Wednesday, March 31, 2010

For the ultimate garden geek: The Miller Library Book Sale!!!

Each time I pass by the library at work this week, I see an ever growing stack of books in the conference room and librarian Martha Ferguson diligently sorting through each title to place it in its proper category.

As our hort community is known for its never-ending plant sales just about every weekend from now on, this is pretty much the only garden book sale in our region and it amazes me each year to see the remarkable selection of books they have available! From bulbs, vegetable gardening, perennials, landscape design, and specific genera of plants, the Garden Lover's Book Sale totally has something for the green thumb in all of us and you can find some really great deals.


From the Miller Library website:

What: A used book sale fund raiser and all around FUN TIME!

Where: In the Merrill Hall Commons, Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA, 98195. Map.

Why: to RAISE MONEY to buy new books by selling donated books that are not needed because the library already owns a copy.

When: The wine and cheese PREVIEW PARTY is Friday, April 2 from 5 - 8pm; tickets cost $20 in advance. The free book sale is Saturday, April 3 from 9am to 3pm

To buy Preview Party ticket call 206-543-0415; Visa & Master card accepted.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ethereal Blue Amaryllis

When I was a sophomore during my undergrad, I volunteered at the UW Botany Greenhouse. This place was my destination in between classes, during breaks and I might have skipped a lecture or two just so I could putter around and be surrounded by the tremendous collection of beautiful plants from around the world. From the arid desert house, the cool temperate rain forest and the tropical rooms, oh, of course, the research rooms were always filled with interesting projects and experiments.

One of my projects was my acquisition of seed from a rare and endangered plant. Dubbed as the "blue amaryllis", Worseleya procera (often and formerly referred to as W. rayneri) captivated me. After seeing these photos on a website, I learned what I could about these magnificent plants and when an opportunity to obtain seed from New Zealand presented itself. I jumped at the chance to grow this beauty.

Almost salivating and heart-stopping, isn't it??

I asked if I could use the greenhouse to sow the 6 seeds I acquired and tried various treatments and growing media based on the literature that was available at the time. Germination turned out to be a piece of cake:

Worselya Tray 2

Growing the plants on, however, was the challenge as reports always stressed specific cultural requirements and high losses following germination. The key to preserving any rare and endangered species is to attempt to recreate it's natural habitat. The "Empress of Brazil", as this bulb is often known, is found growing on full exposed, steep, rocky granite slopes of the Organ Mountains on the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil.

We carefully babied the young seedlings and potted them up gradually.

Worsleya seedlings 1


Since I graduated, I feel kind of bad leaving these guys behind for the greenhouse staff to take care of, but the ideal conditions and occasional attention have resulted in plants I simply couldn't believe.

Riz with Worsleya

Worsleya procera plants
This plant could be on the verge of blooming. Boy, will I go ballistic when they do!!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A lesson in planting...

I had such a fun time visiting with my good friend, Joyce a few weeks ago. She emailed requesting some advice on their yard in Bellevue and I was more than happy to pay her a visit, catch up and see what we could do for them as she and her husband tackle the challenges of a new home and landscape. While the house is under control, they've started to putter around in the yard. (yes, being the cheap bastard I can be, I offered my services to them as a wedding gift....hahhah). So, we met up, Joyce prepared me a yummy lunch and so began our consultation.

Somewhat embarrassed by some of the pruning work they've done, it actually wasn't all that bad. I demonstrated proper pruning cuts and how to thin out some of the rambunctious shrubs that were plunged into their yard shortly before they moved in and we did a bit of planting as I brought her some plants including springs bulbs to perk up their front yard.

Joyce Plants DaffodilsHere, I taught her how to knock a plant out of its pot. Spreading her fingers through the stem and leaves, she turned the pot upside down and let gravity do the work. If this were a pot-bound plant, a light tap of the rim will help loosen it.

Joyce Plants Cornus

Knowing Joyce since high school (she was actually my prom date!), we never really, like, gardened together and I was mighty impressed at her inquisitive questions and her mean digging skills as she dug a planting hole in glacial till for the yellow-twig dogwood!!

Joyce Plants Dogwoods (2)

We discussed the difference between mulch and the native soil during planting. I stressed the importance of getting the roots of a woody tree or shrub in direct contact with the native soil without having to amend the planting hole.

Joyce Plants Dogwoods

Because Joyce is naturally brilliant (she's a pharmacist at Children's, btw), she remembered from early biology classes that tree roots really expand out rather than go directly down. So, she didn't mind digging a wider planting hole to accommodate the spread-out roots system of a baby Cornus 'Hedgerow's Gold'.

Here's what she can expect: Hmm...maybe I should hook her up with the Clematis, too!

A Blue N Gold

I think watching Joyce "dig" what she was doing was the most satisfying part. She and Pat now know the hidden potential of their garden and how to oversee it; it's going to be an ongoing process and I think they'll understand that and not feel like it's going to be a tedious chore, but a relaxing and rewarding weekend activity for both of them.

Joyce Plants Tulips

I hope they also know that I'll be in touch for more advice and to hook them up with some more awesome plants!

Officially Spring!

What a tremendous weekend for gardening. Even though I had to work, I managed a few hours in the garden and some progress on a redesign of Landwave.

I kick myself for not getting an opportunity to work in my own garden, but at the same time, I'm fully aware that I've really bitten more than I can chew. It's totally my fault for knowing that I already have a lot of my plate, but I often let others dictate what my priorities are and I'm getting a little fed up with it.

The potential of the garden can be tremendous, but I can't move at the pace I'd like to get everything I want accomplished. Yes, I could use more help, but my garden should be a reflection of my own work and efforts.

As I tear up the garden for this redesign, there are individual highlights intact that I made sure to take the time and fully admire this weekend:

Tulipa MuscariPart of the redesign involves the removal of this planting scheme I installed just two years ago with Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Ancilla' planting in a drift with Muscari armeniacum. With ornamental grasses left intact over the winter, it is a simple yet dramatic and easy to care for perennial display. It's absolutely lovely to see this tulip open, close, and open again. The eventual sea of blue compliments the cream colored blooms with deep orange and yellow centers and red reverses. These bulbs are reliable perennials if they are dead-headed, allowed to die down properly and not eaten by pesky rodents. Just bummed that I have to carefully transplant these while in active growth and bloom.

Asian Pear Blossoms
One tree I wasn't able to move in time is my combo Asian Pear tree that's already in full bloom this weekend. I never noticed how stinky their flowers are, but oh the plentiful fruit they produce!

Muscari Golden Fragrance
On the other side of the scent spectrum is a sweet little Muscari called 'Golden Fragrance'. It has been in the ground for 3 years now and has survived the dryish soil and neglect after it bloom each spring. You have to kneel down to really admire them, but you're in for a treat when you bring your nose close to it!

Epimedium sp
Epimediums are a tad early this season with many already budded up and blooming including this stunning species from China. Epimedium aff. franchetii.

Lily bulb divisions
Time's really running out in terms of my window to transplant things, but I'm still going for it. Here's a large clump of lilies I dug and divided and some plants, like herbaceous peonies, will hate being moved at this time, but they don't have much of a choice. I can just get them potted up or replanted ASAP and hope for the best this year.
Paeonia coming up

I'll fill you in on my redesign and more spring highlights to come. Stay tuned and enjoy!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Love thy daffodils!

I took part in my first plant sale of the season last Friday and, ya know, it was a bit disappointing. After months of dealing with critter eaten bulbs, unforgiving freezes and thaws, I scrambled together what I could; worked overtime to get labels and my signage (which was a running powerpoint slideshow vs. actual signs that I just did not have time to put together) and I hardly made anything.

I tried my best to present a selection of spring bulbs and in full bloom, right on queue, were these handsome daffs:

Narcissus Jack Snipe with Jetfire Narcissus 'Jack Snipe' is a Great Plant Pick and is known for it's vigor and reliability. It is also gently fragrant and naturally handsome.

Narcissus Jetfire Narcissus 'Jetfire' is an absolute star with a bright yellow perianth and a rich orange tubular corona. It is also tough-as-nails; it can naturalize and reliably come back year after year.

Narcissus canaliculatus Narcissus canaliculatus. A not often grown species that I just adore for its short stature and exquisitely sweet perfume!

One would assume that these blooming beauties would go flying off the table at $3.50 for a multi-nosed bulb in a 4" pot or an instant clump of 5 bulbs in a gallon pot for $10.00. Out of all the blooming daffodils I grew and brought, I sold 2 or 3. That's all.

I had some other things like species tulip hyrbids (a future blog entry) and early season perennials, but the daffodils just did not budge. And it wasn't like they were pasted their peak. All the pots are still loaded with buds ready to burst into bloom!

Now to find homes for these. I have them in the garden already!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Needing a little Tropicalismo: A grand new addition to the garden.

Who just gives away a healthy, fairly large specimen of a hardy Chinese Windmill Palm?! My gardening friend and colleague, Bridget Lamp, who's looking to focus on more edibles in her small South Seattle garden (visit her blog!), hit me up and I'm now the proud owner of an outstanding specimen that stands proudly in front of Landwave! Thanks to another colleague of mine, Crane Stavig, a landscaper and former student of mine who has his own landscaping/nursery business called Greencliff Landscape Co. we were able to dig it out, haul it onto his pick up and drop it off in Shoreline.


Ok, so I put together a little video montage of this process. Check it out and feel free to offer some more detailed advice on transplanting a palm for everyone to learn!



The Anti-Social Houseplant.

I went to get some balikbayan boxes for my mom and at the travel office, they had this potted houseplant that gave me a little chuckle.

Some plants just don't want any of scram! LOL!

I asked if I could take a picture and they laughed as I inquired why they labeled the pot so.

"People keep wanting to touch it to see if it's real or not!"

It is in fact real and a plant that really doesn't need much attention when it comes to care just as long it's sited properly in the home.

This is Zamioculcas zamiifolia, a popular tropical indoor plant from eastern Africa that's often referred to as "Zanzibar Gem" or the "ZZ" plant. It tolerates variable light conditions and prefers to be on the dry side. It can be easy to kill for the overzealous waterer or occasional passer-by'er who just has to get-up-all-in dis plant's business, yo. hhahahah

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Lenten Rose Parade has begun!

WOWEEEEE!! Check out this selection of Helleborus x hybridus hybrids available these days. It's really amazing how far they've come in just a few years. Leading the way are the stupendous hybrids of Ernie and Marietta O'byrne of Northwest Garden Nursery. Their Winter Jewels Series are just exquisite with exceptional color and form.

I've raved about their hellebores before and, to be honest, I really can't get enough of them; I just can't afford to buy them for myself retail, but I REALLY CAN'T GET ENOUGH of seeing them on the nursery tables at Wells Medina Nursery and observing the subtle details of the dazzling array they offer. I still remember when the deep purples and blacks were all the rage, a true clean yellow was so illusive, and a messy double form commanded your attention and an additional zero at the end of each check issued.

Since 1992, the O'byrnes have sought out the best forms from the best and most meticulous breeders around the world to generate a genetic pool that yielded the most promising hybrids.

So, check this out this list of their color groups with an example of each. Keep in mind that these are seed strains so there will be variations, but each cross is very controlled so color can pretty much be guaranteed:

Yellow Apricot soft purple streaksApricot Blush
Black Slate PurpleBlack Diamond

Pink Purple AnemoneCherry Blossom

Clear Yellow StrainGolden Sunrise

Jade StarPhoto from NW Garden Nursery website.

Mahogany SpottedPainted

OMG, and then there are the doubles!!! I've always been a fan of double flowered plants, but some people think they're messy mutants that don't have a place in the garden, but I just tell them to shut up and marvel at these magical specimens

Soft Yellow Pink Picotee doubleAmber Gem

Double Deep Purple spottedBerry Swirl

Cotton Candy Photo from NW Garden Nursery website.

Double Painted Photo from NW Garden Nursery website.

Double light yellowGolden Lotus

Harlequin Gem Photo from NW Garden Nursery website.

Double Green Double spottedJade Tiger

Double Deep Purple 2Onyx Odyssey

Intense Pink PicoteePeppermint Ice

Sparkling Diamond Photo from NW Garden Nursery website.

As gorgeous as all these are, I've been quite critical of many of these hybrids and one trait I sort of dislike about Hellebores is the fact that most of them FACE DOWN! I'm having to lift every single flower to observe and admire them. I've been wanting people to try them as permanent hanging basket plants as shown here:


While some hybrids are getting closer to being more outfacing, I will be most excited when we have an upfacing hybrid! But for now we must kneel, lift and admire Helleborus OR admire the reverses of the sepals with markings that are quite interesting.

Soft Yellow pink blush undersides Underside observation



Thursday, March 4, 2010

New TV Gardening Series: "Growing A Greener World"

So, I've said it before: television is often my outlet to the world and it raised me growing up! Luckily, most of the programs I watched were on PBS. With my sentimental favorite, The Victory Garden, paving the way towards many of my horticultural interests, I'm anxious for the upcoming series called "Growing A Greener World".

I've actually met the two hosts of this series through the Garden Writer's Association so it's pretty cool to see colleagues on television. It almost feels like I'll kind of be rooting them to do well! As fellow garden communicators, we follow our hearts to share an interest, a passion and a profession we care so deeply about. We're all sort of on the same boat in a way and I sincerely hope this series takes off and we have a strong following of avid gardeners, both beginners to professionals, to encourage and inspire.

So here's a little tidbit from The Urban Sustainable Living website you can check out.

I already get the feeling that it will encompass a wide range of various topics and maybe not so much focused on plants as much as I'd like, but again, it's all about the message we're trying to get across. The main objective is to hook people in and then we can teach the specifics (ie plants, planting, design,). It's all about awareness, as well. The more people begin to realize that there are environmental impacts to a lot of what they do, the more they can feel compelled to change their ways and, perhaps, make a difference in the world.

My best to Joe and Patti! Rock it, you two!


A winter Chilean treasure

While we read or watch the coverage of the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile (and its multiple aftershocks), I am reminded of the many botanical treasures this country has given us. In the winter landscape, one plant that often gets overlooked (if people even know what it is!) is the airy Azara microphylla.

Azara microphylla

Doesn't look all that flashy and exciting, does it? Well, if you were a plant nut, you'd appreciate it's deep green, glossy foliage. It is evergreen and the texture it can add to any landscape is much sought after as it makes an exceptional upright background plant. The draw to the casual gardener or anyone who happens to encounter this plant in late winter are the almost inconspicuous, axillary flowers that permeate the air with a mouthwatering aroma of vanilla and white chocolate. SERIOUSLY! Come to my garden and smell them! hahah

For something similar, but flashier, a variegated form does exist! =P