Monday, December 28, 2009

The Holidays with family....and the plants they received! haha

Happy Holidays everyone. I hope you all are looking forward to the new year.

Even with the holidays present, it's still very busy, but I wanted to take the time to send my greetings to those who have been so supportive of this new venture! My sincerest thanks!

The holidays have been spent with family and friends and I got such a late start in my shopping and greeting cards, but I managed to pull it off.

There were plants on my list for a few folks including my Aunt Hermie whom I bought a really cool Tillandsia since she has good luck with them growing in the windowsill of her denture clinic! She seemed thrilled to get it! She's holding Tillandsia straminea, a rare species with sweetly scented flowers! Almost tempted to buy one for myself!

Auntie Hermie Tillandsia

On Christmas Day, I went to visit my cousins in Bellevue and presented my cousin, Tina, one of my RHR and Landwave T-shirts.

Tina with RHR logo

She lives up in Vancouver, B.C., runs several restaurants and, of course, is an amazing cook! One of her restaurants called "The Flying Tiger", and it is absolutely A MUST if you enjoy Asian Cuisine. I'm looking forward to my next visit to order my personal favorite: Pulled Duck Confit Crepes! Tina is another individual in my family that I have much respect for as she works exceedingly hard at her craft, yet is humble and maintains a wonderful sense of humor and charisma. I would LOVE to name a plant after her restaurant someday or design some containers for her!

A Christmas Rose for the holidays.

I would like to share a plant you're likely to find on display at many local nurseries right now. It is a Hellebore that was brought to my attention last year as an exceptional form of the well known, Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger).

This is the stunningly beautiful Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper' currently blooming outside in the garden.

Helleborus Josef Lemper

It is an absolutely exquisite plant with beautiful evergreen foliage that never looks too ratty or worn out, but what I'm most impressed with is the copious amounts of buds yet to develop and open and the pure, pristine white blooms with the bright yellow stamens make this truly spectacular and it's hardy and vigorous habit makes it special for the landscape or in containers for the winter!!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Move over 'Little Gem'....'Baby Grand' has arrived!

I will be ranting about Monrovia's new selections for 2010 and I've decided to start off with this intriguing selection of the popular Southern Magnolia, one of my most favorite landscape trees.

Magnolia grandiflora
'Little Gem' has been highly utilized in landscape specs and designs as it seemed to be the only "dwarf" Southern Magnolia out there. The problem is, however, it isn't really as dwarf as designers want them to be. As a landscape tree, it won't reach the 70ft. potential of the standard M. grandiflora, but it still gets quite large at 20ft.+.

So for 2010, we are supposed to look out for Magnolia 'Baby Grand'. A selection from Australia, it's suppose to be the Southern Magnolia "you have always wanted to have, but couldn't because you don't have the room".

So, it looks to be a tidy and compact plant that is supposed to be 8-10ft. tall. I'm sure container gardeners will be flocking for it as well.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Instant container gardens at Costco!

So, they're selling these preplanted evergreen containers at Costco during this holiday mad rush, but they don't seem to be moving that quickly. They're pretty well done, just not flashy enough, maybe? For under $30, its quite a steal.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Double Lilies and Hots for Hostas!

As the new year approaches, I get super stoked about the arrival of plant catalogs. I don't know about some folks, but I still LOVE getting them in the mail; thumbing through and highlighting selections I probably could never afford to buy has always been a favorite pastime. hehe

It has also acted as a "heads up" when it came to new plant introductions I should be aware of. I always seem to savor the excitement of seeing a new plant, but over the years, I've become immediately critical of anything new that I see. Suddenly, the serious plantsman in me begins to question its origins, its market potential, its trial process, how it could be utilized in the landscape and if I'm infatuated enough, I find ways to somehow secure a sample so I can grow it myself or often times, I immediately seek out a "plug source" so I can be one of the first in the region to offer a plant.

Plant market can be very competitive and nurseries are always striving to have something new and exclusive. As a small hobby nursery, it's impossible to keep up with the surge of new plants if you don't have the resources to grow them on. However, being the plant nut that I am trying to stay on top of everything I'm exposed to in terms of plants, I can't help going through these catalogs and almost predicting what people might be after (both beginners and seasoned avid gardeners).

Many of you know that I'm a big fan of lilies and Hostas. Upon recent web searches, here are some must haves on my list:

B & D Lilies
I've known Bob and Dianna since I was 13 years old and I've worked with them at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show for a few years. They bring a wide assortment of exciting lily hybrids and some of the best bulbs in the industry. Over the years, they've started to diversify and offer other plants such as peonies and Eucomis, but the lily hybrids are their specialty and they have some notable selections I'm eager to try:

Double-flowered Orientals:
Now, I'm completely enamored by these, but I've yet to grow them successfully. I tried a wide selection last spring, but with the terrible heat and poor irrigation, not one flowered for me, but I'm still eager to try!

Here's a brand new one called 'Lodewijk' I don't have yet. It looks so full and so out of this lily world!

Here's the ethereal 'Davyd' meainging "beloved". The bloom is absolutely breathtaking.

The problems I've had with doubles is their inability to open properly under my garden conditions. I've yet to figure out why, but I have my suspicions: not enough water, too much sun, poorly amended soil, but the fact that I've struggled with a variety called 'Miss Lucy' (the first of the double Orientals to be introduced) for years now, I'm hesitant about recommending these other doubles, but they're so irresistibly different and exotic.

Here's one I HIGHLY recommend that I got last year and was most impressed with. It is an Asiatic hybrid called 'Netty's Pride'


Naylor Creek
Gary and Jack have also known me for years and their hostas and shade plants are almost unparalleled in terms of variety and quality. Here are some plants I'm being tempted by:

I'm a fan of the classic blue hosta cultivar called, 'Halcyon'. It has produced one of my most favorite varieties called 'June' which has a gold/chartreuse center and now comes 'Blue Ivory'.
Nice wide margins on what I hope is a strong plant that doesn't burn at the edges.

'Fragrant Queen'
I'm a sucker for fragrance and this looks to be very promising. Excellent foliage and consistent fragrant blooms in late summer.

The red-petiole cultivars are much sought after by collectors and even novice gardeners are beginning to take notice and even wonder if a "RED HOSTA" will ever be bred. Here's an attempted with one called 'The Razor's Edge'.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A temporary home for the winter

A colleague's greenhouse that I'm renting to overwinter some of my nursery stock! I could have easily filled this greenhouse, but I didn't want to seem too greedy! lol

Friday, December 11, 2009

A plug for public television

Some of you know that I did a little brand story with our local public television station, KCTS 9. I don't know if you read this post from July.

I've had a copy of the DVD for awhile, but I just now managed to format it so I could post it on the web.

Hope it gets people's attention to support quality television that raised me growing up!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yes, it's cold....moving on!!

Yes, I'm freezing my bum off. Yes, I stressed about bringing in plants and running out of room. Yes, I'm freaking out about being unable to work on certain projects. It happens every year; I really should be putting my energy elsewhere.

Since Thanksgiving, I've overcome another episode of the cold/flu and done just about everything in my power to ensure that my prized potted specimens are safely protected from the sub-freezing temperatures we've been experiencing here in the Puget Sound area.

Sometimes I kick myself for having too many potted plants to winter over and having a diverse selection of them that seem to have different requirements and treatments. A large greenhouse of my very own would solve my dilemmas, but, yet again I go another year without having one constructed. I rent space at work and I have a colleague and former student who's letting me use her vacant, unheated greenhouse.

Perhaps it's the ongoing resilience of plants that continues to amaze me when I see them frozen out in the garden. Over the years, I've learned not to panic about many of my plants having a better understanding of what they endure at a cellular level.

Think of broadleaved evergreens such as this Rhododendron and Daphniphyllum, for example. The foliage has slowly acclimated to the cooling temperature and once we reach freezing temperatures, they get frosted and become almost like plant-popsicles. The plant's foliage curl up, look dessicated and appear to be goners. However, they've actually reached a state where water movement between cells slows down considerably, sugars become concentrated and the plant remains in somewhat of a dormant state until temperatures SLOWLY begin to warm up and metabolic processes resume. Often the danger is when plants are "warmed up" too fast and suddenly struck by freezing temperatures again. Plant cells walls burst at this point and plant tissues are damaged.

Rhododendron fortunei frozen Daphiphyllum frozen

Of course plants will respond in all sorts of other ways because of where they came from and what they're genetically programmed to withstand in terms of stress.

This Euphorbia, for example, will probably die down to the ground and simply come back up in the spring when temperatures allow.

Frosted Euphorbia

Stay warm, everyone!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

My lovely butterflies in flight

If there was ever an iconic flower that represented my love and passion for the rare and exotic, it would have to be the fleeting flowers of the regal Hippeastrum papilio, dubbed as "The Butterfly Amaryllis".

Hippeastrum papilio 08

You can read about it on my website about where it comes from and how to grow it, but I've been infatuated with this amaryllid ever since I first saw it on a Wayside Gardens catalog many many years ago. They hyped it up so much in their catalog as being exceedingly rare and a new species to cultivation. I saved up my allowance to purchase a single bulb 15 years ago and over the past few years, I've tried to order some in to sell or pot up to showcase and display them when they flower because they are absolutely a sight to behold.

Bpeaking of butterflies, I'm again reminded of something that personifies this beautiful creature. This time, it's a piece of music I fell in love with after watching Chen Lu, a former world champion and two-time Olympic medalist from China, skated to a Chinese folk piece called "The Butterfly Lovers". It's a famous story of forbidden love, much like "Romeo & Juliet", from China that's also a full violin concerto I tried to learn when I was still actively playing the violin in high school.

Have a listen:

While we're at it, here's Lu Lu's performance at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games:

I had a chance to meet Chen Lu when I was in China in 2005. I actually got to skate and get a lesson with her (my first time in a Olympic Size rink!)

Riz and Lulu 1