Thursday, February 25, 2016

NWFG Show display gardens: from the rain-forest to the desert and a few stops in-between...

The theme for the 2016 Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle (held last week) was "America the Beautiful – Celebrating America's National Parks & Landmarks". The show featured 20-some "marquee display gardens" today I'm only going to share a couple of favorites and outtakes from a few others.

The Washington Park Arboretum's garden: The HOH: America's Rain Forest was popular with show-goers and judges alike.

The real HOH Rain-Forest is located on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington. The annual precipitation total for the area is 140 to 170 inches (omg!). I took these photos during an early morning gathering when the overhead lights were on.

Here's one from later, when the dramatic (?) show-lighting was all that illuminated the garden. It felt a little spooky. There was a nice light rain falling on the garden too, adding to the ambiance.

Skunk Cabbage!

Yep, this garden was very well done.

But on to the desert! The folks at West Seattle Nursery put together this garden and called it Southwest Serenity...

Naturally I thought it was pretty fabulous.

I love how densely it's planted, although I'll admit to a nagging desire to have seen them plant entirely with Agaves and other succulents that are actually USDA Zone hardy in the Pacific Northwest. Then again this is fantasy and it's supposed to be the SW...

There were a few labeling issues.

And those poor Barrel Cactus got buried a little deep.

But still it was wonderful to see something like this...not a forced Hyacinth in sight! Although they didn't completely forgo flowers, as you can see there was liberal use of Lewisia.

Wondering what happens to all these beauties when the show is over? So was my friend Peter, and he asked. They're all back at the nursery now, in need of a good home (Seattleites, go shopping!)...

The Tiny Tetons was also a popular garden, getting a photo showing the dramatic depth perspective (yes, I think I made that phrase up) the designers achieved was impossible with all the tripods gathered around, even during the special early morning viewing before the show opened. This is the best that I could do.


The fence around the garden was pretty cool too.

I loved these plant markers in another garden, they look like tiny National Forest Service signs.

Magnolia 'Sunsation' was a stunner...

Although I didn't really understand it's placement in the courtyard garden next to the Yucca rostratas. I mean I would have do have a magnolia planted next to a Y. rostrata but it seemed an odd mix for a display garden.

Speaking of odd. Outdoor octopus shower anyone?

There's an idea here. These are kind of clunky but a great starting point for brainstorming a free-standing privacy screen or trellis.

Finally a couple of new-to-me lust-worthy plants. Mahonia duclouxiana, description from Far Reaches Farm: "Exceptional species bold in leaf, bold in form and bold in flower. These are seedlings from our plant grown from a Dan Hinkley collection in China. Big leaflets make up the substantial leaves and the flowers are terminal candles of a rich yellow-orange in late winter or even earlier in mild gardens. This is not as hardy as the Mahonia x media types but is perfect in the warmer gardens of Puget Sound and quite at home further south."

And this beauty, Strobilanthes gossypinus (many of the plants in this particular garden came from Dan Hinkley's personal collection). Description from Landcraft Environments: "An incredible new introduction from New Zealand that we received by Dan Hinkley. Growing to the same height and width “Persian Shield” but the foliage of this Strobilanthes is silvery-gray with a hint of light tan on the new growth. Overall it’s a wonderful new plant for subtle color blending, having numerous uses in containers and bedding."

The bad news? Well first of all, good luck finding it for sale. Secondly, it's not hardy in my USDA Zone 8 garden. But heck, if you don't leave a garden show with a new plant crush (or two) what's the point?

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

36 comments:

  1. Love your brightly-lit pictures. "Dramatic" show lighting has annoyed me and everyone I know since the beginning. Is it just to hide the imperfections?

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    1. I've wondered the same thing Joy, kind of like the difference between HDTV and old style?

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  2. I bet you can find a cornus that looks at least vaguely similar to that beautiful strobilanthes. The arid garden, it's lovely but I wish they used bigger specimens for an even better impact.

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    1. Cornus huh? Interesting suggestion. I never would have thought of that but I can see why you would make the leap. And so true, bigger specimens would have made that garden more realistic too. Baby steps.

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  3. There's much to like here--and the lighting looks OK, too, instead of the sickly yellow or orange you so often see at shows.

    I'm a sucker for gabions. One of these days I'll have one or two or three.

    I had to chuckle over the Agave attenuate 'Ray of Light' label. Maybe that's what they had wanted to use and couldn't find one?

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    1. Oh no worries about the lighting, it's ok because I was there at 7:30 am for the "tweet-up" and the bright lights were on for us. As soon as the show officially opened things got sickly.

      As for 'Ray of Light' there was one nearby, I think it was a case of the labeler not knowing what they were looking at. Someone who did *might* have fixed that issue for them...

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  4. It's not often I can get both a moss and an agave fix in one blog, YES! I kinda like the way the metal privacy screens look, and just think, you would get a twofer since they could also double as giant tanning screens!

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    1. Ha! When I was looking at fence styles a friend (who has a metal shed) mentioned that "benifit"...

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  5. Oh, that is cruel seeing plants from Dan Hinckley's personal garden! My major regret is not buying more from Heronswood and a couple of other favorite mail order sources, all now closed. There is something to be said for swallowing hard and paying shipping prices to get some really cool plants. That image where you liked the label: that is the bearberry I can grow. Loved the WA Arboretum garden, esp. without the spooky lighting.

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    1. Dan has actually started a (small) nursery again under the Windcliff name (http://danieljhinkley.com/windcliff-plants/), he's been selling at some local shows. I think I need to put in a request!

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  6. Loved seeing your photos from the show. I am tempted to get out to West Seattle and see if they still have those barrel cactus. They're quite a good size, so I bet they're spendy, though. They might break the bank for my plant budget this year. Love that Dan Hinkley Mahonia -- those pink stems with yellow buds really stand out.

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    1. Peter scored a price list, maybe he still has it? I can assure you they aren't bargain basement prices.

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  7. Strobilanthes gossypinus? Looks like Mr. Hinkley is selling them locally. Buy 'em up, mark 'em up, ship 'em out. You might make a tidy fortune! Of course Mr. Hinkley might take umbrage......
    :)

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  8. Another downside of that strobilanthes is that if it flowers, it dies. I had one that grew to a nice size in one year, and the unfortunately flowered. I tried germinating the seeds without success. Others growing in local gardens, some several years older, all flowered at the same time as mine (and then died). Maybe weather conditions trigger the flowering?

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    1. I've read that some Strobilanthes are like bamboo, with mass flowering and masting. Clones all around the world bloom, set seed and die at nearly the same time. It's an internal clock.

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    2. Thanks for the tip Vireya, and that mass-flower and die thing is so bizarre!

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  9. I'm a little in love with that Magnolia but it's another that wants moist soil - and then there's its mature height.

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    1. You need to garden in the PNW half the year!

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  10. That agave garden looks great (labeling aside). They look so good planted close together, which is also what I've been using as a reason I can buy more plants this spring...

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    1. Anything that allows one to buy more plants!

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  11. Those first three gardens were some of my favorites, too. I don't think I noticed the rain in the rainforest, though. I noticed a few labeling errors in the courtyard garden, too.

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    1. I don't think the rain was "on" for the tweet-up, so unless you went back by later (and could get near the garden which was virtually impossible with the crowds) you wouldn't have seen it.

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  12. maryfrompottedFebruary 25, 2016

    I fell for the Strobilanthes gossypinus. That plume of yellow at the top. I think it would not like southern California. Especially with the drought.
    Thanks for the virtual tour.

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    1. You're welcome, thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Looks like a great show. Maybe I'll get there one day!

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  14. So much to see at the show! Thanks for the link to the mahonia as it is a beauty! Hopefully Far Reaches or Windcliff will have it available again. Best bet to find Strobilanthes gossypinus is to visit Windcliff. I'll be trying to root cuttings of mine for you.

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    1. Thank you Peter, you're so good at rooting cuttings too! I wonder if Mr. H will be selling plants at Hortlandia this year? Hmm..

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  15. That mahonia is gorgeous, and the echo from the red-orange/yellow tulips makes a most appealing vignette. Is that combination unrealistic in an actual Portland garden -- that is, the mahonia blooms way before tulips start? If so, seems worth seeking out some way to bring out those red-orange stems at bloom time. Even with a pot of forced tulips...

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    1. Agreed, the combo helped to make the Mahonia sing. If this one plays like the Mahonia already in my garden then it would be done blooming before the tulips start to push out of the ground. Where there's a will there's a way though...

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  16. The octopus shower reminds me of the logo for a local business, Gail's Wigs and Things.

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  17. What a beautifully done garden show. Love the Tiny Tetons, but also the desert and NW woodland. (Although - that poor barrel cactus - eek.)

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    1. Thank goodness it wasn't outdoors like that. Rotten in no time!

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  18. I've grown that Strobilanthes gossipina in the past, it lived for 3 years until blooming, and another year in bloom. Unfortunately I waited too long to take cuttings, and the dozen that took all promptly bloomed then died too. It comes from southern India and Sri Lanka, and typical of many in the genus do all come into mass bloom. They were stunning shimmery silver foliage with gold shimmering highlights at high elevation Sri Lanka, cloudforestcafe coolish weather quite like SF, except warmer days and no real frost, but cool chilly foggy evenings year round. It was introduced several times in southern California (Gary Hammer), but has never really caught on cause it's a bit fussy and dies out. I know it grows much better in more subtropical Durban, South Africa, and Brisbane, Australia.

    Leaf shape and texture may appear Dogwood-like, but the foliage color effects are totally different. When the foliage is wet, the color effects are totally absent.People back east are using it as a pricey container annual to one-up the neighbors. I wish it were easier to grow, they looked stunning as dense 5 foot shrubs amongst Agapanthus and Hydrangeas at 6000' in Sri Lanka.

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  19. Pinching off any attempts at flowering of this Strobilanthes doesn't prevent it from dying, unfortunately, but flowering is initiated by change to short days, so apparently growing it where days/nights are nearly equal year round is what allows it to live more years before blooming, approximately a 5 year growing cycle if I recall correctly.

    Perhaps growing it under lights beginning in August/September and giving it short nights is best for keeping it going, getting large before flowering, and preventing cuttings from pre-programmed bloom.I wonder if Dan has grown it long enough to have teased out what it takes for long term success. I got seed on mine, but didn't attempt to grow them on.

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