Sunday, March 31, 2013

San Fran Flower and Garden Show: Show Garden highlights

Ok, so it's not the Northwest, it's "different" my colleagues say....

First of all, I want to mention the positives: GEORGE HULL is the man! Hooking us up with comp tickets to the show! He's a horticulturist and plant breeder from Arizona and he was there with his students who built a wonderful show garden display and through the perks of social media, we got in for free!

Having attended the NW Flower and Garden Show for almost 17 years, I couldn't help but have a bit of an expectation when I heard of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. I've always associated the city as multicultural, cutting edge in terms of design, trendy and would pave the way with the latest in lifestyle.

So, I walked in the halls and saw this:


So yeah....

It had an interesting, almost COUNTY FAIR feel to it; a large exhibition hall minus the livestock. Then the photo below just needed a clown and maybe a few rides in the background.


Not gonna lie, this was awesome to see!

The show gardens represented a country with the overall theme of "Gardens Make the World Go Round". Let's see which countries you can identify with just the photos I took.

What I tried to look for in the show were interesting and eye-catching compositions and, of course, wonderful plants!

This composition and walk-through garden has these interesting panels and cone-shaped containers. I like the effect the grasses at the base create to make it seem like the pots are hovering just above them. The lighting and the shadows created on the panels were unique. The plant palette....meh.

Now this garden had some wonderful plants! Diverse selection of what appear to be primarily grasses, California natives and, basically, a drought tolerant landscape. It just lacks a little definition and no one plant really stands out. The stone work all around the garden was pretty cool though:




Kudos to George Hull and the students at Arizona State University who put together a display that pretty much swept all the awards!!!  Of all the gardens, it was the most complete and the different rooms show goers were able to experience was pretty well done. Their use of materials, mostly (if not all) recycled, was fantastic. They wanted to demonstrate simple vignettes that the home owner can easily build and replicate in their warm/arid landscape. More photos of their garden and how it was built in this LINK.

These faux stone walls lit from the base were very effective and done to scale very well.

And the architectural plantings of mostly desert Southwest plants were in fine display and wonderfully contrasted with the intensely colored walls.

So this was suppose to be the Philippines.

I can't remember what country they were trying to represent here, but it was both interesting and odd at the same time:


One of my favorite gardens was this simply planted space that was both comfortable and sophisticated at the same time. Wonderful specimen olives with excellent form and the paving materials were very nice. Great use of gabion walls as well.




The true centerpiece of the entire show was this phenomenal globe planted up with succulents! A mighty impressive feat!!


Then there was this:



I'm sorry I didn't have time to read the description of this garden. It was simply a "WTF??" moment.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

San Francisco Flower and Garden Show highlights

I always enjoy visiting the Bay Area of California. The mild climate and wonderful plant palette always intrigues me and it also helps that I've many family and friends to visit.

After the hoopla of the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show, I needed some down time to rest, recover and reflect on all that has happened these past few weeks.

After the show, the current issue of Organic Gardening has me featured along with a handful of other great YOUNG gardeners from around the USA and that was followed up by a podcast with Ken Druse, who wrote the article for OG.

It's been incredible and the work I've got going has been keeping me busy and a bit stressed, I just hope I learn to manage it all and find a good groove where I'm still enjoying the work I do and keeping up the level of quality I expect for my clients. Spring is here and I feel like there's no time to waste. Even on this glorious day, I have a tendency to freak out and almost guilty that I'm not gardening.

So, I was hoping to come down to the Bay Area, time it with the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show (HA! more work!!) and spend some time with a close friend to just relax and maybe head up to Sonoma/Napa.

I took this photo just to set up just how different this show is from our show here in Seattle. I was told that it was a smaller event and that it was "DIFFERENT". As always, I try my best to keep an open mind:


more soon....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show: "The Lost Gardener"

NWFGS 2013 The Lost Gardener full
Here's a slideshow of some of the moments captured of what has to be one of the highlights of my entire career. Not only did we earn a GOLD MEDAL, we won the 1st Annual Golden Palette Award for the best use of color and plant material and forced blooms, the Environmental Award from the American Horticultural Society, and the biggest surprise of all was the prestigious FOUNDER'S CUP for the Best Show Garden!

WHO KNEW??!!   I'm exceedingly proud of the team I worked with and the talent, commitment and hard work they put into making this a very successful display!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Building a show garden: MOVE-IN

It was exactly a month ago on this date that my team and I tackled the ever-daunting and carefully choreographed task of garden show move-in. It's utter organized chaos, but the staff of the convention center and the Flower and Garden Show were so tremendous and very helpful throughout the whole process. It was such a treat and an honor to work alongside such people during such a stressful and tension-filled event.

The teams of contractors I asked to help were absolutely great to work with and the hardscape they installed impressed not only show-goers, but the show managers as well which lead to comments like, "Do they know they're only building for a five day show". heheh

NWFGS 2013 Move-In Prep

This was the scene when I came in and started scoping out the site as I waited for the first of several trucks to drive in during our allotted time.

NWFGS 2013 Move-In Construction 1

It all went so quickly. It was frantic, tension filled, overwhelming, fun and I did my best to keep my cool and made sure to just trust that everything would fall into place. And slowly, it did. It was my very first time placing the rocks Clayton and I selected from Maranakos. Alejandro and his crew at Orion Rockscapes brought in the donated stone to build a striking wall...

NWFGS 2013 Construction of Gabion Wall

...and a very well executed gabion wall at the base of the dry river bed.

NWFGS 2013 Plant Delivery

One of the funnest aspects of move-in was to get the delivery of plant materials!

NWFGS 2013 Windmill Gardens deliveries

The plants brought to Windmill Gardens were absolutely spectacular and so very well grown and cared for. I was overjoyed when they arrived at the Convention Center. My many thanks to their excellent staff!.

NWFGS 2013 Lost Gardener Nurse log placement

With rocks the the most awesome logs from Carter Evans Wood Concepts in place, we stacked recycled pallets, lined them with cardboard and brought in several yards of sawdust fill until we reached the correct level for the plant material to be placed. "Skull Island" was being installed complete with stunning nurse logs Jade let me borrow to give just the right effect.

NWFGS 2013 Lost Gardener Plant Install

The carts of plants were wheeled in close by, forced bulbs from Cascade Cuts were delivered and the magic of the Flower and Garden Show begins to unfold as my team and I began placing where plants would go. Student volunteers were so much fun to work with as their enthusiasm for the selection of plants I brought together showed!

NWFGS 2013 Terry and Jade install

We worked well into the evening hours, even past midnight and, to be honest, it was actually a really nice time to actually GARDEN! The awesome lighting guys from Moon Shadow Landscape Lighting were fun to chat with as we all worked at a calm and pleasant pace and, again, the convention center staff were so very kind and understanding.

NWFGS 2013 Patty Install 1

 During the day, it was mostly smiles during a tension filled move-in, but flowers and plants have a way of making people happy!

NWFGS 2013 Scott Wu

Even at night (or when they turn the house lights off to test the theatrical lighting, we easily get lost in what we're doing. Volunteers played such an important role in creating this garden and it wouldn't have happened without each and every one of them.

It all started to come together and the result was what we had aimed for: A wild jungle with rare and unusual species of plants represented that transitioned into a more confined and rigid environment.

NWFGS 2013 Path from Wild

NWFGS 2013 View from cage 

 The rock that was suppose to look "sort of" like a skull became a skull with the help of Orion Rockscapes who practiced at home and fully went for it! Complete with a dry river bed and an exquisite array of wild alpine flowers, grasses ad succulents.

NWFGS 2013 Skull Rock plantings

 The final product.....coming soon

Building a Show Garden: Gathering of Plants!

Days leading up to the show we begin to gather up plant material from all of our sources

Here's my buddy Matt helping load up the car with plants from Ian Barclay at Desert Northwest.

They were probably the prickliest plants we had to deal with. Luckily, there was no blood shed!

Here I am selecting a specimen of Rhododendron fulvum at Chimacum Woods. It may not be flowering, but the foliage undersides are absolutely stunning and will add a lot of interest to the garden.

NWFGS 2013 Plant Transport from Edmonds CC

Friends Jeff Benca and Pete Macias load up Pete's truck to get a HUGE Norfolk Island Pine and the hardy banana, Musa basjoo, over to the convention center! My thanks to Linda at Edmonds Community College for letting us use these spectacular specimens!

So, let's get pumped up and ready for Move-In,


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Building a Show Garden: Representing the little guys: Small Specialty Nurseries

Specialty nurseries such as Mary Fisher at Cultus Bay Nursery are often far-off destinations for most Seattle residents and you'll only see them at a handful of early spring or fall plant sales.

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show can be a daunting endeavor especially for a small specialty grower. The chaos and logistics of move-in, the cost of downtown Seattle parking, and the long days dealing with hoards of flower show visitors have proved too much for the specialty grower and I had hoped to represent them through my display garden by borrowing their plants for my show garden.

The following specialty growers contributed and/or helped grow plant material for "The Lost Gardener":  

Bouquet Banque (Hardy Cyclamen, Dichroa febrifuga) Read about their nursery here  

Sparkling lapis blue Dichroa in fruit

Cascade Cuts (Forced Bulbs)

Dave with Sino GrandeChimacum Woods (Species and large leafed rhododendron) I've developed such a fondness for species rhododendrons and the people that raise them such as Steve Hootman at the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Bob Zimmerman and Beth Orling at Chimacum Woods. I went with my housemate Dave to select Rhodies for the display and found some wonderful specimens to really show folks the diversity of this genus.

Cultus Bay Nursery (Hellebores, clumping bamboos) Read about Mary and my history with her as one of my early mentors.  

Desert Northwest (Drought tolerant, succulent plants) Here's a little profile on Ian and his specialty nursery in Sequim, WA.  

Dragonfly Farms Nursery ( Assorted nursery stock including the large Schefflera macrophylla) Heidi Kaster is an absolute sweetheart and has the most random, but cool selection of various landscape plants from many sources! Here's her website: Look out for the stunning concrete eggs.

One of three large Schefflera macrophylla that will be on display. Unfortunately not hardy; however, there will be two other species represented that are for us in the Seattle/Puget Sound area: S. delavayi and S. taiwaniana

Pyrrosia sheareri

Far Reaches Farm (Assorted specialty nursery stock)
Kelly and Sue came through for me and let me use some of their fabulous plants including a rare and beautiful Pyrrosia sheareri.

Minter's Earlington Greenhouses (Saxifraga groundcovers)  Read my blurb about the guys!

Windmill Gardens (Official plant forcing facility for NWFGS)

There are a handful of other growers out there that I wish I could have represented in the garden, but I hope you'll consider learning more about them and seek out their wonder selections either at the major plant sales in the Puget Sound area or onsite on their property this coming season!