A Report from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Orchids in one of the show gardens at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

I’m back from speaking at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. What a whirlwind trip and a breath of Spring! My suitcases are bulging with gifts, and I also snuck in a few dahlias and a peony I’ve never grown, ‘Myrtle Gentry.’ I’m told it truly is dinner-plate sized. Time to buy another peony support.

I bought several dahlias on my last day at the show. In keeping with trying not to grow every single thing I see, I bought two each of three varieties.
I bought several dahlias on my last day at the show. In keeping with trying not to grow every single thing I see, I bought two each of three varieties.

Friends, Leslie from Growing a Garden in Davis and Cindy From My Corner of Katy gave me a dahlia from Swan Island Dahlias called ‘Tutti Frutti.’ A group of us are growing this dahlia all over the U.S. to see how it performs. As you know dahlias in Oklahoma aren’t the easiest thing ever, but I am often successful with them if I get them started early. Since I have so many this early in the season, I’m going to pot them up today in the greenhouse to get them off to a good start. However, I’ve also planted them straight outside when the weather is consistently warm. I think, with dahlias the thing to remember is they come from the mountains of Mexico. That means they don’t love super hot weather so I grow them on the east side of my house or allow them to mingle in the partial shade of a rose bush. That’s what I’ve done with ‘Juanita,’ one of my favorites. I also don’t dig them every year. You can if you like, but I’m often too busy and worn out to mess with it. Usually, they come back unless we’ve had a horrid winter. It’s a crap shoot really.

El Patio Fuente, by Treeline Designz 360° Design Company and built by Calluna's Gardens incorporated a lot of tulips and a full sized fountain in its warm-hued design.
El Patio Fuente, by Treeline Designz 360° Design Company and built by Calluna’s Gardens incorporated a lot of tulips and a full-sized fountain in its warm-hued design.

Back to the show…When you walk into the building with the show gardens, there is an overwhelming scent of spring with hyacinths, tulips and other bulbs in bloom. Garden designers work for months to get everything to burst into bloom at just the right moment for the show’s five days. Trees are blooming too. Also, this year, there was a garden designed entirely with orchids. I do love the complexity of these fabulous plants.

Notice the blown glass salmon swimming upstream in this garden called Discovering Alaska at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
Notice the blown glass salmon swimming upstream in this garden called Discovering Alaska at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

My two favorite gardens were also favorites of the judges: “Discovering Alaska” by Adam Gorski Landscapes, Inc. and “The Tiny Tetons” by Nature Perfect Landscape and Design and The Barn Nursery, both in Olympia, Washington. For more about the gardens, just click on the link.

This show garden, The Tiny Tetons, won a gold medal at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. What looks like blue sky is actually a backdrop, and the Snake River is composed of tiny Iris reticulata. It's a very clever three-dimensional trompe l'oeil. Kind of.
This show garden, The Tiny Tetons, won a gold medal at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. What looks like blue sky is actually a backdrop, and the Snake River is composed of tiny Iris reticulata. It’s a very clever three-dimensional reversal of trompe l’oeil.

Here’s a closeup of that “river” again.

Iris reticulata and sedum creating a river and its bank in the The Tiny Tetons at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
Iris reticulata and sedum creating a river and its bank in the The Tiny Tetons at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

If I sound a bit euphoric, it’s probably jet lag, but I had the best time. I always do. I spoke twice, once on Friday–I got to be on a panel with Ruth Rogers Clausen. Oh my! Later, we went out to dinner with Danielle Ernest, another dear friend. I also spoke on Saturday to a very receptive after-lunch crowd. I was surprised they weren’t sleepier. I talked about dream balconies, decks and patios in my first talk as part of a Gardening 101 series on small, urban spaces. Since the theme of this year’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show was America the Beautiful, I treated my talk like a travelogue. We had fun. Saturday’s talk was “Ten Steps on the Gardening Path to Happiness.” I love encouraging gardeners in all stages. In between times, I attended the Tweetup on Thursday morning and snapped a shot of Danger Garden in her spiky element. She loves desert plants and lives in Portland. Don’t we always love the gardens that are hardest for us to grow? It’s a great way to stretch our creative muscles. Later, that night a group of us went out to dinner. More fun.

Loree from Danger Garden in front of her favorite type of gardening.
Loree from Danger Garden in front of her favorite type of gardening.

On my last day after my talk, I ran down to the Pike Place Market and stopped in at Le Panier for some macarons. Macarons are made with egg whites and almond flour so they are usually gluten if not dairy free. Still, check with the bakery of your choice before you buy. I wouldn’t want to make you go astray. Here are mine. They were so good. I bought enough to share with my family. A taste of Paris in Seattle. C’est bon!

A rainbow of macarons from La Panier in Seattle. --Dee Nash
A rainbow of macarons from La Panier in Seattle.

If you ever get the chance to visit Seattle, be sure to make a stop in this tiny bakery. If you can eat gluten, you’ll find a lot more pastries and bread on offer. If you can visit during the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, that would be even better.

Post Alley wall in Seattle. --Dee Nash
Post Alley wall in Seattle.

On the walk back to the hotel, I ended up in Post Alley site of street art and the famous bubblegum wall. I’ll leave you to your own thoughts about it.

 

 

 

It is well with my garden

November 5, and it is well with my garden. Gradually, flowers are slowing down, but roses were still blooming in the blustery day that preceded yesterday’s rain. ‘Carefree Beauty’ seems to have come out of her slump of two months and is blooming freely now. She grows near two roses that died of Rose Rosette Disease so I expect her to come down with it. I will enjoy her as long as I can. I did take some cuttings of ‘Carefree Beauty’ last year, and one is growing in the bed facing the street. So far, the street bed, as I’m now calling it, hasn’t seen any RRD. ‘Belinda’s Dream’ is also looking mighty fine.

Rosehips on Rosa 'Baseye's Blueberry' are a lovely bright orange.
Rosa ‘Carefree Beauty’ strutting her stuff with maiden hair grass.

My garden’s daily story is being told more now in berries, stems and leaves than in flowers. This is as it should be.

Rosehips on Rosa 'Baseye's Blueberry' are a lovely bright orange.
Rosehips on Rosa ‘Baseye’s Blueberry’ are a lovely bright orange. If you’re looking for a moderately-sized rosebush without prickles (thorns), this is a good one.

The mums which took so long to flower are now doing so with abundance. I am grateful for their late show. So are the few pollinators left flying about. I saw one Monarch today. She is late. I hope she laid eggs on the swamp milkweed in another bed.

Monarch shyly hiding on 'Will's Wonderful' mum. If you can only have one mum, this should be the one.
Monarch shyly sipping from ‘Will’s Wonderful’ mum. If you can only have one mum, this should be the one.

My recent posts on annual and tropical plants and fall-blooming plants for pollinators were information driven. This one is more personal. Fall has made me reflective, and this year, with one child grown, two children in college and the youngest a sophomore in high school, my life is quickly changing. That’s the thing about life and gardening. You practice–you think you have them down, but then life or Mother Nature changes up the game plan. Having my children grow up is exciting because it marks a new chapter in our relationship and mine with Bill, but it’s also a very big change.

Pink Knockout rose framed by one of the arbors. So far, the two Pink Knockouts remain healthy. Only time will tell. 'Haight Ashbury' hibiscus in front of the fence and post Bill rebuilt a few weeks ago with Brennan's help.
Pink Knockout rose framed by one of the arbors. So far, the two Pink Knockouts remain healthy. Only time will tell. ‘Haight Ashbury’ hibiscus in front of the fence and post Bill rebuilt a few weeks ago with Brennan’s help.

It’s a good thing I’m pretty good with change.

Gomphrena globosa QIS Pink is stunning in the street garden. I love those QIS varieties.
Gomphrena globosa QIS Pink is stunning in the street garden. I love those QIS varieties except white. White gomphrena is boring unless you’re at Sissinghurst.

There is always work to do in the garden which helps me miss the children less.

Bill made it his mission to get water inside the greenhouse. It has flood tables, but I found it easier to water with a spray rose. After I sold an article last year, I bought this very pricey, but wonderful Haws Watering Wand. We knew some people who could bore beneath the greenhouse floor and place a water spigot. At first, the floor buckled from the work, but the bricks that were set in sand soon settled. I asked Bill to place the faucet under one table so I can still pot things up in the greenhouse end. That meant moving it over. I am grateful I have a husband who takes on these projects. I’ll do a post on the water and some greenhouse musing in a few days.

The red fountain needs to be taken down to find a leak. That will be quite the garden chore. Last year, we left it in place and heated it.
The red fountain needs to be taken down to find a leak. That will be quite the garden chore. Last year, we left it in place and heated it.

Together, Bill and I are taking down the fountain this year instead of heating and leaving it in place. It takes both of us to move the large red pot. We’re looking for a leak that kept us filling the fountain every couple of days all summer. We want to be able to leave it for longer than a week for vacation. I think we accidentally pierced the liner with the grating system when we reinstalled it two years ago. Above, Bill replaced several rotted fence posts with Brennan’s help. This must be done every couple of years somewhere on the extensive split-rail fencing in our yard.

There is talk of the garden being on tour next year and in 2017 so I’ve been ordering garden markers and making plans for if and when it happens. Garden chores are necessary and keep us active in winter. So does the treadmill or walks outdoors. It’s important to stay in shape as much as possible so we’re ready when spring comes.

It will come again you know.

Viola cornuta Penny Deep Blue really does glow like this. I almost wrench my neck as I drive in everyday because of its luminescence.
Viola cornuta Penny Deep Blue really does glow like this. I almost wrench my neck as I drive in everyday from swiveling to take in its luminescence.

It rained. Those two words mean everything. So many times this year rain bypassed the central part of Oklahoma favoring the drought-stricken western counties. My friends on the western plains need rain even more than I, but still, my pond may never be the same. More people moved near my oasis outside the city in the last five years than have in the last twenty, and they built large expensive subdivisions.These landscapes also pull water from the aquifer beneath us, and we’ve had drought, so….

You get the picture.

My tiny chokecherry tree, Prunus virginiana, is loaded with berries this year.
My tiny chokecherry tree, Prunus virginiana, is loaded with berries this year.

My garden is finally turning out in its fine fall colors. As the leaves drop, the garden will soon be down to stems as bare as bones. Winter is a long season, and it’s a good idea to pick plants with good bones and make sure the garden has them too. A few evergreens help, but Oklahoma has almost none that are native so we do our best with interesting grasses and many non-native shrubs to carry us through to March and April when the eternal dance begins again.

Climbing aster, Aster carolinianus syn. Ampelaster carolinianus, in bloom.
Climbing aster (Aster carolinianus syn. Ampelaster carolinianus in bloom.

Try not to be sad about the lessening light each passing day. Not long from now, December 21 will be upon us, and the days will slowly begin to lengthen again. Plus, after Christmas, we can all make plans for seeds to buy, and plants to start indoors and out. We’ll try new annuals, perennials and vegetables. New varieties of tomatoes are always a treat. I know that spring seems far away so let’s just stay in this autumnal moment because there is much to celebrate here.

It is well with my garden. How is it with yours?