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!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Upcoming Events: Saturday, September 7th

I feel silly promoting two events, both of which are happening at the same time, but both are awesome and well worth attending. If you can make it to both, then you're simply insane and I'll LOVE IT! Hahaha

So, the famed Heronswood Nursery will be opening its gates for you all to see the wonderful progress being made to restore the grounds to its former splendor. This garden open will also showcase the wonderful specialty nurseries in our region that will come together and offer a wonderful assortment of exciting and rare plants that will be fully grown and ready to get established in your garden!

One of the vendors in attendance is someone I've been wanting to introduce you all to and is looking for some support for an upcoming PLANT COLLECTING EXPEDITION in China!  Arlen Hill of Keeping it Green Nursery has been a regular participant in all the major plant sales and garden events the past few years! Specializing in native and rare exotics, he grows a wonderful assortment of specialty plants for not only collectors, but for avid enthusiasts who like to putter around the yard, but are seeking something unique and different. Arlen is a fellow "Next Generation Gardener" in his 30's and is an avid hiker and this will be his first foray into the wilds of China botanizing and collecting plants!

Visit his tables and check out his great plants and ask about how you can contribute towards this venture or if you can't make it, visit their website and you can make a contribution online!!!!!!!


Ok! And here's another event you'll also want to attend!! HAHAHAHA....

I'm giving at talk at the famous Christianson's Nursery up in Mt. Vernon!!    I ran into them at the Flower and Garden Show and seemed so stoked to have me come and give a talk!!!

I'll be presenting a talk about my travels, experiences and what I see is the future of gardening and horticulture and those who have inspired and mentored me and also those who are joining me as the next generation of gardeners!

I had a chance to visit this remarkable nursery this summer and was quite impressed at their gardens, their plant selection and the wonderful country feel walking through the grounds and greenhouses packed of wonderful goodies. I'm so looking forward to this talk and I hope enough people have signed up!!

I hate to have to choose, myself, but I kind of have to choose MYSELF to attend MY OWN talk! HAHAHA

Either way, you'll have a wonderful time, a great opportunity to learn and shop, but you might come home with a cool new plant if you attend my talk! HAHAHAH!!!



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Vashon Island Garden and Nursery Excursion

Our fun group of avid plantspeople gathered once again to spend a day and explore the gardening scene across the pond about a month ago. This time it was the island of Vashon.

Vashon Island is the largest island in Puget Sound and a 25 minute ferry ride from West Seattle. With mostly rural country living, those seeking quiet solitude and space in which to farm and garden will make Vashon home. It's certainly one of the best places to retire in our area, but many of its residents work in Seattle or Tacoma.

We met up to see two private gardens and a destination nursery I've only heard about, but never had an opportunity to go. This has been such a remarkable summer. With no recordable amount of precipitation for the month of July, we've been blessed with sunshine, heat and, if you kept things watered, a lush garden such as this.

 Our team this time included a few members of our Heronswood group this spring: Meghan Fuller, Dustin Schulte, and Justin Galicic. We were joined my Preston Pew and Grace Hensley, two very talented individuals and plant lovers.

Dustin is actually a Vashon resident with his partner and we've been trying to find an opportunity to visit so we had the pleasure of checking out his property and work in progress. It was definitely a reality check just to see how much work goes into having a home and property in the island. While it may be peaceful, quiet, content with the potential for such a lavish landscape around you, the upkeep and maintenance involved is something most young couples are probably not prepared for, but they've tackled it and have made remarkable progress. It will be exciting to see them settle in and grow with the property. Dustin has his own garden maintenance firm called D&A Gardens.

Grace gives Meghan some tips on using her new camera
Grace Hensley is a young woman who's gardening prowess and keen eye is no surprise in the Pacific Northwest gardening scene as her mother is the well know photographer, Lynne Harrison. Lynne has done the photography for numerous books including all of Dan Hinkley's titles and she continues to photograph and it's only natural that she share her talents with her young daughter. Grace has a fun blog called eTilth where you can see some of her wonderful photos and experiences as an urban gardener.

and I'm sure they took a much  better photo of this stunning combination

A stunning Nicotiana or Flowering Tobacco

Can you tell what the soil pH might be?

The always lovely Hydrangea 'Izu No Hana'

The second garden we visited has this incredible chess set integrated into their manicured lawn

Meghan enjoys the soft fragrance of Phlox paniculata

Finally, we went to grab food and later hit up DIG Nursery where I finally had a chance to meet the lovely Sylvia Matlock. This nursery has always been known for their unique design ideas, fantastic containers and a plethora of unusual plants! We certainly came away with several purchases and we all chipped in for a gift certificate for Preston who was celebrating a birthday with us!

A creative idea using hardy succulents as a hanging orb

Meghan with a giant Angelica gigas!!

Awesome gabion walls at the nursery entry!

Eryngium agavifolium always looks striking backlit!

One plant that caught my eye and had to ask about: Cyperus glaber. A striking texture!
Straight out of Jurassic Park or "The Lost Gardener", the best stand of Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant'!

It's been such a treat to join these folks and marvel at the great gardens we've got here! There's still so much to explore around Vashon; I'm anxious to return!