Monday, December 9, 2013

Reminiscing of Summer: A Danger Garden

With our temperatures dropping into the teens this past weekend, I'm trying to accept the fact that some plants may have suffered a bit of damage or may be totally toast. At times, no matter how much you try protect or bring in, you'll always endure a bit of damage, but how much depends on just how far below freezing we get and how soon. Luckily, we didn't have a abrupt cold snap like a few years ago, but rather than whine and complain about how cold it is, I'd like to look back and be reminded of a most awesome summer and a wonderful trip down to Portland, OR (which, sadly, endured snow and much colder temperatures the past few days).  One garden was an exceptional treat and also one I'm a tad bit worried about after our freeze, but should it pull through this season, it is one fine collection by a woman who's getting quite a readership on her blog, "Danger Garden".

This is the garden of Loree Bohl:

Driving by, it's very apparent which is Loree's garden. Beautifully kept with interesting plants and big, bold textures dominate the space and, immediately, you know you're looking at a plant person's garden. Various cacti and succulents are dressed carefully with a layer of gravel  giving each specimen importance and aiding in much needed drainage. The ginormous 'Steroidal Giant' rice paper plant is a true "indicator" plant of a plant nut in the Pacific Northwest.

Growing it in somewhat of a dryer area may be smart for the plant as it has a tendency to really run. The pavement and gravel probably help it to wake up in spring much earlier as it often takes a full growing season to get this size of leaves!

 I came with plant friends Justin Galicic, Preston Pew and Matt Berberich to see Loree's remarkable garden and all three have heard of her blog and were so eager to meet her in person and see her amazing garden. She was so very welcoming and had a wonderful time dissecting the many elements of her fine garden. Not only were there cool plants, there were interesting combinations and a wonderful use of space (especially in the rear garden).

Loree is a gardener who likes to experiment; texture and dramatic form captivate her and her selections and it truly shows. There are rare plants and there are common plants as well aimed to complete a striking look. It isn't wild and over the top. There's room for plants to expand and grow and I sense a wonderful pacing of edits along the way.

A striking Agave in the foreground (left) and the beautifully placed Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffins' with its peeling bark backlit.

A young Yucca rostrata

A striking combination of Nolina nelsonii with Canna 'Australia' backlit in the background.
Hardy prickly-pear Opuntias are abundant

Make your way to the back and a treasure trove of wonderful plants await! I loved the sense of a welcome by one of my most favorite broadleaf evergreen shrubs of all time, the rare Fatsia polycarpa with its long petioles and deeply, palmately lobed leaves.  And then everywhere you eye looked was a great plant. The square pavers and even the lawn was a very important feature of this space as it allowed the visitor to enter the space, give it a sense of grandeur thus allowing the eye to rest while it transition through another room.

The use of containers in this garden was quite affective. There may be too many for most people's liking because of the tedious watering some may require, but the fact that more are succulents or air plants, they lend themselves to being forgotten while they look spectacular as accents all summer long.

A series of sitting areas makes this garden wonderful both as an intimate space where one can decide just how much exposure they'd like and as an entertainment space to spread a crowd out so the details of each element can be appreciated and admired. 

Our sincerest thanks to Loree for sharing her wonderful garden with us and may the rest of winter be kinder until next spring as we determine what's made it and what we'll have to purchase again. =(

I'm sure all the containers came inside, but the majority of her garden should be alright knowing the lengths we (including Loree) go through to protect our "marginals", we refer to them as. 

Oh, I must throw in that she's also a Tillandsia freak like myself. I adore her compositions and, yes, even an arrangemnt in the bathroom captivated me!

Well done, Loree!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Crossing the Border: My first "International" speaking gig

Greetings readers!

Yes, I'm still alive and I still exist and I'm finally getting around to posting something on here.

So, I'd like to share an experience I had just last weekend so I can skip talking about all that has happened since my last post, which took place in August! Now, over two months later, we can get caught up! Hahahah a nutshell:

1) My friend Molly got hitched and I did her flowers and it turned out pretty awesome.
2) UW Botanic Gardens/Washington Park Arboretum launched the opening of the New Zealand forest at the Arboretum.
3) I met Loree of "Danger Garden" and had a GREAT time with friends in Portland. (future blog post for sure!)
4) Did a floral showcase with new friends in the cut flower industry that I've made. much to share and document!


FOR THIS POST, I'd like to take you all with me to British Columbia for my first ever speaking engagement with the South Surrey Garden Club and the Vancouver Hardy Plant Group.

I drove up Wednesday afternoon to meet my hosts at a lovely garden called Dart's Hill. Just a few minutes from the USA/Canadian border, we were blessed with stunning fall weather and the landscape was in full color. It felt a little weird being on a private tour, but it was quite an honor and to be told that members were looking forward to my talk was kind of cool! Made me a little nervous, but it was really nice of them to say.

Shortly after the garden visit, we headed over to White Rock for dinner and that's when the dense fog rolled in. As expected, though, the group was so kind, so polite and it was nice to see such an active club. Of course I was obviously the youngest person there (minus the AV/set up person to assist), but I was most surprised by the number of male members that were in attendance!

My talk for the South Surrey Garden Club was on "Autumn Appeal: Celebrating the change and color in the Fall Landscape".

Later in the evening, I endured the very thick fog that slowed my drive up to Vancouver, but I made it. It was quite exciting and so very generous of the Vancouver Hardy Plant Group to set me up for a few nights at a well known downtown hotel. I had a few days before my talk for the group so I took the time to sleep in, visit some favorite places, and reconnect with some friends.

I couldn't help but buy flowers and assemble a bouquet for my friends who I haven't seen in years!

Carpinus fangiana
Of course I had to hit up UBC Botanical Garden to see great colors, wonderful plants (including a tree that I'll always be so infatuated with every time I visit. Carpinus fangiana)

Walking through the woodlands, I was getting frustratrated with my camera not working properly and then I began to think, "I've been to this garden many times and I've loads of pictures"
I put the camera away and just tried to soak up all that was around me. Yes, being here is like work, but to be reminded from time to time that landscapes and plants are meant to be enjoyed as well. I didn't want to stress about documenting each plant and capturing the right photographs for future talks.

I made a pretty quick walk through the garden, but then managed to make it and explore my next destination. Van Dusen

Saturday arrived and so did the Vancouver Hardy Plant Group's Fall Study Day held at the HR MacMillan Space Centre . I was one of three speakers and, WOW, what a line up it was. I think I kind of let it get to me that I would be speaking after two well known speakers and I was a bit hard on myself after the talk, but I did what I could I'm just hoping my talk and story-telling about Fragrant Plants was well received.

Hiding behind the stage flowers as attendees sit down for the lectures.

David Culp spoke on his book, The Layered Garden, and closed out the day with a talk on Galanthus

Bill Terry gave a wonderful talk about embracing natives and working with our natural landscapes.

My sincerest thanks to the South Surrey Garden Club and the Vancouver Hardy Plant Group for this wonderful experience! 



Sunday, September 15, 2013

EMERGENT comes together: A new group bringing young horticultural professionals together

After the issue of Organic Gardening magazine (that had me in it!) came out, a group was formed on Facebook to help connect young horticultural professionals online and the name "EMERGENT" was introduced and we've begun to explore who we are, what we can do, what we're promoting, and also, "why?"

There have been  multiple discussions online via Google Chats, Facebook Messenger and texts and we've all been suggesting that we have a get together in person should the right opportunity present itself.

So, the Farwest Show in Portland, OR was right around the corner. This industry trade show brings in people from across the US for meetings, seminars, and the ever popular "schmooze fest"! Realizing that a handful of people would be there, we started to organize an informal "meet and greet".

With plants being the common bond we all share, I immediately thought about Xera Plants's new retail site in Portland and asked if they would host us. Greg and Paul warmly welcomed our group and had our informal gathering!

There were many familiar faces and a few I met for the very first time in person that I met via Facebook. Western Washington was well represented with my buddies Matthew Berberich, Preston Pew, Justin Galicic, and Meagan McManus Haskins.
Matt, Justin and fellow plantsman Erik Peterson from Oregon
Kelly on the right and Jared on the left checking out succulents at Xera
Also in attendance is the remarkable Kelly Norris who is the Horticulural Manager at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden in Iowa. He is a very well known speaker, published author (which reminds me, I need to plant my Bearded Irises very soon!) and such an advocate of the up and coming generation of gardeners. Then there's Jared Barnes, who we've dubbed "The Reverend Doctor Barnes", that I finally had the great pleasure of meeting in person. This is a young man studying floriculture at North Carolina State University and is quite a character! Super nice guy, too!

Check Jared out as "SuperSeed!"  Now, you'll have to think back to your basic biology/botany classes to find it really funny, but WOW, what a courageous and enthusiastic guy!

Another young "EMERGENT" I met and actually helped me get this meeting together is a young lady named Crystal Johnson-Cady from Salem, OR. She was a busy woman coordinating speakers for the Farwest Show for the Oregon Association of Nurseries and is a proud graduate of Oregon State University studying botany and plant pathology. Her venture, Sunflower Acres Farm and Garden, is shaping up to be another busy, but exciting endeavor!

It was incredible meeting everyone this this group. I gave a little speech and acknowledged just how incredible it was to be a part of such a talented and hard working group. Each person had their own specialties, their own personalities, and I mentioned just how important their contributions are to the future of our industry. I'm so glad that I'm not alone in my aspirations.

This was just a small gathering of who's out there as there are many more across the nation, but I hope these types of gatherings continue to occur in all the different regions of not just the nation, but also around the world. We have the technology and resources to send out information much quicker than ever before and it's vital that these meet-and-greets IN PERSON events are held.  It's great to know who's who, who specializes in what and also just learn from on another to keep us driven and motivated!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thrilling Tillandsias: Summer Wedding Celebrations with Air Plants!

Tillandsias have regained such popularity the past few years thanks to a number of different designers who've utilized them extensively in products aimed towards urban dwellers who have limited time and space for plants. Flora Grubb in San Francisco is probably one of the more prominent promoters of air plants and it has truly taken off and when one comes up with a great idea and takes it to the next level, others will follow and copy!  Hhahahaha

In a way, her and her designers work inspire me to re-discover the world of Tillandsias and use them in ways I never thought I could. It's an interest and fascination I've had since I was in my preteens when I was really introduced to them by Rick Owens of Owen's Gardens. He and his wife, Barbara, have been such supporters of my career for a long time and I wanted to use their plants in my work.

Tillandsia is a genus from the family of Bromeliads, which includes the Pineapple. There are just under 600 species native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the West Indies.  I first discovered them mounted on seashells attached to magnets in grocery stores and found it absolutely fascinating that they were live plants that didn't need soil to grow.

Tillandsia straminea. A fragrant blooming species

I began collecting them and was drawn to species that had fragrant flowers. Then my interest gravitated towards outdoor plants and my collection literally dried up as I forgot to keep them misted and I didn't have a bright spot indoors to keep them happy. My interest in them never waned as I would visit Barb and Rick each year for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and check out their amazing selection.

My shipment of Tillandsias from Rick and Barb at Owen's Gardens
Assorted Tillandsias with Aeoniums
As I got more involved with floral arranging this year and began seeing Tillandsias in various designs, I decided to begin working with them again. I've found that their texture works very well with succulents (another hot and trendy thing now, too), but just as a filler and unique curiosity in a bouquet, for example, makes for a great conversation piece!!
Tillandsia xerographica

In the run up and preparation for my friend, Michelle's, wedding, she has asked me to do the flower for her whole wedding and knowing her, I wanted to create somthing absolutely unique and one of a kind. Inspired by a bouquet created by Flora Grubb's floral designer, Susie Nadler, I wanted to incorporate one of the grand daddies of all Tillandsia species commonly available to enthusiast, T. xerographica.

 You may remember Michelle from my friend, Karina's, wedding back in May. She was a bridesmaid then and now she gets to be centerstage along with her now husband, Genc, who tied the knot just North of Seattle at Michelle's former church. Again, aiming to use mostly locally grown and sourced materials, I took Michelle and Genc to the Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market and introduced them to the growers of the plants and flowers I would be using to decorate their church. I want to make a separate post about her bouquet to really showcase the variety of exquisite plants and flowers I used, but this was the grand result:

Another celebration took place shortly after Michelle and Genc's wedding. My friends and avid gardeners, Jeff Schouten and Daniel Sparler, had their wedding this February as same-sex marriage was FINALLY approved and recognized in the State of Washington. As part of their festivities, I volunteered to help prepare their garden for a summer celebration of 200+ guest. As a "thank you", they invited me to dinner where I brought Daniel a belated birthday gift of the succulents and Tillandsia composition above imbellished with a few more species and a most unusual poppy seed head, which I also used in Michelle's bouquet.

The wait staff and cooks picked up on his enthusiasm... he put it on to show!!

Who knows how long this trend will last, but I'm sure having a great time with them. The early fascination with air plants still lingers today and I continue to integrate them in a lot of my fun projects!

Have a look and tell me what you think!

I raided a friend's garden in Portland, OR and worked in a few Tillandsias in an arrangement I made for them

Marcia Donahue's "Narcissus ceramicus" flanked by succulents and more airplants!!