Monday, May 30, 2011

End of Chelsea means the big sell off at the end! Coming back to London from Cheshire, people already had plants on hand and ready to try and take it on the trains!! CRAZY! But so totally awesome!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A quick update and a little teaser

Greetings from Cheshire!


I'm currently staying with my friend, Shaun Barton, at his home near Manchester and it's been quite an experience here so far.

London and the Chelsea Flower Show was outstanding in many aspects no matter how critical others have been about the show.


I feel like I accomplished what I really wanted from it. Simply being there was a thrill and it really gave me such insight on the British approach towards the "glorifying" of its plants, gardens, and even gardeners. The media coverage was unbelievable, yet when I looked at most of the displays, I often find it comparable to what I've encountered before with flower and garden shows in the states.


Taking the train up here to where I'm currently staying and being driven around by Shaun has been so pleasant, humbling, and overall remarkable.... minus the lack of a reliable internet connection, camera and laptop batteries not charging properly, and a bitch of a canker sore that's aching severely and has the left side of my face almost paralyzed. I've visited several gardens and nurseries with Shaun and met plantsmen that have been so insightful, charismatic, and truly inspiring. Driving around the countryside with the rolling green hills, hedgerows, and farms was also captivating and something I will always feel connected to.

View of Bodnant Home from parking

I've much to share, but not much time now as I need to get more quality sleep as I head back to London tomorrow to finish off my trip before flying back to the States.

Riz examines Shefflera

Thank you all for your patience and I hope you'll check in soon with more observations and awesome photos of my experiences here!



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Packing for summer fashion....a dilemma

So, I've been sorta freaking out as I finish up packing for my upcoming trip (flight's tomorrow AM!). I totally don't consider myself fashionable by any means and this first trip to the UK sort of has me worried about my selection of clothes. I'm a jeans and t-shirt with FLEECE kind of Northwest gardener that doesn't go out much or spends that much money on clothes.

The Chelsea Flower Flower is regarded as the official start of the summer social season. Minus the extravagant preview party where all the famous names and wealthy citizens of London parade themselves lavishly through the show gardens, going to Chelsea still means being seen!

So, here's an example of being dressed up for me. It's plain, uninspired, and I can't, for the life of me, keep a collar in check. This was at my cousin's wedding in December and I'm posing with my other cousin, Christina.

Riz and Ting

I had an intervention of sorts a few months ago when I went to a club with family and they were somewhat baffled by my outfit of choice. Again, it was plain, dark, and potentially warding off any potential for meeting a cute date. Hahhaha

So, we went shopping and came up with a argyle vest ensemble that seemed to work with a pair of dress shoes or converse.


I've been trying to consult with other friends and colleagues over there, but I still feel like I won't be up to the level of sophistication almost everyone I've met that's from the UK seem to be.

But you know what, I'm a horticulturist; I making peanuts, and I'll pull off whatever I can pull off with what I have. I still feel an itch to go and get a few things though:

Maybe I just need a bit of color and not be too afraid about wearing it. Accessories would be nice (I really need to learn how to tie a tie on my own without referring to a YouTube video or having someone else do it for me!)

How sad, a "Next Generation Gardener" who can't dress himself for what may be the grandest flower show he'll ever attend! Now if I can look like this guy and pull off something like this....hmm...better than having my body painted like the models above.

I'll let you know what I come up with.

Seattle Chinese Garden's 1st Peony Festival

I'm kind of bummed that I won't be here to help celebrate China's most famous flowering plant at the Seattle Chinese Garden this Saturday.

Paeonia suffructicosa hybrid

Our horticulture committee has endured a few challenges lately, yet we're moving forward in hosting our first even horticultural event by showcasing the genus Paeonia

Peonies have long been popular garden plants, but it never seems popular enough in the Puget Sound Area to garner its own exhibition. Perhaps it's because of the busy time of year when you're competing with plant sales, garden opens, etc. etc., but in Chinese culture, the peony is much celebrated and we thought that we'd begin a tradition of acknowledging this beautiful flower each year so the Seattle Chinese Garden becomes a destination for folks to come visit what we hope to be the largest collection of tree and herbaceous peonies in Western Washington that's open to the public.

For our first attempt at this, Swanson's Nursery kindly lent us 3 plants for the festivities this Saturday. Here they are being delivered. Oh, driving around with these blossoms and their scent was heavenly!!

This first year is really a trial run using the handful of tree peonies we have in our nursery holding area that haven't received the best of care, but are still quite remarkable. They'll be showcased in glazed ceramic Chinese pots

There will be a flower arranging demonstration, a running slideshow of a Peony festival in China and photos of many cultivars available in the trade. There will also be information about care and culture of peonies and potted herbaceous peonies for sale.

The event will also offer an opportunity to see the new "Knowing the Spring Courtyard" and the early stages of future construction.

I hope you'll come and support our humble horticulture committee and see some wonderful tree peonies in bloom and see the brand new courtyard!

WHAT: Seattle Chinese Garden's 1st Annual Peony Festival

WHERE: 6000 16th Ave. SW, Seattle WA 98106

WHEN: Saturday, May 21st. 12PM-5:30PM


For more information visit the Seattle Chinese Garden website!


I hope to share my peony pride and joy in future years with my precious:

Paeonia rockii pair

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This new plant's called....domino...DOMINO!!!

My young division of this Epimedium 'Domino' is getting established in a container and it decided to flower a few weeks ago.

Epimedium Domino

Still not as readily available as other cultivars as this one set me back around $30.00 plus shipping, but it has gotten so many raves from fellow plantsmen and collectors I had to get it!

It is incredibly prolific in bloom with wonderful mottled foliage when developing and its overall vigor and habit are superb!

And now, the song/music video that reminds me of this plant!

5 Days to go.....planting like crazy!

With so many things sitting in pots, I've been trying to get things in the ground before I leave. The past few days, it's been dahlias!

I purchased a few dahlias from the Seattle Dahlia Society a few weeks ago and even with our almost non-existent spring temperatures, I figured that it'd be safe to plant them out right about now.

After all these years, I'm continually amazed at such a large plant and extravagant flowers come from a simple little tuber.

While it's getting kind of late to get tubers, dahlia plants become available at local nurseries later in the summer. However, they're often more expensive and the variety is usually poor.

So each spring I always look out for tubers, young plants, or pot roots.

These often come as a cluster of small, thin tubers packaged in sawdust or peat or a single plump tuber with at least one "eye" like the foreground of the photo above.

PLANTS: In late winter, dahlia growers force a few tubers indoors, underlights, to generate what are called "basal shoots" from the tubers. These young, tender shoots are allowed to develop until they're 3-4 inches tall and carefully cut off to create a little cutting, in which they place in media so it can root!! These basal cuttings bloom this summer and form tubers like all the other dahlias! Some varieties respond very well to this treatment and it's a great way of getting more plants as the tubers used to generate this cuttings can also be planted out and will also grow and flower!

POT ROOTS: A somewhat newer method of offering dahlias. These are basically cuttings that have been kept in containers all of last year (or cuttings taken in late summer) so you have this "block" of tubers you can plant out.

Now that they're all in, I need to make sure they're marked so I know where they are and I can place a taller and stronger stake if they need it without fear of spearing the tubers.

Just gotta get the slug bait out as those tender shoots coming up are tasty to slugs and snails.

Dahlia Pooh
This is one of my favorites called 'Pooh'

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Flamingoes back in fashion?

Yes, I often question my design aesthetic. Client had them around so, whatevs

Needs to go....Needs to go!!!

SOAFB!!!!!!! Evil EVIL!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

Hyacinthoides hispanica aka Scilla hispanica

I truly HATE when this happens. Those fucking bulbs go down so deep, they're so difficult to eradicate and by pulling off just the stems and foliage, I've actually aided their spread even further becoming more of a bitch next season!!

"Yes, you can be pretty in early spring drifts of color, but, bitch, you spread way too much and I WANT YOU OUT OF MY LIFE!!!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Countdown Starts...10 days until London

Is it the excitement of it all or the gazillion things I feel like i have to do before I leave that's keeping me up late? Next week, I'm off to London to fulfill a dream I've had since I was 12 years old and my main agenda:

The Chelsea Flower Show!

Regarded as the world's greatest flower show, I taped a PBS special of the BBC coverage of the 1997 show and I had fantasies and wild aspirations about being the youngest ever exhibitor at Chelsea. Though I'm no longer able to fulfill that lofty goal, I'm approaching this tremendous opportunity to visit London as something I personally wanted and needed to do at this point in my life.

So much of gardening has all been about work and trying to make a living doing what I love to do, but often times the joy and exhilaration of flowers that captivates me tends to be forgotten and I want to be able to just soak it all in: sniff every flower, snap endless photos, talk with other plant enthusiasts from all over the world and just wear a smile on my face the entire time as if to say "This is where I belong"!

Such high expectations for a trip, eh? Barring any potential illness, injury, natural disaster, family emergency and the like, I should have a decent time.

Follow me through my thoughts and and observations leading up to my voyage to the UK and I'll be sure to try and post regular updates!



Monday, May 2, 2011

Impulse Buy: A fragrant sausage....vine.....yup yup

Needing some slug bait and twine, I went to a local nursery and ran into horticulturist, Joe Abken, who informed me of a new shipment of vines from Monrovia.

It was part of the Dan Hinkley collection of new introductions and it happened to be an unusual evergreen vine called Holboellia coriacea 'Cathedral Gem'. Collected in China, this seldom grown plant is dubbed the "Sausage Vine" because of it's bizarre fruit, but the FLOWERS ARE SO FREAKIN' FRAGRANT, I cursed at Joe for corrupting me once again on a absolutely stunning plant that I had to try.


The scent is very reminiscent of orange blossoms and when Tina came by, it reminded her of Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) as well.

Supposed to be hardy down to Zone 6 and it gets its name because this plant was found growing at Winchester Cathedral in the UK. It blooms in late winter to early spring they say and requires part shade and consistent moisture in rich, but well draining soil. The straight species can grow up to 20 to 20 feet when mature, we'll see how I do with this one!

We need more interesting and reliable evergreen vines to replace crap like ivy and Clematis armandii, which can be nice, but a maintenance nightmare! If this sausage vine can get dense, flower reliably when its suppose to and the foliage holds up well all year, then we'll be happy campers.

Don't worry, Dan, this photo wasn't taken from your garden!