Wednesday, August 30, 2023

2023 Farwest Show (I return to be judgmental)

As I mentioned on Monday, I recently attended the Oregon Association of Nurseries Farwest industry trade show, their 50th! 

I wasn't planning to go, but then I got an invite to be a booth judge, and with that came an all-access pass. How could I say no? Here's a look at what I found interesting, and maybe you will too. 

At the Iseli Nursery booth there were several small-leaved plants worth admiring...

Ulmus parvifolia 'Hokkaido'

Ilex crenata 'Dwarf Pagoda' 

Salix boydii (recently tip pruned by the looks of it)

I was there early enough to see several individuals frantically running around with bags of ice to water the plants. I wonder if that's horribly shocking to them? The plants I mean.

The Briggs Nursery booth...

A fun display of the different types of hakonechloa.

I found this signage for sweet fern, Comptonia peregrina, interesting. A groundcover? Really? Around here it is frequently sold with a small trunk, as seen to the left of the sign. Dry soil? No. This plant does not like to go without water! At least not in my garden. I'll revisit this one at the end of the post.

Great Plant Picks! Poor Rick Peterson was minding the booth while his fellow Miller Garden/Great Plant Picks staff Richie Steffen and Del Brummet were out walking the floor (I know because I stopped to talk with them).

The ladies manning the OSU booth were very encouraging and helpful, I stopped and turned back to take their photo and caught this moment of, well, what exactly? They seem puzzled, a little dismayed. 

The Bountiful Farms booth celebrating the Farwest 50th year.

I wanted to dismiss this planted car business, been there done that for YEARS now.

But it was fun, and well done.

Mahonia going for a joy-ride in the backseat, who can't smile at that?

Peaches, again I was drawn to the peaches. This one is Honey Babe Peach, Prunus persica 'Honey Babe'. That shaggy foliage!

And the dark foliage version, Prunus persica 'Bonfire'.

There is always something interesting to admire in the Bamboo Garden booth...

And I usually find some fun vehicle I'd like to load up with plants and drive away in, this year's version looks like it's electric...

These containers look like a woven basket...

But they're lined and solid on the inside, all the better to hold soil.

Smith gardens invited you to stop and plant up a logo mug with a plant.

It was a very enticing offer!

The Cascade Topicals booth was full of great plants.

Oh! Philodendron bipinnatifidum 'Tortum' caught my eye, it's probably no longer cool in the hot houseplant scene, but I don't remember seeing it before now.

Ditto for this little cutie, which I didn't pull out to ID cause I just needed to walk away... (plants aren't generally for sale at the show, but you can sometimes make a deal and come back and pick them up when the show closes on Friday).

Root pouch!

I've been using one of these for several years now, a freebie giveaway at a past Farwest show. They're amazing. Made from a blend of natural fiber and recycled plastic water bottles they really hold up well.

Okay, time to give a peek to the New Varieties Showcase and share my favorites...

Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek Variegata’

It still kinda shocks me to see houseplants in the showcase, but it's a definite sign of the times and this one was cool.

Daphne odora ‘Monzulzay’ PP35217

That variegation is fab, I'm not sure if it's really that different from what's already on the market, but pretty it is.

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Rwoods6’ PP30270, CBRAF

Look at that flower!

Ipomoea hybrid Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Mahogany™ PPAF, CPBRAF

Yes another sweet potato vine, but they say it's "significantly improved" and retains its color well in full sun, as well as being mounded rather than trailing (even though it does trail). That multi-colored foliage always gets me.

Finally, here we are with another example of the sweet fern, Comptonia peregrina.

Which is being described here as a shrub, not a groundcover—that I can get behind. Somewhere in the mix I swear I also read that Comptonia peregrina not only did fine with "dry soil" but was drought tolerant, which had me shaking my head because in my garden it needs water, summertime water that is. 

Over the weekend I talked about the Farwest show and this plant in particular with a friend who has lived in more parts of the U.S. than I have. He reminded me that the OAN nurseries are selling to the entire country, not just Oregon. Duh. My dry soil is not everyone's dry soil. We've actually got rain in the forecast this week for the first time since late April/early May. That's basically four months without any real rain. Not something the rest of the country—West Coast neighbors excepted—really has to deal with.

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All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Barn's burnt down—now I can see the moon

Last Thursday I woke to the sound of chain saws. That's not unusual, we live in a dense urban neighborhood. As I lay there thinking about what I needed to accomplish that day the loud chipper noise started up. It sounded close, but then it's so hard to tell as the sound bounces around between our homes. It wasn't until Andrew left for work and I said goodbye at the backdoor that I realized it didn't just sound close, it was close! 

It was around 9 am when I walked into the back garden and saw the activity happening just acrost the fence to the west. There was someone up there cutting in the neighbor's laurel. It was odd that I hadn't heard anything from the neighbor, she'd let us know the last two times work was happening. I had a bad feeling. 

This photo was taken about an hour later (10ish), the crew was working from right to left. The back of the neighbor's garage was now uncovered and completely visible, as was their house behind our bamboo screen. How much was going to be removed from the area on the left half of the photo? Damn. I went back into the house feeling nauseous.
This next photo was taken at roughly 11:30. The height of the laurel had been reduced (you can see more of the Douglas Fir trunk) and the mass had been thinned. BUT, there was still a bit of a screen. Would it stay?

As I walked back into the house I remembered something I had heard just the day before, at the Oregon Association of Nurseries Farwest Tradeshow. Katie Tamony gave a talk titled "How to See Differently," and she shared a quote from Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai; "Barn's burnt down—now I can see the moon."

At face value that quote seems like a ridiculous "think positively!" type of sentiment. "Sure your car was totaled in that hit and run, but now you can walk the 10 miles each way to work and get that exercise you need!" But that's not how Katie was framing it, it wasn't just to be positive, but to look at things differently. Here's the list she shared, the Masahide quote fell under #1, never get used to anything. Once again I had gotten used to the green wall that hid our neighbors house, even though it wasn't mine and I had no control over it.

I wouldn't see the moon in the new empty space, but I would see more of the evening sun.

And I have great views of the hacked off trunks of the laurel.

I was trying to stay out of the back garden while the cutting went on, but I really needed to get out there and water a few things as we were headed to 94F that day. When I came over to spray the bromeliads in the southwest corner one of the workers was standing on top of our fence, cutting on the neighbor's hazelnut tree—the trunk visible on the right. He asked if a branch from that tree (or from the Doug Fir they were going to work on next) ended up in our yard could he jump the fence to come get it?

You can imagine my reaction. I stood there looking at him, trying to decide what I could say that wouldn't be "ARE YOU AN IDIOT!?! Where do you see an area where a branch could fall and not cause significant damage?" In all honestly I can't remember exactly what I said but I think I somehow managed to communicate that no branches were to fall in our yard. Period. And none did, at least no full branches, lots of pieces did, along with laurel leaves. 

Here's what they left behind of the hazelnut. That looks like a professional job, right?

There was a piece of a Doug Fir branch over these plants, I should have taken a photo before I picked it up, but even then laurel leaves remain.

Stepping back further along the fence line, noting how much sun is now falling on a previously shaded area.

Maybe the bamboo will grow a little more upright? Maybe the mahonia and aspidistra won't mind the sunny 94 degree days to come (2 or 3 more were in the forecast and thus I watered this area very deeply).

Once the workers were done cutting and chipping and creating chaos they then cleaned up the mess they'd made on the opposite side of the fence, finishing off with a gas powered blower. I wish you could have seen the cloud of crap (leaves, conifer needles and SO MUCH DUST) they blew into my garden. Everything was coated. I had a friend coming by for a garden visit that afternoon, so I hosed off the plants, wiped down the furniture, and used my battery powered blower in an attempt to clean things up. I was feeling pretty horrible about the garden by the time he arrived. Thankfully, as good plant friends do, he ignored the ugly and we had a fine visit.

In fact while we sat on the patio chatting a hummingbird dove down into the newly open area and fed at these tiny lepismium flowers. Would we have seen this moment of wonder if the area above the fence hadn't been cleared? Would the hummingbird have seen the flowers? Was this my moon? (see above)

I don't know. Obviously I will be reframing how I see this area, at least until the laurel starts to grow back, which it will. I am thankful that window-obscuring mass of it was left in place, but I really would have appreciated knowing this was coming. I would never dream of contracting for work that so changed a neighbor's space (and trashed it in the process) without telling them it was happening.

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All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.