Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Farwest Show Part II

The ‘New Varieties Showcase’ at the Farwest show was a judged competition with 4 categories: annuals and tender perennials; perennials and grasses; shrubs; and trees and conifers. To be included in the showcase the submitted plants had to all pass a set of qualifiers. Sorry, we were told what the rules were but I was too busy gawking at the plants to pay close attention to that part, I remember it involved being available to order from a vendor at the show, and being new plant material.

Two members of the ANLD (Association of Northwest Landscape Designers), Sara Smith of The Gardensmith and Linda Meyer of Linda Meyer Design tackled the challenge of putting together a visually cohesive display of 39 different plants. Imagine assembling a planting scheme of plant material that someone else chooses, all claiming to be the best and the brightest, all stars demanding the spotlight. Sara and Linda pulled it off by organizing the display in 2 parts. A ‘new’ condo/small garden/modern planting section (front) and an ‘old’ backyard/cottage garden section (back). They pulled it off nicely, that's it at the top of the post.

We (the 7 of us "special" visitors) were given ballots to vote for our favorites in each category, only one in each category?! No! I really wanted to vote for 3 in the perennials and grasses category: The Northern Sea Oats ‘River Mist’
Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot rainbow,’
And the Disporum cantoniense ‘Green Giant.’
And in the annuals and tender perennials category I had 2 that I couldn’t decide between! The New Zealand Flax ‘Jubilee’
And ptilotus x ‘Platinum Wallaby.’
I considered engineering a trade with someone else, could I have their perennials and grasses vote, and their annuals and tender perennials vote, in exchange for my shrubs, and trees and conifers votes? Please?

Ok…time to relax…I’m taking this all too seriously. Deep breath…move on.

The biggest shocker for me in the ‘New Varieties Showcase’ was that a Buddleia, (Butterfly Bush) was being shown! I thought we had all moved on from this bad-boy after learning how invasive it is! Well, turns out this one is completely sterile and will not set seed. Interesting.

Once we were set free to wander the show floor there was much to see and fall in love with…

Like these Kangaroo Paws! Look at them! Aren’t they amazing?And there were Phormium growers, Foxtail Farms, up from San Diego and Ventura with so many wonderful varieties.
They were willing to sell their plugs/liners to a regular gardener like me. The price? Only $2.75, well…except the ones I chose were copyrighted. Add an extra 50 cents for the copyright, $3.25 each. I can’t get used to this whole copyright thing on plants! But they were very cool colors and in fact the ones I chose were exact opposites of each other, one pink on the outer edge and green in the middle (the left 2), and the other green in the middle with pink on the outer edge (the right 1). Hot.
On to another booth, look at these baby agaves, aren’t they cute! Guess where they are spending their toddler years…California? Maybe Arizona (not really known for their nursery industry) …ok…maybe Oregon? NOPE! Minnesota! These adorable little agaves come from Minnesota! Isn’t that incredible? I was so happy to see that the future generation of agaves are being lovingly cared for. Cute little conifers
A booth full of palms with a token agave. These folks (from California) said they were told people up here in Oregon grow agave as houseplants. Not all of us!
An entire booth full of bamboo, love these big timber bamboo, hardy to zero.
Aloe and succulents
Green roof materials
aw pottery…I wanted them all!
There were booths selling fertilizer, mechanisms to spread fertilizer, BIG machines that plant plants in their plastic pots, machines that did things I didn’t understand and didn’t want to understand! And even booths selling plastic pots.
So what did I learn?
#1 our favorite retail nurseries are going to be overwhelmed with new Barberries, Echinacea and Hibiscus in the upcoming months. Every booth seemed to be showcasing their favorite.
#2 nursery people are nice. Seriously, everyone was amazingly nice…it was almost scary.
#3 this is big business…REALLY big business. I am still trying to wrap my head around that part of it. Reading some of the informational material that I picked up is helping, all of your comments on my last post are helping. I look forward to learning more.

And most surprisingly?
#4 even I can be overwhelmed with plant material. I thought I was tough. Nope I couldn’t take it all in and had to leave after only 4 hours. There was still an hour and a half to go in the show! I heard deals were to be had if you were there at 6pm when they all started packing up the booths. I love deals! I wimped out and headed back to my car. Maybe next year….


  1. OMG I would have gone wild! You can't copyright plants-someone is using the wrong term.

  2. Very intereting how many people go up in arms about patented ornamentals. How do gardeners think they are getting all these faboulous new hybrids. Are plant breeders supposed to slave away for years to produce them for free just for other people's enjoyment? The small royalty on each plant is how the plant breeders recoup their investment and get paid.
    We no longer live in an era where leisured aristocrats could spend days with their armies of gardeners experimenting and producing hybrids. Most patented ornamentals simply would not exist if the plant breeders could not have petented them.

  3. I visited the garden show in Seattle a few years ago and felt overwhelmed, too. It's great fun but a lot to take in for those of us who savor quiet moments in our gardens.

  4. Nicole, I suppose I could be wrong, but I am fairly certain that is the word that was used.

    Nicole, ok you have me really wanting to know what role you play in this all! What is it that you do? Your point is understood, thank you for taking the time to comment.

    VW, that is just it! The NW Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and the Yard Garden and Patio Show here in Portland were the standard that I was measuring this by. Not even close...SO MUCH BIGGER!

  5. I want to vote! Sea oats and that ptilotus, whatever that is. Love them. And the kangaroos paws, love the color. I want one of each of those agaves. I really love the one with the dark green stripe down the middle. And the bamboo, and then the aloes. And all the pots. There, that would be my shopping spree. Geez. So much stuff to want.

  6. Hi DG~~ It's called "Patent" not copyright but it's the same thing. It was the aforementioned Terra Nova talk that convinced me that there is a place for Patenting plants. Tissue Culture and the development of newer, improved varieties is a very expensive and time consuming process. The developers/breeders want to be duly compensated with royalties. I think it's fair. But it's only the cultivated varieties or hybrids that can be patented. Straight species and some variant species can not be patented and can be propagated by "normal" people like you and me. [I worked at a nursery and my garden buddy Carol still does. She is a head propagator and has educated me from the grower's perspective.] That being said, I'm still not big on branding plants and I'll only buy one if it has characteristics that really appeal to me. [Pennisetum rubrum 'Fireworks' for instance.]

    The N. Sea Oats is a must-have. And those phormiums...worth killing for...almost.

    Thank you again for sharing your Far West day with us. I understand your being overwhelmed. Usually by the time I'm halfway through a plant shopping foray, I'm completely brain dead and babbling incoherently and thoroughly embarrassing myself.

  7. Danger Garden-my role is not very glamourous LOL. I write specialised commercial laws, including those on intellectual property rights-trademarks, patents, copyright etc. I have drafted the intellectual property laws for over a dozen countries, and the plant breeders' law for 3.
    Your note on China is very valid-the countries where there are laws protecting plant breeders see many new varieites coming out every year, whereas ornamental plant resource rich countries where there are no protections see little activity-the local breeders and horticultural industry as a whole stand to benefit from the laws.
    In several countries I have worked there were opponents to the new laws, who believed these were being imposed by the developed nations for their benefit, until I illustrated to the locals how they could benefit.
    While I support the patenting of ornamentals there has been a lot of contention when it comes to food crops. Big seed companies push their seeds in poor countries and then claim the seeds are protected and the farmers can't plant the seeds saved. However the real culprit here is ignorance on the part of the farmers and lack of education and initiative by the Governments. Governments of poor countries should access and sell non-patented food crop seeds to their farmers and educate the farmers on the use of non hybrid seeds. There is actually a famous case " the enola bean patent" where an American wrongly applied for and got a patent for a seed bought in the market in Mexico. He then stopped mexican farmers from selling their yellow beans in the US and bought lawsuits against farmers and small seed companies! In 2008 after an 8 year battle the patent was struck down.

  8. Megan, funny...sounds like my list. I thought of something horrible on my way to work this morning (traffic makes my mind wander), I really doubt those people from Minnesota wanted to haul that tray of agaves home. I wonder what they would have said if I had came back at 6:00 and made them an offer? We could have been guerilla planting agaves all over town!!!

    Grace, I am sure that was the mix-up. I was dealing with the assistant in that booth and she probably used the wrong word not knowing that we would all be dissecting its meaning. I for one can't wait to get my hands on the Sea Oats! Glad to hear you agree.

    Nicole, well...I have to agree, not glamorous. But very interesting and impressive! Thanks for filling in the blanks and sharing your knowledge.


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