Right now, the NW Flower and Garden Show is going on at the Seattle Convention Center – www.gardenshow.com. A great excuse to go into the city and jump-start your spring gardening juices. As always, the seminars are not to be missed. I picked Wednesday this year so that I could see Stephen Orr (Tomorrow’s Garden), Rosalind Creasy, the fairy godmother of edible landscaping and a very enthusiastic Jamie Durie who entertained the crowd while AV issues were worked out. I picked up Rosalind’s revised edible bible – Edible Landscaping - which I already have my nose in. Seminars continue Friday-Sunday with a roster of speakers that reads like “Who’s Who” of the gardening scene. Don’t miss it!
Archive for the ‘garden information sources’ Category
Late February in Seattle usually marks the unofficial kick off of spring (uh…not this year) and the return of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. As always, I picked a day with promising seminars, packed up Owen for an adventure at Adam’s work and headed into the city for the show. And while it felt more like early January, I bundled up for the cold ferry ride (yes, that is outside when traveling with dog) and was determined to enjoy the day.
Every year, there is at least one lecturer that makes the trip worth it. In the past, that roster of notables has included Bernard Trainor, John Greenlee and Nori Pope. This year, it was Dan Pearson. I was very inspired by Dan’s lecture and images. Being a student of naturalistic design as well as becoming more attuned to cultivating a sense of place, I found Dan’s work to be quite moving. If you are headed to the show, do try to catch his other presentation or if you miss him, check out his work online at www.danpearsonstudio.com. On the other hand, I was much disappointed that Santa Monica based landscape architect Nancy Goslee Power (www.nancypower.com) was ill and could not make it up from LA to lecture. I consoled myself by ordering her book ‘Power of Gardens’. I hope she feels better soon and maybe comes next year. My other vote for 2012 would be for uber cool Flora Grubb to pay us a visit from San Francisco…(www.floragrubb.com)
While the lectures never disappoint, the display gardens were a bit overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely bow down to the incredible amount of enthusiasm, planning and work that must go into each display. However, the number of plants and features stuffed into each square foot is frightening (do NOT try this at home). Perhaps next year’s theme should be “Less is More.” There also seemed to be more plants used this year that are not hardy in our climate. I might be a little disgruntled since I had to cover my tender plants for the umpteenth time this week as we face an unseasonably late hard freeze. Believe me, I love echeveria like nobody’s business, but after having the opportunity to use them in their preferred habitat down south, it feels odd to use them here (except containers, where they are always fabulous). Kind of like the polar bear at the LA Zoo that had the blue painted concrete habitat instead of ice. Something is wrong with this picture.
I found myself gravitating to the container displays - particularly Wendy Welch’s monochromatic layout with a limited plant palette. Very nice. There were also eye-catching gargantuan containers on display in the vendor booths and gardens. I was particularly smitten with an enormous Vietnamese rustic urn that was the centerpiece of the lovely rain garden display. I have been looking for this exact size and shape and was thrilled to find another wholesale source of Vietnamese rustics in Seattle – Champa Ceramics (www.champaceramics.com).
Overall, it was worth the cold boat ride. So glad we did not get any snow in the city today and keeping my fingers crossed for decent weather through the weekend so lots of folks can enjoy the show.
A development project in my town recently made me ponder plant salvage. The project in question involves the removal of existing landscaping around a parking lot, some of which is native and certainly salvageable. There are also hardscape elements that can be reused - such as well aged boulders. I often come across this in my work where an existing garden is being renovated and many of the plants are going be replaced or at a minimum divided and thinned. I always think that there must be someone who would love to have these plants. The question is who and how do you find them? For homes scheduled for demolition, there are organizations you can call in to strip the home to reduce the material going into landfill. What is the landscaping equivalent?
Connecting developers with the folks that are willing to salvage and remove plants is the solution. For native plants, I was happy to find a wealth of organizations in Western Washington that salvage native plants for reuse simply by googling “plant salvage.” If you are building a new home or commercial development, the following organizations may be interested in salvaging plants from your property. For any green construction or development, native plant salvage should be on the agenda:
King County Native Plant Salvage: ww.kingcounty.gov/environment/stewardship/volunteer/plant-salvage-program.aspx
Snohomish County Native Plant Program: www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Public_Works/Divisions/SWM/Work_Areas/Outreach/Native_Plants/event.htm
Native Plant Salvage Foundation (Thurston County): www.nativeplantsalvage.org/about.php
Mercer Island Native Plant Salvage: www.miparks.org/salvage.htm
Native Plant Salvage Alliance (Pierce County): http://www.ssstewardship.org/salvage_guide.htm
Also, Sound Native Plants has posted this handy information sheet with tips for salvaging natives in Western Washington:
For non-native salvage, there may not be as much infrastructure, however there are still some options:
1) craigslist: A friend shared with me his success story about revamping his garden. He placed mature rhodies, arborvitae and large boulders on craigslist for free and found happy recipients for all, some of whom gave a hand to the removal process. It’s a worth a try, though do be cautious about who you allow to come on your property to remove things from both a personal and property liability standpoint.
2) Master Gardeners: Master Gardeners often host plant sales, and the plant material sold is generally donated. If the timing is right for a sale, there may be interest in salvaging plants.
2) Local gardening clubs: Gardeners love new plants, and know to come prepared to pot.
3) Landscapers: Ditto above, except these folks have equipment for those larger specimens.
4) Your gardening friends: Have a open day with the motto “bring shovel, soil and pots” and you can provide the treats.
While returning plants to the earth (e.g. composting) may not have quite the same impact as construction materials in landfill, there are still resources expended with producing ornamentals for sale, and certainly mounds of merit in saving native plants from the chopping block. I know I am definitely going to think of all the ways to salvage plants when possible, and certainly will encourage the folks I know to do so as well.
Remember, this work is better done in the cooler seasons. Here in the Pacific Northwest, fall is an ideal time to transplant trees and shrubs. When transplanting, make sure to get as much of the root ball as possible, and remind those who are transplanting that the plants will need plenty of water at planting and continued watering until establishment. For extra large specimens, consider root pruning in advance to reduce shock.
I am always on the hunt for garden goodies to add to my design line up for clients. I generally find it necessary to purchase at least one for myself to have on hand to show clients. This has led to Adam declaring that there is no way we could fit any more pots in the garden. Since then, I have added three.
Recently, I have been looking for a bench that doubles as a sculpture. Preferably, you would not be sure what category it would fall into. In my quest, I came across a company based out of California called that has outstanding modern design in sustainably harvested teak for comparatively reasonable prices. Check them out:
Will definitely be adding their line of furniture to my designs. And perhaps a sculpture/bench to my garden…
I spend far too much time online. Let me digress and qualify this confession with the fact that Adam and I have chosen to eliminate television from our entertainment lineup for nearly a decade. This is not due to any ideological issues with TV, we just reached a point where we felt there was not much we wanted to watch on TV. At the time, finances were tight and cable was just another bill to pay - so it did not make the cut. We figured we would stay in touch with news and popular culture through the internet (we don’t get the papers either – too much recycling guilt). A lot has happened in TV land in the past decade – for instance, we completely missed the reality TV phenomenon. When we visit my folks (who have Direct TV) we stare at the hundreds of channels wondering what to watch. Our last visit yielded a back to back marathon session of ”The Dog Whisperer.” Now I know how to train an angry pit bull mix - information I am sure I will use one day.
The point of this digression (there is a point), is that the time most folks spend watching TV, I probably spend online. The benefit of this for you is that I have quite a collection of handy garden sites bookmarked. Here are a few of my favorites:
Plant guides and information:
www.greatplantpicks.org – Regional to the Pacific Northwest – this site is wonderful for identifying tried and true plants. A must visit for newcomers to the area or new gardeners.
www.monrovia.com – There are lots of sites to ogle plants, but I go back to Monrovia time and time again
www.taunton.com/finegardening/plantguide/plantfinder.aspx - Another helpful plant index
www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/ - It’s no wonder England is synonymous with gardening….
http://plants.usda.gov/ - USDA plant site – if you crave a little science
www.botanypictures.com/ - A free database of plant photographs
Designers and plants people:
www.danielhinkley.com - Dan Hinkley does not need an intro – I enjoy his posts which are both humorous and philosophical
www.bernardtrainor.com – I am a fan of Bernard Trainor’s work….that is an understatement. Not only is he a gifted landscape architect, he is also a wonderful lecturer – check him out if you have a chance.
www.oudolf.com/piet-oudolf - The imaginative website of one of our great contemporary designers and plants people.
www.juliemoirmesservy.com/ - Another well known designer, writer and lecturer
Weather – I am a weather junkie…my Christmas gift this year was a weather station. Below are the top sites I visit for inclement weather information:
www.wunderground.com/ - Handy links to local weather stations
www.noaa.gov/wx.html - I like NOAA’s no nonsense weather site as it gives highly regional information – here in the Puget Sound, this is critical
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/ - Blog of Cliff Mass, UW Meteorologist. Need I say more?
Others sites worth mentioning….
www.specialtynurseries.org/index.php - A guide of nurseries in Western Washington…lots of places to spend your plant budget
www.pollinator.org/ - Who does not love pollinators? The website for The Pollinator Partnership has great information about these essential creatures and how to support them in your garden
www.sunset.com/garden/ - Lots of info here exclusive to the website…don’t forget to check it out if you are a Sunset fan (like me)
www.hortmag.com - A great magazine and a fantastic site. Sign up for their email updates to get lots of garden goodies pushed to your inbox.
www.taunton.com/finegardening/plantguide/plantfinder.aspx - Fine Gardening’s audio pronunciation guide…lots of fun. Impress your family and friends with the correct pronunciation of botanical names.
www.plantnative.org/ - A site & organization dedicated to encouraging people to embrace their native plants. Good work Plant Native.
www.bellevuebotanical.org/ - A beautiful and engaging site for the lovely Bellevue Botanical Gardens
I hope you find this helpful. If you ever decide to give your television (or at least cable/Direct TV) the boot….you probably will not miss it. Just think of all the time you could spend outside in the garden (and not online)…
Posted in garden design, garden information sources, native plants, tagged Blechnum spicant, Corylus cornuta var. californica, Myrica californica, native plant, Oxalis oregano, Polystichum munitum, Ribes sanguineum, Tellima grandiflora, Tolmiea menziesii, Vancouveria hexandra on 2009/02/04 | Leave a Comment »
The Pacific Northwest boasts a variety of gorgeous native plants, many of which are included in my own gardens. They beautifully knit my exotic plantings with the surrounding forest. Though I admire purists who will only use native plants, I am not quite this disciplined. Although I don’t limit my plant palette to “locals only”, I am a strong proponent of weaving in natives for several reasons. For one, they are already here. Before you automatically take out a native plant, think about how you can incorporate it into your design. You will be surprised how that snowberry or native hazel backs your planting bed beautifully. Second, they are well adapted to the conditions available – that is if you observe their natural habitat. In other words, still apply “right plant, right place” and don’t put a wetland plant on your hot, dry, hillside. Third, they often provide food for our woodland friends, such as the flowers on salmonberry frequented by the Rufous hummingbird. Finally, they help knit the non-natives to the surrounding landscape – a key to achieving a sense of harmony.
In my own gardens, I have incorporated Blechnum spicant (deer fern), Tellima grandiflora (fringecup), Tolmiea menziesii (piggyback plant), Oxalis oregano (oxalis), Polystichum munitum (sword fern), Myrica californica (Pacific wax myrtle), Ribes sanguineum (red flowering currant) and my favorites Vancouveria hexandra (inside-out flower) and Corylus cornuta var. californica (beaked hazelnut). I am also fortunate to enjoy Acer macrophyllum (big leaf maple), Cornus nuttallii (Pacific dogwood), Alnus rubra (red alder), Tsuga heterophylla (Western hemlock), Thuja plicata (Western red cedar), Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry), Oemlaria cerasiformis (indian plum), Mahonia nervosa (low Oregon grape) Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry), and Lonicera ciliosa (orange honeysuckle) surrounding the gardens.
(Whew, that was a mouthful…)
If you are interested in learning more about our native plants, some great resources (other than your back yard) include:
- King County Native Plant Guide: http://green.kingcounty.gov/GoNative/Index.aspx (This is my favorite because it offers multiple ways to search for plants – by photo, by cultural needs etc. Thanks King County!)
- Washington Native Plant Society: http://wnps.org/index.html
- WSU Extension: http://gardening.wsu.edu/text/nwnative.htm
- National Wildlife Federation: www.nwf.org/backyard/pacificnorthwest.cfm
- Plant Native’s list of WA Native Plant Nurseries: http://plantnative.org/nd_wa.htm
If you prefer paper - some helpful books:
- Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes Kathleen A. Robson, Alice Richter & Marianne Filbert
- Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon
- Native Plants in the Coastal Garden - A Guide for Gardeners in the Pacific Northwest April Pettinger and Brenda Costanzo
- Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest Russell Link
Though we just missed the 2009 deadline in Kitsap and King Counties (call asap – they may still take your order), Conservation Districts often have native plant sales. The orders are usually due in January with pick up a month or so later. It is a very economical way to get native plants.
Not in either of these counties? Google “your county conservation district”
Finally – a word about ethics. “Native” does not necessarily equal free. While transplanting from your own property is of course open game, and you may even be able to harvest plants from a site slated for construction (ask first), it is never good form to poach from parks, open spaces, public property or your neighbor (without asking). No, I didn’t really think you would.
Posted in garden books, garden design, garden information sources, tagged Ann Lovejoy, Beth Chatto, garden design books, gardening books, Nancy J. Ondra, Noel Kingsbury, Piet Oudolf, Valerie Easton, Zahid Sardar on 2009/01/29 | Leave a Comment »
If you are like me, the only thing better than being in the garden, is poring over pictures of other gardens. I keep a robust collection of books and magazines for reference and inspiration, and I revisit my favorites when I have a new design underway.
Some well thumbed books at my house are:
Valerie Easton’s Plant Life
Nancy J. Ondra’s Grasses and Foliage
Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden and Gravel Garden
Ann Lovejoy’s Handbook of Northwest Gardening
Noel Kingsbury’s Gardens by Design
Piet Oudolf’s Designing with Plants
And if you love modern design – Zahid Sardar’s New Garden Design
While I fully endorse supporting local book sellers when possible, if budget is a concern, many of these books can be found used at bargain prices on Amazon. Or, if you have a well stocked local library, you may find a healthy gardening section there. I often check out books several times before I decide to purchase and rarely leave the library without an armload of treasures.
So grab some books, kick back with a cup of tea and enjoy a little armchair gardening.