Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Farwest Show 2010, Part 2

The New Varieties Showcase at the Farwest Show features just that, new varieties of plants in four different classifications: Perennials & Grasses, Shrubs, Annuals & Tender Perennials, and Trees. Last year we were asked to vote for our favorite in each class. This year we got to just vote for our top three plants. Much easier! My votes went to: ‘Purple Haze’ Melianthus major, zones 8-10... ‘Gold Strike’ Lily of the Nile, zones 7-10... And ‘Burgandy Bunny’ Dwarf Fountain Grass (I apologize for the bad photos, it was very dark and hard to get a good shot!), zone 6-?.... I have to say it was also easier for me to make my decision this year because there weren’t as many interesting plants to choose from. Ah well.

The booth design featured succulent pyramids and columns. The Hakonechloa on the top of the pyramids reminded me of troll doll hair (that’s not to say it’s bad, I have fond memories of my troll doll collection and this made me smile).And the Hakonechloa on the columns? It looked like car wash brushes or feather dusters to me...if you can't have a little fun with plants then what can you have fun with! But did you notice that random large slab in the floor pattern? Edged by rocks? Here is a close up. Dangerous! People are walking along looking at the plants not at what their feet are resting on. Such a hazard, I’d be surprised if at least one ankle wasn’t twisted here. I know I’m hyper sensitive to these things (after breaking my ankle last winter) but I hope that booth designers exercise a little more caution in the future. Ok…enough ranting, back to the plants.

I’d be very surprised if this Coloropsis Jive Tickseed doesn’t take home top billing. While I didn’t vote for it, it seems everyone else was positively infatuated with the little blooms. It was everywhere at the show. The designers also worked at least one of the winners from last year into the display, this Ptilotus x ‘Platinum Wallaby’ was one of last year’s favorites.I was very excited when I saw a white/yellow version in the Proven Winners booth… Ptilotus nobilis. Aren't they just adorable? Other things I wanted to take home with me included this Eucomis 'Freckles' in the Terra Nova booth (no luck, all their plant material was already sold). These tree fern stumps in the Mr. Fern booth. These babies came all the way from Australia!
And I was head over heels for this simple little green stool. I asked if they would part with it but no such luck, turns out it was their only sample.
The Plug & Play booth (actually called the Plug Connection) was where I really fell in love though. Not only was their booth extremely colorful and a fun design…
…but they had a new Agave that was calling my name! Agave attenuata Ray of Light
…and then this Beschorneria joined in the chorus too (Beschorneria Flamingo Glow). At first glance I thought it was a Yucca ‘color guard’ but as I really looked at it and touched it realized it was not and just how cool it was. Lust.
I went back right before closing on Saturday and asked if they would consider parting with the both of them, after all that way they wouldn’t have to haul them back to California, right!? Well they did….they both became mine for a song!
They were green house grown from tissue culture and are both approximately 14 months old.

I got extra geeky when I got home and looked them up online to learn more. Besides the Plug Connection the only other listing I could find for both was from San Marcos Growers (and you know how I feel about them! Love them!)…across the top of their page was this message in bright red letters: THIS PLANT IS IN PRODUCTION BUT NOT YET AVAILABLE - THIS LISTING FOR INFORMATION ONLY

OMG…and I have them in my garden! So lucky…

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Farwest Show 2010, Part 1

Last year was my first visit to the Oregon Association of Nurseries Farwest Show. I was part of a small group of gardeners invited by the association as they reached out to the gardening public. I was VERY excited, and thanks to my role at plant lust I was back again this year. What is Farwest? Taken from their website…”The Farwest show one of the leading nursery and greenhouse industry trade shows in the United States. The show typically attracts 13,000-15,000 wholesale growers, retailers, landscape contractors / designers / architects, industry suppliers, educators and others from virtually every U.S. state and several foreign countries… Nearly 60 percent of exhibiting companies are wholesale nurseries at the Farwest Show - more green goods exhibitors than any other show in North America.”
In other words a plant geek’s heaven! Did you know that Oregon ranks third in annual wholesale plant sales in the U.S.? We’re behind only California and Florida. I asked some of the vendors I talked with how they were feeling about this years show and “cautious optimism” was the answer. I don’t have any actual statistics but I’ve heard that attendance was actually up this year, everyone I talked to seemed to feeling good.
I didn’t spot any big new trends (this is the cautious part of the optimism right?), there were still more Coneflowers and Heuchera than you can imagine, as well as lots of succulents and groundcovers. Looking through these pictures you will see an inclination toward bright colors like orange and apple green, but be warned that’s just my bias showing through. There were plenty of reds and yellows as well as muted earth tones.
I did see a couple of familiar faces, the folks from Fry Road Nursery where there, and their booth even won a couple of awards!
I stopped in front of this wicked display long enough that the gentleman running the booth gave me a demo. This machine transplants your little seedlings up to the next size cell; here they are ready to be transplanted.
The metal arms come down and punch the roots and the plant through the bottom of the current tray…
…into the tray waiting below, already filled with soil. And you haven’t even got your hands dirty!
This booth looked like a craft project was about to break out at any moment. I really wanted to sit down and see what I could make from these fun things. A few big leaves caught my eye… Rhododendron sinogrande.
R. calophytum
Centarea cinerea at the Rare Plant Research booth.
Of course were several marketing programs on display….like this one: grow a jungle in your garden!
I love how the picture of the elephant and the look of the colocasia bulbs it is advertising just seem to go together. Rough texture and big!
More marketing….
Unfortunately even the best product sometimes gets upstaged the props. These dyed fiber fake fern fronds were not for sale. The pots were. But everyone (including me) asked about the fern fronds.
I bet they’ll be selling them next year.

Tomorrow…the new variety showcase and the things I wanted to take home with me…