November Sun – Cold Color Celebration


Sunny November days in Seattle are a pure unadulterated bonus. Our gardening climate is alternately dazzling and maddening at the same time. The depth of gray in winter seems to last forever and the utterly outstanding glory of summer here fall at the opposite end of our horticultural universe for an exquisitely painful short period of time.

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
–   Emily Dickinson

We can grow such wide array of plants here that it makes many in other parts of the world green with envy. So, on a crystalline blue-sky day like today, it feels like we are COMMANDED to get outside and document its glory for everyone to see. I did just that in my robe and jammies this morning for you! If nothing else, it may just be to document it for us so that when we are nearly suicidal on the gray days in January and we want to hop a plane to Las Vegas, we remember why we live here.


Fatsia Japonica blooms

It occurred to me as I took this shot that the years of the heaviest Fatsia bloom, we’ve also had the hardest winter. Hmmmmm……..

We rely on many a Huechera for some November color here in the Northwest because we don’t really have too many flowers at all. So the WIDE variety of foliage colors are a very welcome sight here in gray land.


Note the Fuchsia near the bottom still doing her thing! I scared the (bleep) out of a poor local Hummingbird trying to get this shot. Ooops!


Another plant that “tolerates” our wet cold winter climate, is Phormium, or New Zealand Flax. You need to understand that I do say this somewhat tongue in cheek today. I lost about 27 of them a few years back after an ice storm. When the cold almost 2 inches of thick ice melted off of them, they actually looked fine until they succumbed to Crown Rot.
That was about 5 years ago now and I have recovered from my cynacism toward them, but only enough to have two. So, far. I just refuse to fall in love again and have my gardeners heart and wallet broken again. 🙂

Having said that, I do have a torrid love affair with my Fatshedera. If I have to buy a new one every year, I’m cool with that. This variegated one was particularly lovely with cold weather color and the light of the morning coming through her.


“If I’m ever reborn, I want to be a gardener—
there’s too much to do for one lifetime!” 

–   Karl Foerster

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Northwest Flower & Garden Show-Trend Watch 2011

The 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden Show has just closed until next year and we already miss the colors, fragrance and warmth we got to experience for the 5 day marathon of Seattle Gardening-Palooza! Of course the gardens were wondrous with the inspired show theme “Once Upon A Time”, how could they not be?

Everyone's favorite image of the show theme from the display "Alice In Wonderland"

But what about the garden design trends? That’s what I want to see for 2011!

The trend watch for 2011 gardens is in full swing. Some of the things I noted at the show were already at ground swell point in a few places last year, but they went really big this year.

Night gardens and moodiness in the garden were HUGE at the show. D-4 Collective

Of course sustainable and Eco-friendly gardens are still a big deal! Re-characterization of old pieces, such as antiques and building materials were all-stars of the show.

Paradise (to be) Regained, Courtney Goetz

The Lusher Life Project

Cottage and Asian style are still trending, and they were very popular at the show!

Christianson's Nursery

Arboretum Foundation

I can’t let this post go by without a shout out to my Container Garden display! I partnered with Janit Calvo of Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center. We are SO proud of the fact that we NOT ONLY participated in the show theme, which is NOT easy on a small platform, but it represented the trend shown in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” of Indonesian style mixed with colorful world themes.

Many show attendees came to me and said that the container displays were their favorite part of the show. They felt like we really kicked it up a notch and showed what can be done in small spaces.

"Eat, Pray, Love, Garden" A little bit of Italy, India and Indonesia!

Garden art was abundant at the show in all of it’s myriad of forms.  Glass, ceramic, wood, metal were the big formats for art this year, where as a few years back I noted LOTS of mosaics as the big highlights.

The simplicity of this little glass piece had me entranced!

The tones of pomegranate in this glass by artist Barbara Sanderson of Glass Gardens NW, paired with the rich plums and purples in this garden design were magical.

Succulents and verticals were another couple of really big trends that I saw amped up this year. A few more posts may be necessary on those!

For a an overall review of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, please take a look at these great blog post from garden writer Susan Morrison on her Blue Planet Garden BlogTimber Press and another wonderful garden writer, Rebecca Sweet on her blog Gossip In The Garden. I’m sure there are a tidal wave of more fantastic blog posts coming out soon about the show. Meanwhile I’ll be working on more posts on  the trends I saw!

I hope you enjoyed my take on it, leave a comment!

Seattles Conservatory- A Delight for the Senses In Winter

Finding a way to get your gardening urges met in the Northwest anytime before February is an act of pure dedication. It’s usually just too wet and cold. With cold being purely relative to what those experience in other parts of the country, our version of cold does have its opportune moments. But, the bottom line is, that until the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, we find our “needs” fulfilled through seed catalogs, and rushing out during the odd break in the weather to go do some winter pruning or quick clean up chores.

This New Years week however, I was determined to get a dose of warmth, greenery and inspiration long before February, bulbs, seeds and the first of the winter blooming plants. I decided that a pilgrimage to the deeply in order. And, WOW was I happy I did it. This 100 year old glass conservatory is a precious gem in the Emerald City. The photographs I came away with from this trip are enough to satisfy my urges for quite some time!

Upon entering the elegant, antique glass house, the temperature hits you like a brick. There is a small entry area, where it seems, most people start to strip down immediately to enjoy life without 5 layers for a while.

Then the first thing you see are the Orchids. Utterly spectacular displays behind wire cages, safe from sticky fingers who might try to make off with souvenirs.

The house that shows off the tallest plants is green and lush with a dense jungle feeling. Then you can go left or right to venture into the other sections of this giant glass house. It was a bit odd though, I always felt like someone was watching me. 😉

To the right is the Seasonal House, changing out seasonally to showcase the latest and greatest. The Holiday displays were still up this week, showing off the lovely poinsettia and foliage combos.

Beyond the Seasonal House is the Arid or Desert House with the spectacular cacti, succulents and sedum that may be ubiquitous in many parts of the country, but here, they are a rare treat.

Sinningia Leuchatricha

Heading back the other direction, you feel like you should be hearing tropical birds and monkeys swinging about as you enter the Tropical House. The pictures in the grid at the top of this post gives you a small taste of what the colors were like. Such a unique thing to see on a cold gray day!

Beyond the tropicals were the Cycad House. A very architectural group of plants fill this lush house with foliage colors and textures.

After I got my fill of the heat and humidity of the Conservatory, I came outside to a fairly sunny day. DOUBLE bonus! Here are some shots I took on my way to the car and a few I pulled over to take on my way home.

I hope you enjoyed my day at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. I certainly got my fix- for a little while. 🙂

An IMPORTANT update on this post from January 2012:

End of the road for Volunteer Park Conservatory?

Please read further to see how YOU can help via the Links below!

In the mood…

The Inauguration is days away and the excitement is building. I don’t have a ticket to this historic event, but I can watch on TV and on the Internet. My participation is pretty much limited to a small number of avenues. But, after the holidays are over and most of the country is either trapped by weather or recovering from weather, I think we’re all in the mood for some fun. And since I can’t make it to the most major party of our time, I can participate another, that for a Gardener, rivals it. The Northwest Flower and Garden Show. (Angels and Choirs inserted here)

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

There has been some recent research that shows Gardeners are online in HUGE numbers from October through April, blogging, Twittering, Facebooking , you get the idea. And then after that nothing. Apparently it was some huge surprise to the researchers that we dropped our keyboards and picked up pruners! That’s because we’re like heroin addicts looking for a hit! We’ll take anything that looks even remotely like it could grow. The discussions online regarding seeds, seed starting, seed catalogs- are gaining speed and they may hit a compost landmine any minute!

I, for one, have been TRAPPED inside for weeks. Dramatic you say? “Snowmageddon 2008″ as I have dubbed it, had us under almost 4ft. of snow (IN THE SEATTLE AREA!!!!)  and as of this writing on a now otherworldly sunny day, 48 degrees, it’s not melted yet for some! Still too dramatic? After the snow, we had 14” of rain in 48 hours. Still the snow remained.You can’t even go out to really accomplish anything of any real consequence in those conditions.

So, in horticultural state of frenzy, we will all gather for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. We will worship anything that is put in front of us. From the smallest point of titillation, in the form of Narcissus, to practically surgically enhanced versions gardens we can never attain, we are in the mood to celebrate. Cheers!Pansy-pix-3-2008-028