This was a fun garden to drink in at the Flower and Garden show, looking at all the contrasts and realizing there was a story. Here’s the theme created by Wight’s Home and Garden: These two neighboring gardens portray how opposites attract. She lives in a 50’s style ultra feminine environment surrounded by a colorful garden. He relishes their lively telephone repartee while ensconced in his favorite chair. His garden is simple and the perfect backdrop for an evening cocktail. The two are separated by only a white picket fence, so you can assume there’s a sequel in the works. Do you think men and women need their own separate gardens?
This beach garden at the 2013 Flower and Garden Show was a delight. It was created by Plantswoman Design Inc. and I was attracted to it right away with it’s coastal theme and cool plants. It featured drought tolerant coastal and unusual plants. One of my favorites was Scilla peruviana. This bold bulb was just beginning to bloom, shooting out little blue stars. I loved it! I also liked the moon snail shells around the plants and the brilliant blue pillar. A perfect get away!
The 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden show offered garden displays in small spaces but packed with big ideas. Here is a sampling of these designs!
The plants were the stars at this display from the Northwest Flower and Garden show. The Lost Gardener was created by RHR Horticulture and Landwave Gardens and won the the Founders cup, which is the best in show. In their words: A journey form the wild to the cultivated, this garden takes on the themes from the following motion pictures: ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘King Kong’, and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. It showcases an extraordinary diverse plant palette that symbolizes a gardener’s quest for the rarest, most unusual plants. I loved the way the garden was raised up several feet, bringing the plants closer to eye level. This really made a difference to me. They were ‘in my face’ and I could appreciate the finer details, the shades and shapes and contrasts in the dim lighting of the show. That I didn’t like, it was a bit too dark for me and I liked the early hours before the show opened when the lights were turned all the way up. But the plants! There were eighty plants listed in their garden! 80! That’s the kind of number one expects at a Flower and Garden show! Tiger Eyes Abutilon was dazzling in red and yellow, Cardiocrinum was so tall and prehistoric, Rhododendron was a translucent candy pink and Podophyllum had that amazing sunburst leaf. I wish I could go back and identify all the plants now, I definitely didn’t have time to spy all eighty in this beautiful display.
This was one of my top gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I loved all the conifers and the serene setting. This garden was created by TreeLine Designz International as a retreat for a legendary martial arts master. In their words: The courtyard garden uses bonsai, bamboo, bulbous plants and other species to create a soothing place for meditation. Natural stone sculptures, lanterns and benches, and handmade metal prayer wheels accentuate spiritual elements of this garden. There were so many beautiful elements. The bonsai trees are always captivating and I often pause a moment when I walk by them. One of my favorite plants was the pine with the wavy needles (Pinus parviflora I think). It looked soft and touchable, giving off the feeling of movement with those waves. I really like seeing all the contrasts that the designers created with foliage…few flowers needed here!
Of all the gardens at the 2013 Northwest Flower and Garden Show, A Hobbit’s New Zealand Garden was my favorite. No fancy paths, patios, staircases or dining sets, it was all about plants. Finally, order in the universe! There was one cute little hobbit house, but even it’s roof was made of plants. I like how everything was tied together with moss and ferns and diminutive plants. This garden was created by the Washington Park Arboretum to celebrate the New Zealand forest which will be opening in the fall. I wasn’t the only one who was wowed by this garden. It won six top awards, including the People’s Choice, an award voted by the public. From the garden description: A spectacular tree fern stands sentry nearby. Next to the house is a bog exuberant with colorful New Zealand flax (Phormium). Low-lying fog over the wetland creates drama and mystery. The foliage of variegated Coprosma, Corokia, and Veronica (Hebe) add color to the display. Clematis ‘Avalanche’ drapes from the top of the house. The garden features drought-tolerant plants, most of which are suitable for growing in the Pacific Northwest gardens. The use of foliage to create a rich color palette is a key design element. A new plant for me was Coprosma or mirror bush. The glossy leaves were rich with color and I admired this evergreen shrub, although it appears to more comfortable in zone 9 rather than our zone 8. Another plant that caught my attention was the celery pine, or Phyllocladus alpinus, such a cute little coniferous shrub. Alas, not hardy in the PNW, but they suggest use as an indoor plant. It was fun to see this collection of New Zealand plants and I look forward to the new display at the arboretum!
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!