Wednesday, June 5, 2024

A weekend road-trip north, with all the trimmings

I'm back from a long weekend up to the Tacoma/Seattle area where managed to squeeze in visits to two botanic gardens, shopping at five nurseries, touring a conservatory, attending two plant/garden festivals, speaking to a great group of people, seeing old friends, and capping it all off with a 3-hour drive home during an atmospheric river (epic rainfall); what a weekend! Here are a few photos of my adventures...

Yes, I returned to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden (RSBG), where I took these photos of a very blue Rhododendron campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum.

It really is that blue!

In another part of the garden Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’, the blue poppy, was doing it's thing. 

I thought the new growth on Rhododendron asterochnoum was rather tropical looking.

There's the whole shrub...

Rhododendron falconeri ssp falconeri

Parthenocissus henryana (silvervein creeper)

I passed up one in the garden's nursery, I'm regretting that after reading about it on the Great Plant Picks site.

Paris polyphylla

Polygonatum of some type.

I thought this was a sweet ferny vignette.

And because I can't help myself, some pyrrosia...

Leaving the RSBG and heading to Watson's (nursery) I encountered a little traffic backup, I had a nice view while we inched along (that's Mt Rainer, aka Tahoma). 

At Portland Ave Nursery (in Tacoma, not Portland) I was quite taken with this mossy rope/metal business.

A pulled back shot...

A view of Commencement Bay from Ruston Way in Tacoma. The weather on Friday was so lovely that once I checked into the hotel I went out and explored along the waterfront.

On my way to the Point Defiance Flower & Garden Festival on Saturday I stopped at the W.W. Semour Conservatory. I took so many photos that will be a separate post.

The Flower & Garden Festival was my reason for traveling, I was invited to speak at the event.

I stopped to listen to this excellent presenter giving a demonstration on mounting staghorn ferns...

...and then it was time for me to give my talk on Creating a Garden You Love. Here Marianne Binetti is introducing me.

My next stop was the Pat Calvert Greenhouse at the UW Arboretum. I had just enough time to walk around the visitors center garden and shop their plant offerings before meeting up with Seattle friends for dinner. I'm guessing those two small Agave parryi var. couesii are descendants of the one I saw blooming back in 2018.

I loved this wild mash-up of horsetail, Rhododendron williamsianum, and (I think) a hellebore?

Pyrrosia in a tree trunk!

Lewisia and sempervivum are a nice combination.

The sales area (I'll share my purchases at the end of the post).

And a sign with VERY specific instructions!

On Sunday I was thrilled to visit an old crush at the Bellevue Botanic Garden, Daphniphyllum teijsmannii 'Mountain Dove'...


The Hardy Fern Foundation's Fern Fest was my reason for stopping by the garden, I was so glad to finally be up in the area during this event, after several years of missing out. Sadly I missed out on most of the ferns that were for sale, evidently they were swarmed on Saturday, and I couldn't be there until Sunday. Oh well, it was fun to look around, and chat with friends—plus it's not like I needed anything!

Inside the garden's gift shop I was happy to find my book sharing shelf-space with Chanticleer Garden's The Art of Gardening.

So what did I come home with? Thank you for asking! Here's the haul photo...
On the far right is a big pot of Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' from the UW's Arboretum Greenhouse. It had just occurred to me last week that I needed some to fill a hole and so when I saw this pot I grabbed it. I was also happy to find the quart-sized Yucca aloifolia 'Magenta Magic' in my travels (top of the photo). It seems like this one is usually offered only in gallon size and it's so much easier to squeeze into the garden from a smaller pot.

Saxifrage are so hard to find that I grabbed a pair of these S. hostii when I saw them.

Ditto for the S. 'Winifred Bevington' (although I just grabbed one of these, what was I thinking?!?)

Another UW Arboretum score, a pot of multiple Digitalis ferruginea for only $3

These little cuties were what I was hoping to find at the UW Arboretum, Lemmaphyllum microphyllum, a tiny (Zone 9) epiphytic fern. I was so happy to see them available again, that I bought four! I've found them there in the past and they're so fun to grow.

And finally, from the RSBG nursery, Vaccinium nummularia, aka Coin Whortleberry or Himalayan Whortleberry, a blueberry relative. I like this description from the Dancing Oaks website: "This stout little shrub, high on the cuteness scale, with convex glossy leaves and springtime (Apr/May) rose-pink to rose-red clusters of urn flowers comes to us from the forests and rocky slopes of the Himalayas—Sikkim and Bhutan. Black berries ornament it in fall and are edible. Mature size: 8-12 inches T x 12-36 inches W."

Whew! That (plus drive time) is a lot to squeeze into three days!

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  1. A true blue flower is rare in nature. Very pretty.

    1. I was happy to get to see them in bloom.

    2. Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’, the blue poppy I love it so much!

  2. AnonymousJune 05, 2024

    That was a whirlwind of a road trip!
    The thick mossy rope is fun... I like this unusual way to edge a raised bed or a mound of soil.
    I was at the BBG's fern fest on Saturday. Not only did I fight the crowds, I left empty handed! Hoped to find a selection of Pyrrosia, (or Any Pyrrosia for that matter), but that was not to be.
    Saxifrage 'Winifred Bevington' (don't have that one yet) and Digitalis ferruginea will motivate me to visit the UW arboretum; always a good time visiting even if those are gone by the time I get there.

    1. The saxifrage were from Watson's Greenhouse and Portland Ave Nursery, not the Pat Calvert Greenhouse/UW... sorry I wrote that in a slightly confusing way. And yes, I heard the pyrrosia went very fast at FernFest!

  3. Wow, what a weekend! I would have slept for three days straight afterwards!

    So many plants I'm completely unfamiliar with. There was only one I know, Yucca 'Magenta Magic'. I have one in the front yard, and at 3 1/2 ft. tall it's definitely less floppy than the related 'Blue Boy'.

    1. Ha! I think we all know differently. You too have the ability to power through a substantial line-up of road trip stops. As much as I love 'Blue Boy', I am done with it. It's just not hardy here. 'Magenta Magic' however sailed through last winter.

  4. You are blessed with so many great places to visit.

    I am quite jealous, ha ha!

    I bought one of those Rhododendron campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum this week. It should be with me on Thursday or Friday.

    Remember that I told you about me having to buy 3 Rhododendron williamsianum? Well, they turned up a week ago and I was very excited to open the boxes up and have a look at them. However, I could see one of the leaves poking out through one of the boxes and it did not look williamsianum shaped at all.

    After opening the two boxes I could see that they were some other kind of Rhododendron and I felt quite bummed.

    I contacted the nursery I bought them from and they accepted that they had sent me the wrong plants and offered me a refund, which I accepted.

    So, my hunt for a williamsianum continues!

    1. I am! There were so many other spots I wish I'd had time to see. The news about your R. williamsianum is heartbreaking. Do you at least like the plant they sent you?

    2. No, I did not like the plants they sent me, so they have been sent back.

      I consoled myself by buying a Rhododendron campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum and a Rhododendron Veryan Bay (this is a williamsianum hybrid), so I will get those lovely round leaves :)

  5. Like Gerhard, you always make excellent use of your trips, Loree. It helps that there are so many great garden venues to see in the PNW. There are fewer in the the LA metro area and the traffic adds an element of pain to most trips but I really should slip down to the San Diego area again.

    Congratulations on your talk, finding your book on the shelf at the Fern Fest, and your new purchases. I look forward to seeing the latter in place in your garden.

    1. As someone who has spent a lot of time exploring the gardens and nurseries of the LA Metro area I respectfully disagree. There are so many fabulous venues! You are correct the traffic is a bit daunting, but even so put me in LA for 3 days and I could write a similar post--in fact I have, just in more detail (each location getting it's own post) because I took more photos.

  6. AnonymousJune 05, 2024

    Whortleberry! I mean, how can you resist? (How did I not know of this plant?)
    Cute plant AND a very Seussian name. You are motivating me to head north. Need to visit soon anyway. Hmm. Well, maybe I shouldn't.
    Did you stealth sign your book copies? I know of authors who do that every time they run across one of their books "in the wild".

    1. Right? I chuckled as I read that name. I did not stealth sign, but what a fun idea!

  7. Beautiful plants--the Daphniphyllum is indeed swoon-worthy.

    Based on posts I've read on succulentsandmore, Gerhard could have done your three day adventure in one and had enough day left over to spent a couple of hours at Lotusland, besides. I envy you energetic travelers!

    Me, it would take years...

    1. Can't leave any sights unseen! (or plants unbought)

  8. What a jam-packed weekend, how fun. I love the ropey mossy thing. That blue rhododendron is a real looker!

    1. I wonder how long it took for the rope to achieve that fabulous patina?

  9. Will Lemmaphyllum microphyllum, a tiny (Zone 9) epiphytic fern be hardy for you?

    1. A few people have encouraged me to test it's hardiness here. So far I've only grown it in ways that I can easily bring it inside in the wintertime. But with 4 new plants to play with I might just see what's possible...

    2. AnonymousJune 06, 2024

      (When I bought mine at Hortlandia Judy of Fancy Fronds says she kept hers in an unheated greenhouse over the winter- In Gold Bar. So, maybe promising?)

  10. I wonder why the saxifrages have become so scarce lately. I've been looking for Saxifraga dentata and nary a one to be found! That blue Rhododendron looks unreal!


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