Sunday, April 29, 2012

There's always room for J-E-L-L-O and seasonal cut flowers!!

It's been somewhat of a dismal past few days, but I have to share a highlight of last week as I ventured out with some friends up to Mt. Vernon. We skipped the so called "Tulip Traffic" at this time of year up there in the Skagit Valley, but instead, we paid a visit to a place that will be getting a lot of press and attention thanks to a fantastic new book written and photographed by two wonderful friends, Debra Prinzing and David Perry.

Their book is "The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local, and Sustainable Flowers"

On the gorgeous cover, an abundant farm was featured along with its proprietor: it's Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farms (on the right). I met Diane in person at the Hardy Plant Society of Washington's lecture series last year where she spoke and shared her knowledge, enthusiasm and undeniable passion for the work that she does. She just FLEW through the lecture and you were totally with her if you knew your plants. Hahaha. She was so excited and kept everyone so engaged! LOVED IT!

I've been meaning to pay her a visit, but the push to make the appointment came about when a volunteer of mine at the UW shared that she and a classmate of hers were starting up a small business doing landscape design and custom floral work. She expressed such a deep interest in using locally grown and produced materials and I thought it would be a perfect field trip for her to meet Diane and also see where some of her future "cuts" may come from.

Diane Teaches Ladies

Diane kindly welcomed us and gave us a tour of her fields and growing production. While there weren't acres and acres of fantastic flowers just yet, we saw the roots and foundation of a successful and productive flower crop.

 Looking into Polyhouse

Rows and rows of dahlia cuttings rooted and hardening off, beds of one of my favorite, self seeding annuals, Cerinthe, the sweet peas beginning to climb up their trellises. It looks like so much hard work, yet it was compelling to witness just how it all works and grows.

Diane with Peony
Diane with a luscious tree peony just starting to open

Peony Bud
A tree peony bud almost ready to pick.
. The greatest thing about small cut flower farms like Jello Mold is the emphasis on diversity. They freely experiment on what makes a great "cut" and use such a wide assortment of varieties so nothing goes to waste. They compost, use biological controls, no chemicals and everything is able to "go back to the earth".  From the young shoots of ornamental grasses to the colorful abundance of fruits in the fall and winter, designers are blessed with a plethora of plant selections and it forces them to really think outside of the box in assembling their creations. It truly is fascinating!

Seed Starting
Diversity begins inside a simple greenhouse where she sows an array of different varieties along with some customer requests.

Hellebores make a good cut as well, but you have to harvest them after the stamens fall of.

Seedlings with Jello Molds
A flat of seedlings hardening off with Jello Molds behind. =)

.What's most remarkable and noteworthy about Diane is her work ethic and commitment to her craft. I could not believe that she runs that farm with very minimal help and she also does landscape work in the Seattle area just to keep the farm going! She is full force, smart, and absolutely A HERO wanting to make a positive change in our world by sharing her world of responsibly grown flowers to brighten our spirits.

I must come back and visit this summer when everything is burst into blooms!

For more information on Jello Mold Farm and where you can get their flowers, Visit their website:


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Riz and 'The Giant'

The last two weekends have been such a whirlwind of wonderful experiences and stories I want to be able to share, but it's that time of year where I'm overwhelmed, overworked, and, often times, OVERDOING IT!

One story deserves special recognition as it relates to a post I wrote several months ago about my
"Plants That I Want" list, based on the Plant Delight's Nursery catalog.

So, at the recent Hardy Plant Society of Oregon Spring Plant Sale down in Portland, Oregon, I happen  to run across a plant that I've been so intrigued by and been very tempted to just cave and own.

It's an Epimedium dubbed, "The Giant" being offered by extraordinary plantswoman, Diana Reeck of Collector's Nursery in Battle Ground, Washington. She had only 5 plants in one gallon containers all from a division she received from Epimedium authority, Darrell Probst, who discovered and collected it in China about a decade ago as an unidentified species. It was first offered for $500 for a small division, then it came down to $300, then Plant Delights has it for $150 for a small division.

Diana with 'The Giant' in full flower tempting every plant collector who admired it and aggravated whether or not it was worth it.

And looking at the price tag, I knew there was no way I'd be adding it to my humble box of luscious goodies from other vendors even thought it's the cheapest I've seen it.

Already, three had sold or been picked up leaving this and another specimen for me mull over and wonder if I can justify its purchase and addition to my collection.

Pollinating the Giant 2
I agonized about it all day. I was even trying to pollinate it with another Epimedium, I was so obsessed.!!

I talked to other growers and sought their thoughts and opinions and I even posted the photo above on Facebook, which totally drew up so many hilarious and serious comments about this one-of-a-kind plant.

    You get it and setting for mac and cheese for the rest of the month for meals.

     You buy it and then give it to me :) 

    Get 10 friends to buy in, like on Lotto and then "decide:" how to divide it up!!!

    Thats a sale price for that! in 5 years they will be at home depot for 7.99

    This wasn't on April Fool's Day that you saw this by any chance?

    Buy them all here is my wife's credit card number: 8907 4568 93345

    security number?

    or--support The Hardy Plant Society and suggest they hire you as a speaker, this plant in payment

    Buy it and never look back.

    Around here it's beans and cornbread if we overspend on plants in the winter. In the summer I don't worry so much because the veggie garden will feed us.

    ok CONFESS! what happened in the end?....

    He would have spent the money on something anyway...oh and just in case you did buy it, have I told you lately how gosh darn handsome you are? Why you are just the nicest person... (thinks to self, he might have some babies in that pot...never hurts to grease the wheels...)

    Did you buy it Riz ?
    Sing a song, Riz! You will lure other shoppers to their table to see where that amazing 'voice' is coming   from and help build their sales up. Then they should offset your spontaneous concert with a mark down on the Ep and it could be a win-win

    Think of it as an iEpimedium.... It's easier
    So, Riz, did you?



So, I kind of left people in suspense to this point. A few have claimed that I did get it, but.....

Sigh..... here are photos that have been circulating around the online forums so you can see just how REMARKABLE this Eppie is: Photos courtesy of Mr. Philip MacDougall.

Double sigh......


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Time to Build Your Garden Library!

The Miller Library is having their awesome book sale this coming weekend.  Free Friday night for some wine, cheese and first dibs on some fabulous books at incredible prices? Attend their preview party!

A photo from past book sales. The selection is absolutely phenomenal!

Look out for some floral arrangements assembled by moi!


On Friday, April 6 from 5 to 8pm attend the Preview Party for first crack at the books.  Enjoy a glass of wine, mingle with other gardening enthusiasts, and bid on specially selected books in the silent auction. To purchase tickets contact the Library at 206-543-0415. Tickets cost $20 each.

On Saturday, April 7, the Book Sale will run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admittance is free. 

Center for Urban Horticulture/UWBG
3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle