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 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:
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.
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.
I 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:
Lupinus 'The Governor' in bloom with Euphorbia 'Fireglow' and Tulipa 'Ballerina' just finishing up.
Paeonia 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.
What would May be without CHINESE MAYAPPLES! They are blooming now and looking absolutely spectacular.
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.