Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Overwhelmed Gardener. Part 3: The King Country Master Gardener's Sale

Another plant sale is upon us and it's another big event. In terms of number of vendors, it's considerably smaller than Florabundance, but the show the Master Gardener's put on is quite remarkable. They certainly make a weekend of it with various booths, tents, organized activities for kids, and various workshops and classes the public can take part in.

The King County Master Gardener's have been facing tough times as funding continues to be an ongoing issue for this well known and highly respected organization. It's essentially on the same page as everyone else trying to garner as much support as possible.

While I'm not vending at this sale, I contributed by designing a container for their raffle and donating a gift certificate to my nursery. Yes, another time consuming effort, but I certainly enjoyed putting the composition together and, hopefully, people like my work enough to hire me to do something similiar for them. I think it's also an outlet for me to show off, I guess. haha

Master Gardener's Raffle Container
Noticed I used that Mahonia 'Soft Caress' once again. =)

I had extra plants and since I was debating which container to use, I potted up both since I had enough plant material. This second piece went to my sister's house in West Seattle.

Late April Containers

They hold the raffle on Sunday so I guess there's still a chance to see my container in person, but support the Master Gardeners and the many local vendors who have once again come out to showcase their best plants for all to see, admire and add to their growing landscapes.

Visit their website here for directions and more information!

It's time to really get some work done outside our own homes!! Just be sure to visit the sale first and with the location being at the Center for Urban Horticulture, see the gardens and get inspired!



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's in a name: "GAGA"?

Pop culture has never really coincided with horticulture all that much, but I thought it’d be interesting to bring the two together in the hopes that I can somehow attract someone from my generation who might not really know or care about plants to have a second look and say, “WTF?”

Lady Gaga has probably been the most intriguing pop icon to inundate the media and garner the attention of many with her wild and abstract sense of fashion and persona. Her music is annoyingly catchy and it’s her constant reinventing of herself that makes her unique, yet so incredibly attractive to the masses.

When I watch some of her music videos, television appearances, and images from photo shoots, I can’t help but compare her to some of the weirdest, most exotic flora. Whether it’s her hair, her outfits, or her make-up, certain images in the landscape seem to come to mind.


I’ve always thought that if Lady Gaga were a plant, she’d be an Arisaema. Bizarre, unusual, sexually suggestive and ambiguous, her “disco stick” is the spadix, duh!

Like topiary, hair is easily shaped and formed to whatever your heart desires. She just happens to find inspiration from either the manicured confines of a Japanese garden with prized specimens of pine or maple bonsai or the mysteries of the wild forest where the white capped Volvariella bombycina mushroom seeks attention.


At last year’s VMA’s, Lady Gaga performed her hit “Paparazzi” and caused quite a stir as she graphically portrayed the consequences of what the media can almost do to a rock superstar. She also created an image that reminded me of a new plant I grew last year that didn’t garner nearly as much attention besides a handful of avid gardeners.


Oh I could go on comparing her to various orchids and alien-like carnivorous plants; perhaps another time.

Studio’s callin’…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Overwhelmed Gardener. Part 2 Florabundance

Another weekend plant sale, this time I'm actually vending. It's the night before and here I am making last minute signs and labels for this weekend's Florabundance Spring Plant Sale.

I don't know if it was the high of last weekend's Hardy Plant Society of Oregon sale and the visit to Cistus and all, but I'm not all that looking forward to this sale. I'm not sure if it's the 60/40 split that's really bugging me or my limited palette of plant material to offer; perhaps it's both.

Florabundance has always held a special place in my heart as it was the first plant sale I ever took part in and I've known some of the vendors for many many years. Many have really seen me grow up at this plant sale and over the years, many have looked forward to my unique selections of plants. I guess I feel like I wasn't able to reach the standard I set for myself having visited many nurseries. The quality of my plant material should be much better!

In this tough economic climate, I guess the 60/40 split (60% to the vendors and 40% to the Arboretum Foundation) has really gotten to me. When I first started, it was a fairly reasonable 70/30, but now it seems like all the hard work in propagating and growing on these plants is essentially a huge donation of my time every time I take part in a plant sale here in the Puget Sound area. While I fully support these organizations and truly glad that the funds go towards programs and causes I care about, I'm losing money and not really progressing or moving forward with my life and business as I'm not really able to save up and allocate funds towards travel, for example, or a collecting expedition abroad. Heck, I don't really have any funds to even think about pursuing an advanced degree like I always say I'll do, but haven't really made a serious effort to either take a class or check out schools and programs I might be interested in enrolling.

Instead, I'm struggling to make sure I find work and keep a small nursery alive in the hopes that things I grow and produce are sold. I know I haven't been the best businessman and I've relied on these plant sales to get me out there, but I've come to realize that I really can't continue this.

Something has to change. As much as I love this plant sale, the wonderful people I get to see, and the great assortment of plants we offer to the public, it's getting harder and harder each year.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's AMAZING Plant Sale

My oh my, what a great weekend! Long drive down, but so incredibly worth it. I've heard so much about the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon and their well known plant sales I made sure to come down to not only check out the sale and buy a few plants, but to also pay my friends a visit.

One of the most "put together" horticultural organizations (from what I've heard), the HPSO shared the Oregon Expo Center with a large indoor garage sale and gun show. Luckily, they weren't all held in the same hall so avid gardeners could safely and obsessively shop for some of the finest plants I've ever witnessed in one plant sale.

HPSO Banner

It was a true horticultural show with cut specimens of plants on display, a information booth staffed by professional gardeners to offer their advice to anyone who may have a question or need a quick recommendation for a plant and the volunteer effort was outstanding overall.

My friends at Cistus Nursery got me in early so I had an opportunity to shop before the hoards of crowds, but I spent that morning taking photographs, a few video clips and ooh'ing and ahh'ing at the wonderful things I witnessed.

Plant Sale View 1

The crowds were crazy, as they should be, but even with the best of the best flying off the tables, there was still plenty of fabulous selections even for the most discerning gardener who might have arrived later in the day.

Box on Head
There are some really hardcore shoppers out there, but for the most part, there are no old lady fights or such similar quarrels.

Peonies and clematis combo
There's no doubt that the plants took center stage and the compositions some of these vendors put together were just exquisite!

PC Iris with Golden Ribes 1
Anything with gold foliage showed remarkably well and the two of these paired together was quite dramatic (golden-leafed flowering currant and a deep blue PC (Pacific Coast) iris hybrid!

Iris PCI Drip Drop
Speaking of PCIs, this one was a stunner! Still kicking myself for not buying it. Oh well, next time. This one's called 'Drip Drop'.

Trillium grandiflorum Flore-pleno
One of the rarest plants to be offered at this spring's sale is the double flowered Trillium grandiflorum. These were selling for $75 for a single-nosed rhizome.

Aesculus Lunar Patches
Now, I've only seen variegated horse chestnuts in books and on the internet, but to see it in person and realize that it actually exists was thrilling. This selection is aptly dubbed 'Lunar Patches'.

Cistus booth ladies shopping
Over by the Cistus Nursery tables, swarms of people drooled over the many wonderful things they offered.

Sean and Nathan with cards
Nursery manager Nathan Limprecht shows owner, Sean Hogan, just how many tickets he's acquired as each one represented one full box of plants in the hold area!! You can see it in their faces, it was such a fun time for everyone.

Schefflera delavayi for sale
One of the highlights of their superb selection is their batch of the elusive, hardy and rare Schefflera delavayi. Sure, you may be paying $32 for a one gallon pot with, essentially, a seedling with just a few leaves, but the wait for this extraordinary plant has been so long, it was just exciting to see it finally out here for people to plant.

Remember what this plant will look like:

Schefflera delavayi landscape

So, here's my humble haul. Got a few things for myself and few things for clients.

Riz Purchase

I went nuts on a few Epimediums, got some Melianthus and ferns for a client....
sigh...more pics own my Flicker page.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scents of Memories Past

A colleague of mine in Tasmania sent me this link about Dan Hinkley and some of the things he's reminded of when he smells certain plants and other random items. Check out the article here. Then I asked him where his profile was only to be told that he'll show his if I show him mine. Well, here you go, Eric:

In no particular order:

Bleach (or according to Blanche Devereaux of "The Golden Girls", "Blee-Ack")

Never really used it when I did the laundry, but I would always ruin certain clothes mixing up a 10% solution with water to sterilize garden tools, pots, divided iris rhizomes and dahlia tubers, and to spray down the laminar flow hood when tissue culturing in lab.


Many perennial roots and bulb orders (mainly Lilium) arrive packed in sawdust or wood shavings. Every fall and early spring, I open packages awaiting that woody scent.


It's the combination of cilantro, thai basil and a warm beef broth that always makes me crave this popular noodle soup almost every week. It's also an occasion to be with others and catch up on life happenings.

Sampaguita (Arabian Jasmine Jasminum sambac)

The captivating scent of this heavenly flower holds such significance as it has been the symbol of my life and culture ever since I was a young boy who would race with his big sister to see who could wake up the earliest to pick the most flower buds to string into a lei to place in our altar of the Santo Niño. To me the scent of this jasmine reminds me of my fondest memories of my homeland and the feelings evoked as a symbol of purity, innocence, and never-ending love and compassion.


Lord, I had this addiction to Vicks Vapo-Rub when I was a wee lad. Even though I wasn't sick, I still enjoyed the scent of menthol and eucalyptus so I'd always rub a small amount by my nostrils. Now, I've come to hate the smell because it reminds me of being ill with a cold, flu or sinus infection. I'd rather just grow the Eucalyptus.

Fragrant Novelty Phalaenopsis

When I learned that the popular and easy to grow moth orchid came in different shapes, forms and SCENTS, I was immediately captivated when I smelled my first fragrant Phal. I began a collection of species and hybrids a few years ago, but I no longer had the time or the best conditions to raise them.

Phal bellina
Phalaenopsis bellina

Phalaenopsis violacea and bellina are the most fragrant of the genus and their hybrids possess the refreshingly sweet citrus-like scent.

A hybrid aptly named Phal. Sweet Memory.


I had an obsession with old garden roses in my early teens and I was captivated when i discovered the hybrid English Roses bred by David Austin. Breeding those once-blooming, but oh so beautiful and exceedingly fragrant and disease resistant, garden roses with today's reblooming forms and diverse colors was like magic to me.
When I first encountered English roses in person, I was enchanted by the scent of several varieties that, oddly reminded me of church or a funeral.
The rose above is a classic English rose called 'Constance Spry'. While it doesn't have the reblooming capabilities of others, it is richly scented and one I always distinctly remember. here's an article on Myrrh-scented roses.

Drakkar Noir

My brother's choice cologne growing up, yet I never really got tired of it (as I sneaked in a spray or two when I was little). It's so distinctive, masculine, yet sensual and sophisticated. I consider it my "back-up" cologne for that special occasion. I have my own personal favorite cologne, but I will keep that to myself. haha

And I can't write an article without mentioning the exotically rich and somewhat overpowering perfume of Oriental lilies. No need to rant on why, but it certainly began my strong interests in this genus.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quick lunch update as I head home....

So, I’m scarfing down a Pepper Bacon Cheeseburger with rosemary shoestring potatoes for lunch as I continue to treat myself after a short, but fun-filled weekend with the boys down in Portland for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon’s spring plant sale.
I can’t even begin to tell you just how incredibly ecstatic I was to be at that sale yesterday. It was hardy plant HEAVEN! I was in the midst of colorful clouds with all the shades, textures, and forms of green as far as the eye can see; just about every flower that comes to the imagination was in bloom and angels, a humble yet enthusiastic host of angels, that warmed my heart as the endless embrace from friends and colleagues seemed to come out of nowhere.

While I have to run, I promise photos and more stories and the many reasons why I absolutely LOVE what I do as a plantsman and horticulturist.

Please stay tuned.


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Overwhelmed Gardener. Part 1: HPSO Plant Sale

Good lord, it's that time of year...

How the heck does one choose which talk, which class, which plant sale, which fund-raiser, which garden tour to attend out of the seemingly endless events on the Pacific Northwest Hort Calendar!

As great as they all are and as much as I'd like to attend, support and take part, there's just waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too many.

Over the years, I've learned to accept that fact and selected events that either:

-Allow me to sell plants and make money.
-Present myself to a new audience to broaden my professional network.
-Support a cause and organization that I really care about.
-Have the largest, most varied selection of plant material

and somewhere near the top of my list, I commit to events that have the largest congregation of my friends and colleagues.

Most of these events are, technically, work for me and since they often occur in the weekends, I really must have a break to catch up with others, share stories and regain that joy and excitement of being among great people and a wide assortment of great plants for anyone to purchase and bring that joy and excitement back home with them!

Starting this weekend, here's an event I've actually never been to, yet have heard so much about:

April 17-18: Hardy Plant Society of Oregon Plant Sale. Portland, OR

So I'm driving down for three hours to hit up a plant sale. Time that could be spent in my garden and nursery, but instead I'm attending the largest gathering of specialty nurseries from Oregon and Washington and put on by an organization that is so well known in our region. It seems like it's the sale that EVERYONE attends, which happens to include many many friends.

Oh, it'll be total plant geek weekend!

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Knowing the Spring" and the Seattle Chinese Garden

I recently paid a visit to the evolving Seattle Chinese Garden just North of the South Seattle Community College campus in West Seattle. Gardener, Aaron Skinner, showed me around the existing Song Mei Pavilion and the frame work of a new courtyard dubbed "Knowing the Spring". I've been commissioned to acquire and grow plants for the new courtyard and I've also helped them gather donations to enhance the plantings around Song Mei.

DSC02884 DSC02877

Here's a glimpse of the future courtyard that will bear Landwave's plants:


This is a remarkable undertaking and the head of the horticulture sub-committee, Jan Whitner, is ecstatic about the upcoming year as artisans from Chongqing and Sichuan will be arriving to work on the courtyard and planting may begin as early as this fall!

For more information about the garden and how you may be able to contribute, visit their website. They have a work party coming up on April 18th that should be fun and productive.

In fund-raising efforts for the first ever Sichuan style Chinese Garden outside of China, I contributed my time and Chinese-native plants for a container design to the highest bidder in an auction that took place last fall.

I think it turned out well:

Sichuan Plantings Container adjust Sichuan Plantings Container close up

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why I love spring...

Even with the never-ending work load and constant demands for my time that appear out of nowhere, I love what spring has to bring and offer the gardener. It's a time of emergence, a time of unexpected surprises, and a reinvigorated spirit within oneself that is eager to explore the sumptuous bounty of nature's ethereal magic as the season unfurls before our eyes.

My infatuation with the species tulips

Though the cause of my anger and frustration as they've been devoured by mice and squirrels this winter and spring, the bold survivors pulled through to produce a show that makes me weak and compelled to place another early season pre-order for bulbs to be delivered this fall.

I've raved about Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Ancilla' in previous posts, but there's still a few beginning to bloom and a few more to follow in the next couple of weeks.

Tulipa Juan
Tulipa 'Juan' (Fosteriana type)
Think intense, sultry, and undeniably hot; these are words not typically used to describe spring's delicately innocent flowers, but one look of this seductively sexy tulip and you're at a lost for words. Fiery orange with a hint of warm yellow and the cooling calm foliage with just the faintest hint of clean, purple-gray lines for a somewhat understated, but compelling presence. Yeah.....that was a little over top. AAAANNNNYWAY....pretty tulip.

Tulipa Little Beauty portrait (2)
Tulipa 'Little Beauty'
Certainly living up to its name, this little charmer is the cutest thing to pop out of the garden in mid-April as the cherry red blossoms pop open to reveal a faint blue center, painted black markings and a halo of violet-pink.

Tulipa praestans Unicum book cover
Tulipa praestans 'Unicum'
Often mistaken for an emerging hosta, this unusual tulip looks great all spring as the pale green leaves are gilded with a wide creamy margin and out of nowhere, pops a intensely red bud that, to the surprise of many who encounter it, is just one of several buds on this multi-flowering species.

Being able grow and nurture these lovely gems is certainly gratifying, but to be able to share springs vibrant color and blooms with others is wonderfully fulfilling.

On Easter Sunday, I asked my oldest niece, Alex, to help me carry my flats of unsold daffodils to my brothers house. I asked her to cut the flowers to put in a vase to decorate the dinner table.

Alex with Daffodils

My youngest nephew, Jean Paolo, peeked out the window wondering what we were doing and insisted that he take part.

Alex and Pao with daffodils

So he did and carefully arranged them in the vase. =)

Pao with daffodils 2

Spring is certainly a time where, as the weather improves, everyone gathers. The past few weeks have included barbecues, family get-togethers (more than usual), garden work and potting parties, and the occasional bonfire or two.

DSC02948At a local pea-patch in Seattle.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a cozy get together with several of the graduate students at CUH. Not only were they fun people to be around with, they were also avid gardeners. Even at night I enjoyed perusing the wood chip paths to see their perennial and vegetable beds, but what compelled me most was the humble gathering of people surrounding a warm and welcoming fire.

With a simple burning fire (and firewood they've dubbed as "PANTS"), I am so enthused to design my garden around one.

Pants at Kathleens

Even if for myself, it's so incredibly relaxing and, hey, should the right person come along, it could even be quite romantic.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dumb, Riz, dumb! Forgot lilies in cold storage and well....yeah. I hope they green up properly.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Whoa...who knew??!!

So, I've been using this Cordyline x 'Jurred' (Festival Grass™ ) for container work and decided to overwinter them in our conservatory at UW Botanic Gardens. A few days ago, I was noticing an unusual scent filling the air and wouldn't you know, this plant actually decided to flower and it has a interesting fragrance that reminds me of an orchid species I've encountered before!

Cordyline Festival Grass blooming Cordyline Festival Grass flower detail

It's quite a pretty site to see it flower and it's quite elegant used in seasonal plantings.

An ongoing complaint

Ok...what's wrong with this photo??? I tried to tell them about it, but they refuse to pull the plants!