Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gardening with Kayaks!

Sorry, I haven't had the time to post anything.

I'd like to share with you a recently installation I completed with landscape designer and a fellow "Next Generation Gardener", Jade Waples of Seattle, WA.

Jade constructs KayakThis was a very unique project that started with a donation of a used kayak from Seattle's popular Agua Verde Paddle Club and Cafe in the University District by Lake Union. They cut a kayak's end off so it would stand and it became a featured display for UW Botanic Garden's booth at the 2011 NW Flower and Garden Show. I planted it up as a vertical garden to showcase the plant diversity that exists throughout Lake Washington and the Arboretum and the proprietors at Agua Verde wanted a similar display in front of their paddle club and visible by diners in the cafe above. It didn't happen right away, but this summer, it was a go and I was so thrilled to work with Jade as she just finished her design degree and wanted more hands-on experiences.

Jade's husband is a landscape contractor so she has a bit of experience in the industry and moves rocks like a pro! Her true strength, however, lies in her work ethic, her experience, and a very keen eye for design.

We decided on high impact color and a Southwest theme. The cut end of one of two kayaks they let us use was put to use as Jade worked her magic in composition. We've included a cold-hardy Agave parryi v. truncata flanked with assorted Sedum and Sempervivum.

Jade works on Agave planter Agave in Kayak

Two kayaks were erected by the awesome Agua Verde staff for us to plant up.

Agua Verde Project

Here's a closeup. We decided to mix it up with both hardy and tender succulents for maximum impact since this kayak maybe need to be taken down for the winter months. It's doing incredibly well and is loving the exposure and heat it gets on site.

Kayak close up

West of the succulent desert is a more conventional border utilizing bright, contrasting colors and seasonal interest. We had to utilize the sparkling globes of Allium schubertii and some perennial standards that will be easy to care for and take off such as Geranium 'Rozanne' and Sedum 'Matrona'. We threw in more exotics that absolutely love the heat such as Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Steroidal Giant' (yes, potentially thuggy, but we're aiming for WOW), Canna 'Tropicanna', Agapanthus 'Stormcloud' and an assortment of Eucomis comosa selections. We've also included wonderful ornamental grasses and the bright gold of Rhus 'Tiger Eyes' which Rey Lopez, one of the managers commented, "that looks expensive!". It wasn't really, not to worry.

Agua Verde Mixed Border

The view from the Cafe is pretty tremendous:

And a lovely way to spend a warm summer afternoon of gardening:

 Agua Verde Food

My thanks to Rey and the rest of the staff at Agua Verde. I need to prepare a plant list for them as they're likely to get inundated with questions on "What's the plant there?"




  1. Hi,
    Is kayaking permitted in the lakes of the Chicago Botanic Gardens?
    I would appreciate actual answers, from people who know what they're talking about.