Thursday, July 23, 2009

Extremely rare, hardy, AND SMELLS LIKE DARK CHOCOLATE??!! Hhhmmmm

So, I mail ordered this plant just cuz the flowers looked cool and they claim that it smells like chocolate. Glumicalyx goseloides is the name. Impulse buy, yes. Was it worth it, OH YEAH!!!


This is a low growing, spreading South African perennial that is suppose to be hardy down to Zone 6, but requires excellent drainage. I think it'll make an exceptional container plant, but I really should try one in the ground. I found it at a local nursery and purchased a few more so I can experiment with it.

The fiery flowers are simply exquisite exuding a distinct scent that really is reminiscent of the sweet confection (you kind of have to use your imagination), but the foliage also possesses a pungent scent. It's suppose to bloom throughout the summer if it's deadheaded!

Though kind of rare, deGro Flower and Garden has been producing them and offering them at local nurseries. It won't hurt to ask around for this really interesting plant.

I've already tried to take cuttings. I'll let you know if I'm successful at rooting them.



Sunday, July 19, 2009


I never thought I'd reach a point in my career where teaching would be a key element in my repertoire of skills. Is it the wealth of information that I'm immersed in that I'm just eager to share or is it the prestige of being known as an "authority" on a particular subject or topic that drives me. I feel like its a combination of both including the simple fact that I simply love what I do and I want people to take notice!

I had two teaching stints last week that went over very well. I'm teaching again at Edmonds Community College this quarter sharing my thoughts and experiences with "Plant Collectors of the Pacific Northwest" and I had a one time gig teaching a basic plant propagation class through the Northwest Horticultural Society. Both happened on the same day, so you can imagine the tension of running around, getting materials and making sure things well (notice how I refrained from saying "according to plan"). LOL

My class at Edmonds is a field-trip-based course that explores several private gardens to see first hand how rare and select garden plants are utilized in a diversity of garden settings. They have an opportunity to meet these gardeners and learn about their approach towards collecting plants and maintaining them. The first two class sessions were the most challenging as I had them all in a classroom for lectures I scrambled to get together. Overall, despite being a new course that I basically just pulled out of my behind, it seemed to be well received and I felt confident with the information I was able to relay to them. I know certain areas could use more emphasis, but for a trial run, it wasn't too bad.

Now, the class is all field trips, an assignment for each one and a final report.
While I can breath a sigh of relief, there's still lots of work to do to make sure the garden tours run smoothly and that the students are completing their assignments and actually paying close attention to details rather than just strolling along for a pleasant walk through someone's garden.

Our first garden took us to Everett to the garden of Mary and Don Hale. Without ranting on about how lovely their garden was and what wonderful people they were to be around with, I'm going to let my photos speak for themselves.

Hale Garden Entry
The students gather as Mary begins a tour of her fabulous garden. Immediately, I was drawn by the stunning weeping willow in the background.

Hale Garden Tour
These are most of my students. Yes, they're all older than me! lol

Hale Layered Border
Not only does Mary have a wonderful selection of plants, she pays attention to how they're placed in her garden. This is a fairly steep slope planting with many woody and herbaceous perennials.

Immediately, one plant that caught my eye was that stunning stand of sultry white.

Galega x hartlandii alba
This is Galega x hartlandii 'Alba'. Mary mentioned that it was the cultivar 'Lady Wilson', but my online research shows "Mrs. Wilson" as being a pale lavender pink. Whatever the name, it is absolutely striking and so gently fragrant, it is truly captivating to me.

Hale Garden container with pot
Being there in the early evening, we were treated to some lovely lighting effects as the sun set.

And that willow....oh wow...I took a few minutes to just sit on the lawn, relax and take in a breath of fresh air to appreciate this image:

Hale Garden Willow Lawn

Mary took us all around her extensive garden and I was so impressed with her tour and the way she guided my students. She is a retired teacher and the way several of my students just hung on to her every word as she very kindly answered questions and directed our attention towards certain features of their garden was inspiring.

Hale Garden Mary teaches


Before that trip, I has a much smaller, more intimate group that gathered at the infamous Dunn Garden here in North Seattle. It is a private estate garden that's usually open during special events and tours, but somehow, NHS board member and former president, Nita-Jo Rountree managed to convince executive director Sue Nevler and curators Glenn Withey and Charles Price to hold my plant propagation class in their grounds. Boy, what a treat it was and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Riz Lectures for NHS at Dunn Garden
Photo by Nita-Jo Rountree

Glenn and Charles kindly gave the students a tour of the beautiful gardens they helped design and maintain and just as an added perk, an art exhibition was being installed! While I'm a bit skeptical about garden art, the borders and plantings were exceptional:

Dunn Garden Border 1

Dunn Curator Garden 1

White container composition 1
They do some of the most amazing containers

Polystichum Rock 2
One of my most favorite ferns (Polystichum setiferum divisilobum 'Plumoso-Multilobum' used beautifully with a stone sculpture and ornaments.

Pachystegia insignis habit Pachystegia insignis flower detail
By far the most stunning specimen is Pachystegia insignis from New Zealand. Lovely felt-like silvery foliage and pretty white dandelion like flowers.

Astelia container composition
Another striking container composition this time using Astelia 'Silver Spears'

Geranium Pansy flower detail
A stunning Pansy-faced Pelargonium called 'Oldbury Duet' that caught Nita-Jo's eyes. Glenn and Charles kindly let me take a cutting.

It really is remarkable what you can learn from touring gardens. Just being in these kinds of settings really brings out a lot of positive energy and inspired knowledge that I'm more than eager to share to those who care to see and listen.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend Recovery

This past weekend, I made a concerted effort to take it easy!

I've been working endlessly, having constant headaches and stressing about taking on so many things again this summer so on Saturday, I tried my best to stay away from checking my email, answering my cell phone and taking on another project at Landwave.

I slept in Friday night and woke up late in the morning to join some family for dim sum at the International District. Then I went to downtown and picked up some custom printed shirts and a vest with my business logo. Okay, that was work related, but it wasn't a big deal. Since I was already at Westlake, I walked down to Pike Place Market and had a blast buying some exceptional produce as I contemplated my dinner for the evening. I scoped out each stand looking for the freshest items, compared prices, and picked up some wonderful things. The first crop of fingerling potatoes looked good enough to eat right then and there and a large bunch of golden beets with the greens still attached looked as fresh as can be and for $2, it was a steal!

Being at the market, even when I was very young, always intrigued me. I was tempted with all sorts of things left and right and, of course, I was drawn to the stands of fresh summer flowers that filled the market with their riveting colors and enticing fragrances. Lilies and dahlias drew the most glances along with Crocosmias and sunflowers all grown locally, but it was my nose that took over all my other senses as I treated myself to a generous bunch of heavily perfumed sweet peas.

In a way, it almost looked like I was shopping for a very special dinner date and in a way, I sort of was; I was treating a part of myself I had been neglecting for so long and deserved something special.

After the market and a cup full of gelato, I walked back to my car and headed up to Northgate where I got a new cell phone and, afterwards, I felt compelled to visit a local music store nearby and finally got a new bow so I can start up playing my violin again after several years hiatus. Music is another love of mine that I've just not made enough time for.

On my way home that day, I swung by a local Filipino store to treat myself to a serving of halo-halo. I drove home, sat under the canopy of my outdoor swing and enjoyed my sweet and refreshing dessert as I admired my garden.

In the past few weeks of stress, I've neglected to notice just how productive the garden has been even without my best efforts in keeping it up.

Vegetable Bed Lettuce

I've been starting to harvest from my formal vegetable beds. Lettuce 'Merlot' and Lacinato kale look and taste superb and my snow peas are crisps and sweet as ever! My grandpa would be proud!

Oh, and the lilies have begun their show. Regal and absolutely elegant in the landscape, I'm always captivated by them. As one variety opens after another, I'm inspired once again to revive the little breeding program I started up a few years ago. I collected some pollen to dry and capped a few stigmas to prepare for pollination with a few crosses in my mind, but before I did, I snapped a few photos:

Lilium Zeus portrait
The ever vigorous 'Zeus' with its cantaloupe orange blooms and dark spots glow spectacularly in the morning light.

Lilium HL Portrait 1
On the other end of the spectrum, the soft and delicate 'Heirloom Lace' creates a soft and captivating image amongst ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials in bloom.

There are more lilies to come, so stay tuned!

Sunday wasn't as eventful, but still relatively productive and not as stressful as previous weekends have been.

I need more time like this. I work hard for everything I've got and I worry so much that even one day off will set me back, but this weekend proved that I can have this balance in my life and remain in a good, healthy frame of mind.

Still have lots to do, but I feel like things will be just fine.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sitting Down with KCTS 9

I've been involved in a little project with our local public television station, KCTS 9.

Last year, I met Stephen Hegg; a producer at KCTS who greeted me at an event I was invited to at their studios promoting, "The Victory Garden", a gardening show on PBS I grew up watching. In our early conversations, I shared this fact about myself and how public television practically raised me as a child. Hinting that it played a huge role in my aspirations of becoming a horticulturist, an idea came to his head about possibly doing a brand story on me.

We stayed in touch, filmed some promotional tidbits for KCTS's summer programming last year and earlier this year, we got together with his camera crew to begin this long process of filming for a very short segment piece he is going to create.

He had his crew follow me around during this year's NW Flower and Garden Show and just last week, they came out to Landwave to get some footage of me working.

On Tuesday, we filmed my testimonial where he asked me questions about my work and how public television and KCTS has impacted my life.

Riz KCTS Interview B

It was nice to kind of look back as I recalled memories of when I was a child watching KCTS. From all the kids shows (some of which I still watch today when I get a chance), Saturday afternoon cooking segments, inspiring dance and music through shows like "Great Performances", and, of course, watching Roger Swain, Marian Morash and Peter Seabrook show me the ropes on growing plants, it was a huge honor to be able to somehow give back to public television.

I just hope that my story is compelling enough to reach a broad audience and garner the support of those who can financially contribute to KCTS during this tough time.

We're still not sure when my segment will air, but I do hope that people will stay tuned; watch the quality programming they have to offer and pledge their support.
Click here to SUPPORT KCTS 9!!


Monday, July 6, 2009


What an odd and somewhat frustrating weekend.

I had three days to just unwind, work in the garden and nursery, and rest after another busy week, but for some reason, I couldn't stop thinking about all the work that still needed to be done, the pending work I have for several clients, the ongoing issues with the house, and the fact that I've turned down every single invitation for 4th of July festivities really got to me. On top of all this, I've had a recurring headache all weekend. Overall, I've just been in a negative mood and frame of mind.

So, what does one do to get away from all this? Apparently, I had no clue because no matter what I did this weekend, it felt like work, but I wasn't getting paid for it. Am I burning out? Could it just be the weather: the lack of rain and watching parts of the garden fry even before I can set out the hose and sprinkler? Did I put more on my plate without realizing it? Again?!

I've never felt so overwhelmed with everything. It seems like everywhere I looked, a new task was to be done. Even the most beautiful flowers that grace the garden at this time of year demands more of my attention rather than my admiration. ("Ahh..need new photos to post on the blog!!") hhehehe..

Now, I've overcome a lot of things over the years and I firmly believe this is just another stage I need to endure and I will learn from it.

When I look at the bigger picture, I'm doing a lot of things I've always wanted to do and maybe I just need to get used to the time constraints and demands, take some time to get fully organized, and I think, most importantly right now, GET MORE SLEEP!