Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretty awesome for a "recycled" container planting with left over plants from client's seasonal display.

See what can happen if you're not constantly butchering your shrubs!! This is Osmanthus delavayi; a shrub that's probably one of my favorite broadleaf evergreen shrubs. It responds well to shearing and hedging, but if allowed to grow naturally, it's just covered with fragrant blooms late March and into April!!

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Best Deal on Gardening Books!!! Miller Library Book Sale!

The library staff at the Miller Library is gearing up for the much anticipated annual book sale at the Center for Urban Horticulture. According to librarian, Martha Ferguson, they had a tremendous donation of books this year!

Best time to come and shop is during the preview event, of course, where they'll serve wine and cheese and you have first dibs on fantastic titles at very reasonable prices!

Just click on the flyer above for more information!! YES, IT'S TOMORROW AND SATURDAY!!!



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My kind if nursery, but it's cold, wet and kind of messy, but it's still super early. Pretty cool plants though!

Monday, March 28, 2011

You're a plant geek foodie when...

1) You instruct the waitress to ask the chef what type of leaf came with the appetizer.
2) You prevent your hungry date from starting just so you can capture the right photo to post on Facebook or your blog!

So,in my last few visits to Thai restaurants, I've insisted that we order the famous "Miang Kham" as an appetizer.

Miang Kham Plate

There's something about the mixture of textures and ingredients and how they all go together with a most scrumptious sweet and savory sauce that's just to die for! And what brings it all together is a unique leaf that I just went GAGA over as I was intrigued by its shape, texture, and the gently pungent taste.

Miang Kham Filled Miang Kham Cone

So this awesome leaf is known as betel (Piper betle).It's the same family where peppercorns come from (Piperaceae) and is found as a creeping, evergreen plant in South and South East Asia. However, the first time I had these, I was told it was called "lalot". So I Google'd the name and Piper sarmentosum came up in the search which supposedly is a smaller leaf and not as strong in flavor as the betel. Whichever leaf it is, it is mighty tasty and binds all the ingredients so well.

Being that it's native to tropical regions, it most likely will not survive as a perennial here, but perhaps an annual or keeping it as a houseplant might work. I've yet to find a nursery that offers the plant.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hort programs struggling with enrollment.

I'm preparing for my upcoming teaching gig at Edmonds Community College and following a faculty meeting last week to discuss the upcoming school term, it was discouraging to hear that enrollment was poor. As one of THE BEST horticulture programs in the State of Washington, it was kind of shocking. Yes, we were encouraged to promote our own classes and this blog post is an attempt at that, but more importantly, I want to share with you just how broad and extensive their course offerings are.

Spring is THE season with so much coming into growth and bloom, instructors and students can't help, but be enthralled, inspired, and yes, be overwhelmed by it all.

Our course offerings include a spring vegetable gardening course, introduction to restoration ecology, Horticultural Plant Science, insects, pest management, landscape studies, field sketching, nursery and greenhouse, construction and, of course, the plant identification courses, which I feel quite honored to have been asked to teach one (Hort 160 Woody Plants for Gardeners) as it's probably the best exposure anyone interested in plants will get.

You really can't get this kind of training in our region outside of our local community colleges. It's not just Edmonds, but Lake Washington Technical and South Seattle Community Colleges, just to name a few, have excellent programs that are nurturing the future leaders, managers, and skilled workers in the landscape industry.

Even if you're not a professional nor intended to be at all involved in the industry, but you enjoy gardening and plants, THERE IS SOMETHING FOR YOU !

Check out the course offerings from the three schools I mentioned and take a class or two to broaden your knowledge and also meet like-minded people who love what they do and share in the experience of learning to manage and oversee the environment that surrounds us.

Edmonds Community College

Lake Washington Technical College

South Seattle Community College

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winter Containers

After a successful talk at this year's Northwest Flower and Garden Show, I gave away a handful of plants, but kept a handful to pot up some containers to spruce up the townhouse where I'm currently living.

Here's what I threw together:

A large Western Red Cedar resides up front with some non-descript deciduous Cotoneasters at the base. It needed a focal point. I'm almost tempted to redo it and planting something with larger, bolder foliage that can be seen as neighbors drive by.

So Hellebores have been so hot this early season and there's so many to choose from now, it's so incredibly fun to work with.

This was the composition I demonstrated at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Highlighting a most spectacular hardy Citrus (Poncirus) trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' flanked with black mondo grass, sweet flag and a bright Sedum acre 'Aureum'. Tried to squeeze in Brunnera 'Jack Frost't, but I couldn't. This was an exercise in color contrast and textures.




And got the approval that the roomies dig 'em!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Sexy tongue and whip graft!

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yes, it's cheaper , BUT.....

So, it's that time of year when things begin to trickle into the chain store garden centers (for us here in Seattle, WA, it's mainly Home Depot and Lowe's) and they're beginning to get deliveries of fresh plant material. So naturally, I find an excuse to go in (usually to replace a burned out light bulb or cheap potting soil) and check out the selection.

Over the past few years, I've been finding top-notch specialty plants such as these Hellebores. In the past, I've obtained 'Ivory Prince', but now you can easily get 'Pink Frost' and, recently, I spotted a clone from the "Gold Collection" called 'Jacob' (which, of course wasn't labeled as so because they feel like no one really gives a fuck) a whole series of H. x hybridus hybrids that were once just pukey colors, but now they're pukey colors with ruffles, spots, picotees, DOUBLE AND ANEMONE FORMS! It was just a few years ago that these were like the holy grail of Hellebores that fetched $40-50 easily, but now you can purchase a small clump blooming its head off for around $10.00.

Think of these Hellebores as the new ORCHIDS. They've been micro-propagated in a laboratory so they can be mass-produced and offered at a lower price to the consumer. Sounds awesome, right?? Yes and No, in my opinion.


Good quality plants, true to type for the most part (regardless of how it was labelled), and good plants get to gardeners much quicker and they're far more affordable. Can't argue too much about that, eh?


Real nurseries and specialty garden centers suffer because of the cost of production and retail mark-ups call for higher prices just to break even, but for the most part, it's a severe loss for the small grower who, honestly, cannot compete with a chain giant. Most of these plants are produced in other parts of the country, travel a long way via truck, are regularly mislabeled, and treated poorly once they're stocked on nursery tables at chains.

As a grower, it certainly hurts to see a plant I've worked so hard to propagate, pot up, grow on carefully, and label for an upcoming plant sale only to find the same plants being sold at Lowe's or Home Depot for less than half of what I'm selling them for WHOLESALE!!

This is definitely an area where I feel quite torn and uncertain as to how to go about deciding which plants to get.

I've always said that there's no shame in shopping at a chain. I'm all about budget gardening and encouraging those who want to dabble in growing plants, but I'm also a plantsman who stresses quality in plant development and introduction and fully support local growers and businesses.

I'd appreciate your comments on this, please.

BTW, I caved and purchased that lower flower that impressed me with it's almost 4" flower, heavy speckling, and just how awesome it looked with the dark purple Phormium I was planning on using for a seasonal container.

Helleborus purple spotted Helleborus purple spotted with flax