of course, a book signing.
Ooh ohh, there will be hors d'oeuvres and wine.

The event will be held at the UW Botanic Gardens - Center for Urban Horticulture. Tickets are $35, benefactor tickets are $200. For reservations email or call Karin Kravitz at 206-780-8172

The library is really needing everyone's support at this time because of the major budget cuts all of UWBG has been forced to take.

This will be the first opportunity to look at and buy this book.

See you there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speaking to the Hardy Plant Society of Washington

Hehe. Many asked, "Oh, not another plant group to join!"

So yeah, late last year, The Hardy Plant Society of Washington (HPSW) was formed to have a group that is very plant driven and focused on key issues such as care, cultivation, classification, propagation, conservation, trials and evaluation and just plain appreciation for hardy plants and their companions in the landscape.

How is this group going to be different from all the others out there. WHO KNOWS?!
In my involvement with various plant societies and currently serving on the board of one, a lot of things come into play and often its the politics of a small non-profit that will be the demise. In a way, this group was formed in response to the bitter feud between another garden group, but I hope many will look past that and think of the potential of this new community.

I guess the HPSW is aiming to have a similar system that the HPS of Oregon has. It would be great if we developed a global network and exchange information and plant material with other organizations around the world.

In my own way of garnering support for such a cause, I offered to give a lecture at our next meeting, May 18, 2009 at 7PM in Washington Park Arboretum's Graham Visitor Center.

"Travels of a Young Gardener"

"A general overview of my travels as a "NNG" (next generation gardener) and the plants that made it special. From my expeditions and garden visits in China to nursery hopping around the Pacific Northwest, come prepared to salivate over extraordinary plants through slides and potted specimens that will be on display, raffled off and also offered for sale. This is one lecture for the avid gardener. Not to be missed!"

Hope to see you!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tulips in May

As difficult as it was to take a decent photograph of my nieces and nephews when we went to see the tulip fields in Mt. Vernon last Sunday, this one of my nephew Jean-Paolo turned out kind of refreshing and funny! He blended in in the sea of red with his red coat that was almost the exact same shade as the tulips, which he could care less about, but judging from this pic, I think he enjoyed himself along with his brother and two older sisters.


Enjoy the pics of my family as I share this spetacular annual show with them!

My nieces Trisha & Alex.

My nephew, BJ.

BJ in a sea of Red.

Tulip fields in Roozengaarde

Tito (Uncle) Riz with Pao Pao.

My sister, Gretchen.

In a field of Tulipa 'Negrita'
Yours truly with my neon green shirt that just looks smashing with the deep violet of Tulipa 'Negrita'. hehe

Tulipa 'Ballerina'
Back at Landwave, my stands of Tulipa 'Ballerina' that just lights up the spring garden.

More tulip pics on my Flickr page, here.

Busy plant sales make me happy!!

It's been so exciting and so incredibly encouraging to see that interest hasn't waned when it comes to buying plants for gardens during this tough economy.

Having sold plants at the Arboretum Foundation's huge FLORABUNDANCE sale and attended the recent King County Master Gardener's Plant Sale, I was quite impressed with the crowds and fellow vendors who were more than happy to restock after only a single day of brisk sales! It was tremendous!

Edibles are flying off the tables and I've noticed several growers who normally focus on ornamentals start carrying edibles in their booths. Marketing strategy? Oh, absolutely! It's like saying "Here's something you can grow and eat, but also looks pretty. Oh and so does that plant. You can't eat that one, but it's so incredibly cool and this is what it'll do for you."

I've even started to venture into more edibles this year, myself. Yes, I'm following a trend, but at the same time, I'm rediscovering the benefits of growing my own food and that anticipation of the harvest after a long season is always thrilling to me.

Keep it up the good work and ongoing sales, folks. Plants are life!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tough Day at Work

Man, the things a gardener goes through. This torrential downpour certainly doesn't help things.

Contact me with the full story.


Friday, May 1, 2009

This should have been ME!

So yeah, some of you know that I auditioned for American Idol, but didn't make the cut to the next round (where you get to perform in front of Simon, Paula and Randy). I learned that you had to be really REALLY GOOD or just had to be a complete ass for national television.

Anyway, I found this the other day:

American Idol runner-up, David Archuleta, sings his single "Crush" IN A FLOWER SHOP OF ALL PLACES!


Now, I wonder if David Archuleta or any American Idol has any interest in plants, flowers and gardening. How about Susan Boyle??!! Oh, that woman is so sweet and inspiring! She comes across as someone who would be interested in growing plants!