Friday, July 27, 2012


Another Olympic Games is upon us and with a nation of gardeners playing host to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, you can expect plantings and flowers all around the venues, important landmarks and, of course, the traditional victory bouquets presented to the athletes who stand up on the podium.

Over 20,000 flowers were precisely planted at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

A meadow band of gold was planted on the south end of the Olympic Park.

Wildflowers by the stadium

The Victory Bouquet

I'm sure the bouquet will grow on me as I watch the games, root for my favorite athletes and teams and watch the victory ceremonies.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Take a trip to the Desert Northwest: Ian Barclay

Drought tolerant gardening has always been a popular topic and amongst my friends and colleagues here in the Pacific Northwest, I couldn't be more thrilled, and relieved, that there's a "Next Generation Gardener" out there FOCUSED on such an endeavor by constantly seeking out plants that thrive in our Mediterranean climate (wet winters, dry summers) Ian Barclay has been a name I've heard time and time again. It wasn't until he surfaced at several local plant sales just a few years ago that I got a chance to chat with him and learn about his nursery, The Desert Northwest.

Euphorbia rigida.
Ian specializes in both native and exotic species that thrive with very little water once established. He's definitely one of those gardeners who like to push the boundaries in terms of plant hardiness. He was part of the whole movement to integrate plants like palms, eucalyptus, and a lot of Southern Hemisphere plants such as New Zealand Flax, Grevilleas, Chilean Monkey Puzzle and flame flower (Embothrium coccineum).

He and his family currently reside in Sequim, WA where he's built poly tunnels to house his ever-increasing and evolving collection of plants and the wonderful plants he propagates to offer to other avid gardeners.

Drought tolerant garden at Cistus Nursery in Sauvie Island, OR

This coming weekend, he's got his FIRST OPEN HOUSE that I'm hoping to attend. His selection is remarkable and I could definitely learn more about "xeriscaping" and being more aware of low-water use plants in the world. Being a plant collector, I'm sure he'll also have a mix of random things that will get my plant juices just flowing as well! I encourage you all to attend!

Arctostaphyllos (Manzanita) with with spiky Nolina nelsonii growing at the Miller Garden, just north of Seattle.

Another reason to visit Sequim this coming weekend, there's these other drought tolerant plants the region is known for!



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?"