Monday, December 17, 2012

East Coast Excursion 3: A visit to Wave Hill

A deliberate sense of enclosure as you enter the garden.
After a quick tour of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Mr. Druse whisked me away to a garden that I HAD to see according to him..

Wave Hill is a stunning garden in the Bronx that overlooks the Hudson River and the dramatic Palisades. Our greeters were apologetic that we were a bit too early for the fall color across the river, but the weather was absolutely perfect and the only thing we could have asked for was more time.

Entrance Lawn
The open lawn and the view of the Hudson and the Palisades across with just a hint of fall color

Perennial Border
Their perennial beds were simply immaculate with late season herbaceous perennials and bulbs still putting on a tremendous show. Salvias were something to salivate over as their richly color flowers were as vivid as ever. The dahlias dazzled with wiry stems and explosions of color and the setting sun illuminated ornamental grasses and other perennials with such drama. The garden had wonderful "bones" and the formal layout of the beds were very reminiscent of the bedding schemes I remember seeing in the UK.

Small ConservatoryThe small conservatory was pretty pretty timid and quaint, but boy was it ever maintained to the finest detail. Not a single yellow leaf would be spotted and each plant specimen craved a visitor's attention. It was quite fun walking through with Ken and chatting in a way that only plant geeks would appreciate. Part of me was wanting to make a very good first impression and was a bit relieved when I could ID most of the plant materials in this remarkable greenhouse.

Anthurrium magnificum 1
Here's a stunning plant that I knew the genus of, but not quite the species. I wasn't all that surprised when I saw the label! Anthurium magnificum. Absolutely stupendous!

We walked the extensive grounds, had lunch and met with a few of Ken's colleagues and continued to soak in the rest of the gardens:

Framed View of Sumac 1  

Backlit Garden Beds

  Victorias in Pool

Seats at Wave Hill

Pennisetum Beds with Yucca

It was a bit rushed as we wanted to avoid the horrid traffic heading back to Brooklyn, but the short time I we were there was quite special. There was something about the lighting and the many intimate spaces one could wander into made it worthwhile. The plant palette was quite nice with some wonderful specimen trees and shrubs that would catch anyone's eye!

Parthenocissus henryana

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai' habit
Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai'

Pinus bungeana - Lace-Bark Pine

It was an honor to meet and spend time with Ken Druse that day. I don't think my experience at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Wave Hill would be as memorable if he weren't my guide.

His insight and shared love for plants was wonderful to experience and for someone without a formal horticultural background or degree, I think it's remarkable what he's able to put out there in terms of his books and lectures on various topics! It was very helpful asking him questions about garden writing, famous OCD television personalities that shall remain nameless (hahahahha) and all sorts of other topics related to what the future lies ahead for those, like myself, moving forward in horticulture.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Pacific Northwest Treasure Aims for a Comeback

It was a delight to hear that the former Heronswood Garden in Kingston, WA is finally under new ownership and will one day be restored back to an incredible garden that inspired many gardeners around the world with it's remarkable botanical tapestry of rare and unusual plants from around the world. Read about sale of the property here.

Here are some photos of the gardens from previous visits.

"Every great garden has great bones!"

The meticulously maintained European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata')  is an iconic feature of this garden.

What always amazed me about Heronswood was the audience it drew. Obviously it was more middle-aged women who were most interested in these garden opens and the husbands and children dragged along, but once they begin to settle into the landscape, they relax and marvel at the extensive collection of plants and really appreciate the surroundings.

The Greek ruins made up of colored concrete columns and leaf casts create for a magical scene in Heronswood.

Striking columns with massive pots sitting atop them with bold and lush foliage all around. Its unbelievable what we're able to grow in the Pacific Northwest.

It isn't all about rare and exotic plants and naturalistic landscapes. An extensive and beautifully designed edible garden can be found and there are places to sit and relax and soak up the grand views all around.

What we won't see anymore is this, sadly. A world-renowned nursery with some of the most exciting plant introductions for the keen and avid gardener!

What will remain are the gardens and, already, a team of supporters aiming to restore and refresh the grounds to its former splendor. The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, who purchased the property, are supportive of the efforts as are the former owners of the garden.

A most exciting opportunity was recently just posted:

On December 9, Heronswood will open its gates to same-sex couples who plan on legally getting married as Referendum 74 passed just a few weeks ago!

What a tremendous opportunity! Let's hope the weather cooperates to celebrate a momentous occasion not only for the beloved garden, but to our greater community.

Read about it here!

"Like" Heronswood on Facebook!


Friday, November 30, 2012

East Coast Excursion Part 2: The Man Behind The Books

Brooklyn Botanic Garden was an absolute treat! It was minutes from my cousin and it happened to be a day where there was no admission fee! I finally walked into a landscape I had only ever seen in books, magazines and documentaries on television.

Grasses steps
A simple and modern design using a simple plant palette to soften the clean lines created by the concrete steps and benches.

Herb Garden from Platform
From above a platform, you get this remarkable view of an edible garden that looked absolutely well-kept and attracted many visitors including a group of school kids!

Musa with Pennisetum
One thing I really envy about the east coast is their ability to get lush tropical plantings as lush as they are here on the East Coast. This stunning plant pairing consists of  a hardy banana (Musa sikkimensis) and a annual Pennisetum grass.

Japanese Garden View
The Japanese Garden was lovely and offered this tremendous view from the viewing platform.

Perennial Borders
The Rose Garden was just passed its prime blooming season, but the perennial bedding plants were putting on a show!

Conservatory and Cafe
Most Botanical Institutions become destinations for people. Not only are they looking to see plants and gardens, they also want a place to sit, relax and refresh.  I had a light breakfast at their overpriced cafe, but sadly, I didn't have much time to explore the conservatory because I had to meet someone who's quite well known amongst gardening circles worldwide.

Meeting Ken Druse:

Growing up, the name Ken Druse crossed my path and journey towards horticulture with his phenomenal books and exquisite photographs.

He is the author of many books, most notably, The Natural Shade Garden, The Collector's Garden, Plantropology, and his latest, Natural Companions. was just stunning when I had a chance to look at it before we met up.

Just a sampling from this visually stunning work of art scanned by Helen Hoverkamp

I still find it remarkable that I've meet so many people, who I considered celebrities, over the past few years. I guess anyone who's published a book could be considered famous in my mind, but Ken Druse is almost like a household name. He's appeared on Martha Stewart's shows on several occasion and he has this calm and encouraging demeanor to him that I didn't expect from someone of his caliber.

Ken Photographing Crape Myrtle
Here he is always working and capturing the stunning bark of Lagerstroemia indica.
It was such an honor to spend the day with him looking at plants, gardens, talking about life and career as a garden writer.

He kindly drove and we hit up our next stop, a garden he insisted I MUST visit while in New York...

Stay tuned..


Sunday, November 18, 2012

East Coast Excursion: Part 1

It simply broke my heart to see the news and horrible images unfold as many of the places I visited just a few weeks ago were hit with strong winds, terrible floods, and power outages.

After years of reading books, admiring photographs and hearing stories about these  remarkable gardens and landscapes, I finally had an opportunity to visit the east coast! My initial hook was a Perennial Plant Conference, that coincidentally, my buddy, Matt Berberich was also thinking of attending as his hometown was pretty close to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvannia.

Now, I had about a week to devote to this trip and it got me thinking, "I could possibly hit up New York!" I have a few relatives in NYC that I could possibly visit and there were several gardens that I've been wanting so very badly to see!

Rather than ramble on about my trip, here are some photo highlights!

NYC can easily make one feel very small in such a fast-paced environment.

I was thrilled to visit with my cousin and see the amazing Highline! It's a stunning space, but it has become surprisingly touristy.

I also had a cousin who I stayed with in Brooklyn who lived fairly close to the BBG! I had an opportunity to say hello to Scott Medbury, their executive director.

I'm not really all that special, but I guess I had to be to see Mr. Medbury, but the nicest treat was the garden was free that day and I was joined by someone who is quite well known in horticultural literature.

Any guesses as to who??

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Election Day!

From The Next Generation Gardener:

I'm not typically a political person, but selecting our USA President and several issues are very near and dear to me and I ask Washington State to please read and understand the facts and support our community by approving Referendum 74 - The right for same-sex couples to marry!

There are so many gay couples and individuals in our gardening community and they have every right to have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.

Agree or Disagree, PLEASE VOTE!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Where do I even begin to pick up where I left off...

bad garden blogger...BAD GARDEN BLOGGER!!!   Ugggggghhhhh....

I guess I could say, in my defense, that I was actually gardening and not sitting on my ass blogging about every event that's garden/plant/flower related. The problem is, just about every aspect of my life is related to plants, flowers and garden and I can't even begin to choose what to share.

Plus, I've also just been so overwhelmed with work. It is FALL after all! Clean up is endless and preparations for the winter, plus TEACHING; the weeks go by so fast and, olly crap, it's almost NOVEMBER!!!

So, here's are some events that took place over the past month. Why don't YOU choose which topic I should do a full blog post on:

-My cousin Jocelyn got married (yes, another wedding, but I didn't do the flowers this time, but there's still something plant related that's cheesy and hilarious)

-A wedding also means a little family reunion. I had cousins stay with me and see my garden which included grapes my grandfather planted that ripened just in time.

-Just got back from my first ever trip to the Northeast hitting up New York City, New Jersey, and the Philadelphia area to visit family, friends, and, of course, GARDENS! I'm sure there will be a post on this no matter what. was pretty incredible!

-Finished my design for my show garden for the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

-Filmed the second episode of the "Next Generation Gardener"  (currently being produced and edited!)

-Presented my first talk called "Travels of a Garden Foodie" to a local garden club.

-Started teaching a class on Nursery and Greenhouse Production at Edmonds Community College. 

-Landwave Gardens in the fall is always a treat as the landscape really lights up.

-It's that time of year where I'm preparing for the winter and digging, dividing, and transplanting all sorts of plants.

I'm sure this isn't all of it, but take your pick(s) and I'll get another post up.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

A late summer wedding

Flowers are incredibly symbolic and there's nothing more gratifying than sharing my love and adoration for them by creating something for an event that many will see and also remember for the rest of their lives.

During the first weekend of September, I was invited to my friend, Katharine's, wedding that took place at the scenic Washington coast and was asked if I was able to do the flowers for the event.

Normally, I would decline such requests as seasonal, informal bouquets from my garden and what's in season were one thing, but flowers for an event with a specific theme and color scheme were a whole other ball game. Hearing her ideas and offering some advice, I quickly began to see it coming together in my mind. With the help of her Pinterest page, it was obvious that she wanted to go a simple, almost country/rustic route that would be easy to pull off utilizing materials I had close at hand or could be sourced easily and locally!

Dahlia BucketAlready inspired by my early spring trips to Jello Mold Farm and the book "The 50 Mile Bouquet" by my friends Debra Prinzing and photographer, David Perry, I've been on such a roll putting together abundant bouquets freshly picked from my garden and I figured I would have the same approach. It came together very well!
Dahlias were the flower of choice by the bride and I couldn't have been more thrilled. It could have been a total excuse to visit Dan's Dahlias in Oakville to see his remarkable farm!

UntitledExcited, yet also nervous, I agreed to create her bouquet and the bridesmaid's bouquets. And always wanting to go above and beyond, I said I could pull off corsages and boutonnieres for the parents, centerpieces for the reception, and arrangements for others areas of the venues.

Long story short, it came together so well. I was able to raid the future mother-in-law's home garden for some fabulous material to put together other arrangements for the event.

Wedding Aisle
The aisle flanked with a pair of galvanized buckets filled with 'Limelight' Hydrangeas, Physocarpus, and plumes of Stipa gigantea. I bundled some fresh lavender, which the groom's family kindly helped me clean and prepare, to adorn the seats that defined the aisle.
Wedding Aisle 1
The bride's view as she walks down the aisle to her groom under a simple arbor draped in red silk and the dramatic ocean view in the background.

The completed bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages.


The bride's bouquet composed of hand-tied dahlias, chrysanthemums, lavender and surrounded by the sweet scent of Clethera and various ornamental grasses.

Bridemaids Bouquet

The bridesmaids had white dahlias hand-tied with silvery blue Echinops, lavender, rosemary, and various ornamental grasses for a wild, meadow look. I threw in Hypericum berries to compliment the bride's warmer tones in her bouquet.

Katharine and Scott kiss
Witnessing moments like this when two join together as partners in life is something truly special, but to see that you played a part in that union by seeing a bride holding something you created, from the heart, makes what I do working with plants and flowers, so extraordinary.

Riz and Katharine
So here I am with the bride during the reception after all the running around getting flowers and making sure everything looked beautiful.

I've known Katharine since middle school when we were in orchestra together! We both played violin and I think we were stand partners at one point. It was great to know that she continued with it and is now part of a band called Scarlett Virginia:


Congratulations, Katharine and Scott Houck!