This display garden, titled Living Amongst the Stars, at the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show was created by WSNLA and Sublime Garden Design. I volunteered for a couple of hours on Friday to answer plant questions. Almost all of them were about the plant with the big yellow flowers. The one that looked like a trumpet. Yes, it was a gorgeous specimen of Brugmansia or Angels Trumpet that captured all the attention. It was blooming profusely and was stunning during our cold winter days. It was paired with lovely light yellow abutilon ‘Canary Bird’ and the two seemed to mingle and dance together perfectly. Both blossoms suspended like golden bells ready to ring if a gentle breeze drifted by. A sharp contrast was the Monkey Puzzle Tree directly behind these flowers, showing off it’s dark spiky leaves against the billowy yellow flowers. Also beneath the Monkey Puzzle was a Golden Smokebush which seemed to light up the garden. I wasn’t as interested in looking at the chairs and decks and tables in all the gardens as I was in the plants, but most of the gardens seemed focused on the hardscape. There were interesting plants and intriguing combinations, but these seemed secondary in many of the gardens. Not all, but many.
Several gardens featured raised platform like the one here and I wondered, with most of our yards, won’t this just look right into the neighbors yard? What is the purpose of being ten feet off the ground? A grown-up tree house! Maybe if there were a lake beneath, it might be fun. People had a hard time figuring out that the container of water was a hot tub and not just a water feature. It didn’t seem to have anywhere to climb in or sit on. Another issue I had was plant hardiness. There were several indoor plants scattered in the display, as well as some borderline plants, like the shining Angels Trumpet. Everyone kept asking ‘Can I grow that here?’ Maybe. If you have a warm microclimate. If you bring it inside every winter. If you baby it. If you take cuttings and start them over every year. If you really,really care a lot and if you want to go through all this work! With so many amazing plants that grow in the Pacific Northwest, why practice zone denial at the garden show? The garden designers admitted it was all for color and effect and not about growing a garden. Hmmm, I guess if we know what to expect, why not? The extra effects of lighting and music really created a beautiful atmosphere in this garden and even though I wanted more plants and less stuff, I enjoyed Living Amongst the Stars!