Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Birthday Week - Hardy Plant Study Weekend, Vancouver, B.C.

What an exhausting, but fun and productive summer it's been so far!

As of Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013, I'm 31 years old and this next generation gardener has been busy busy busy! Last weekend, I had the fortune of getting a last minute registration for the Hardy Plant Study Weekend up in Vancouver, B.C. It sold out quickly and it didn't even occur to me until a colleague asked if I was staying in the dormitories at UBC (University of British Columbia). Lucky for me, I have family up in Vancouver, one of my most favorite cities in the world, that I was able to stay with should I get picked from the waiting list.

I was thrilled to have taken part and even more excited of the many people, many who I've never met, come and greet me! A handful congratulated me for the display garden at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and then a handful of folks, who heard that I'd be speaking for their Hardy Plant group this autumn, were so delighted to meet me. Not gonna lie, it almost felt a little like being a celebrity. It felt so good to know that people knew who you were and were excited to learn more.

Plant Sale Area
The vendors for the 2013 Hardy Plant Study Weekend
Yet again, I was the "kid" in the auditorium where the lectures were held. It was these study weekends that really brought landscape design to life for me. I remember many years ago when I first attended one as a teenager at the University of Washington and getting a scholarship to take part in the study weekend and open gardens. I didn't have my drivers license yet and I remember getting rides to the open gardens and truly getting a feel for what was horticulturally possible here and the extravagance many landscapes possessed. It is my hope that other young garden/plant enthusiast would get this kind of experience and mentoring. The main demographic of this group is getting older and it becomes harder and harder to take part in all the garden tours, sales, and other events on the horticultural calendar. It also doesn't help that some events take place when we young ones have to work and make a living. =(

As a "veteran" of the study weekend, I felt energized and ready to make another impression in some ways. The plant sales were absolutely fantastic and they were even set up for exporting the plants back to the United States with Department of Agriculture officials issuing phytosanitary certificates! I showed great restraint and did not buy one plant! I know...I know....

Mens Restroom Flowers
You knew you were in the right place as even the men's restroom was decorated with fresh cuts!

Riz and John MasseyThe line-up of speakers was top notch as it usually is. I had the fortune of meeting Mr. John Massey who runs the infamous Ashwood Nurseries in the UK, who are know for their remarkable Hellebores, Hepaticas, and other rare and unusual selections and also great garden plants. He gave a fantastic talk about his garden and the lessons he's learned in each season of gardening and on the last day, he spoke on the breeding work they do and the advancements they've made. Truly inspiring and a most hilarious speaker as his nerves quickly turned into a charming charisma once he got his laser pointer under control! I ran into him at an open garden and introduced himself. So on my next adventure to the UK, I must pay him a visit and see his incredible work in person!

 It was so great running into friends at these events. It was an opportunity to catch up with people and also team up with those with cars who had an open seat when it came to visiting the regions many fine gardens.

Meghan and Colleen embraceI ran into fellow plant nut and garden designer, Meghan Fuller (left) who was joined by avid gardening enthusiast, Colleen Gray. They happen to have an extra seat and kindly let me join them during the tours. We were probably the youngest attendees there and it was nice to have company who were so easy going and so very enthusiastic!

We were all certainly in for a treat and, boy, were the gardens ever so manicured to perfection. It was remarkable to see the diverse styles and different scales and approaches to gardening in Vancouver, B.C.

Back Lawn
Some gardens were simple and comfortable
Bedding with stone pavers
Some were just jammed packed with color, texture, and precision in mind.

Some gardens were just unbelievable and ridiculously wealthy with amazing views.
Summer Border
For me, it's always about the plants, the combinations and how they're utilized to define space.

Slope Planting for scale
And to see the scale and diversity of Pacific Northwest horticulture.

Here were some lovely plant combinations

 Astrantia with Angelica

Light blue and silver combination

Corydalis and Geum 

Allium with Physocarpus 1

Probably the most spectacular and inspiring garden had to be this striking landscape

Curved Paths

I'm normally not a fan of large lawn space, but there's something about how this was design that just drew you in and you know that there was more to see beyond, but you had to take your time to admire the plant collections and all the subtleties that were so carefully planted.

Gentiana asclepiadae with lawn background
Just imagine the striking blue flowers of the willow gentian (Gentiana asclepidaea) with the Japanese Forest Grass!
Cardiocrinum giganteum v. yunnanense
Becoming more readily available, this stunning Cardiocrinum gigantuem v. yunnanese was wonderful!

Of course, a trip up to Vancouver wouldn't be a complete trip without a visit to Van Dusen Botanical Garden!

Van Dusen building

Golden Roses with Nepeta 2

It was a very short visit to Van Dusen as I had to rush to join the ladies for dinner!   LOL 
Yes, there are food pics!