This month I had the opportunity to attend the Farwest Show in Portland, Oregon. Portland is an interesting place. One of the highlights is Powell’s Bookstore.
It’s an amazing place devoted to books and people who love books. It takes up an entire city block and is several stories high. There are tables and shelves with staff picks and suggested reads. There are sections with every topic imaginable and even a rare book area enclosed in a protective glass room. I love the botany/plant section. There are so many titles and so much variety, it’s like I’ve entered Amazon.com, but I can touch everything! I also like the bonus of having new and used books mixed together, so you can always find something that fits your budget. I have been to other bookstores recently looking for Robert Powers books, only to find his latest, The Overstory, but only his latest and no others. The Overstory is excellent, I just read it and wanted to explore more works by Powers, but no one else had more, except Powell’s. They had five or six titles by this author. I was so excited. Besides the thousands of books in the store, I love the excellent service. There are information booths on each floor, staffed with lovely people who can point you in the right direction. It’s a wondrous place, go there at your first opportunity!
Another great thing about Portland is the food and drink. We had some delicious meals and I discovered this new soda that I absolutely love. I was passing through the Green Zebra Market and tried a sample of Small Barrel Shrub, Natural Balsamic Soda, Cascadia Raspberry. It was soooo good! Just what I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I’ve been on a balsamic vinegar kick for a while now, salad dressings, avocado toast, etc. And to find it in a light, fruity, sparkling soda, wow! It was just the right balance of sweet and tart. I absolutely love this new soda. I hope it comes to the Seattle area soon. It’s brilliant.
And now to the show. Farwest Show calls itself the biggest green industry show in the West. It showcases trends, insights, ideas, new plants and state-of-the-art products. I thoroughly enjoyed learning new things and networking with many fascinating people. The first stop for me was the New Plants Showcase. Some of my favorites were the Hosta ‘Waterslide’ with curvy undulating leaf margins, Double Play Doozie Spirea, which blooms from summer until frost, Maui Wormwood, an Artemesia that has feather soft silver foliage, At Last Rose, a beautiful sunset orange color, Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha Mountain Hydrangea, a lacecap with extra large blooms, Heuchera ‘Wildberry’ has large scalloped leaves that are a vibrant purple, Toll Gate Canyon Southwest Heritage Oak is grafted with drought tolerant rootsock and only grows to 20 feet, Rockin’ Fuchsia Salvia has an amazing deep pink/purple color and Superstar Coreopsis has extra big flowers that are bright yellow and deep orange.
My next stop after seeing and breathing green was to take in some educational seminars. This year did not disappoint as I learned and was enlightened on many levels. I heard Dr. Allan Armitage speak about perennials. The title was ‘If we expect people to buy them we better sell the good stuff’. He discussed plants such as Echinacea that have so many varieties, some far better than others. He likes The Sombrero Series. He suggested that it is use rather than the plant that is important. Where have I heard that before? Right plant, right place!
I don’t know his opinion of this gorgeous yellow Echinacea, but my guess is it’s an annual in many gardens. I was fascinated by the talk by Dr. Hannah Mathers called Let’s Drift apart. She reminded us that in the past we had weeds in our agricultural fields. It was accepted. Then genetically modified (GMO) crops came out in the early 1990’s. Now 90% of corn and soybeans grown in the USA are glyphosate resistant. The problem this leads to, Dr. Mathers taught us, is that the weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate, so more herbicides are getting put on the crops, leading to ‘super weeds’. The non-target crop injury increases but the target weeds persist. She told us the bigger issue is zero tolerance for weeds and that this philosophy will not work. Speaking of drift, she said that the injury is non-uniform and herbicides can carry over in a plant, moving to the growing points and affecting the terminals and diameter. This can produce a reduction in growth for several years. Eeek! Too many chemicals in our world. I’m going to work on my organic garden and helping others learn how to grow organically as well.
Another fascinating seminar was by Robin Rosetta of Oregon State University. She told us about the development of the Intelligent Spray System. With laser guided technology this sprayer can reduce the amount of pesticide applied by 40-70%. This also comes with a 50% reduction in labor. What a great solution to reduce pesticides in our environment.
I also had the pleasure of hearing Leslie Halleck, CPH, speak on the topic ‘Maximize your power as a woman in the workforce’. She made some excellent points and generated good discussion with the group. I appreciated her message about making connections with all ages. ‘Value the energy, drive and passion of youth, and respect the tempered experience and wisdom of age.’ It was a great presentation and I hope to hear her speak again.
Another fun part of Farwest is walking the show floor and seeing the beautiful displays from all the West Coast nurseries. Some of my favorites were Suncrest Nursery from Watsonville, CA. They had Crinodendron hookerianum! A somewhat rare and beautiful plant which I love. I also have a fondness for all the color and texture and beauty of the conifers at Iseli Nursery. I saw this little cutie, Pinus strobus ‘Wiggles’ that resembles one of my all time favorites ‘Mini Twists’.
There are so many interesting people to talk with and I enjoyed meeting new people and spending time with old friends. And of course my trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of my favorite spots in Portland, the rose garden, a wonderful place.