Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Having Fun While Sitting Down at The NWFG Festival

By 3 p.m. on Wednesday, my first day at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, I was ready for a sit-down. Fortunately, that was when Floral Wars started. While I enjoyed walking around and gawking at all the displays and shopping till my legs ached, I have to say -- Floral Wars was probably just about the most fun time I had at the show! Floral Wars is a head-to-head competition between local florists who specialize in using local products.

Floral Wars was hosted by Debra K. Prinzing of,  a nationwide online directory to florists, shops and studios who design with American-grown flowers.

Debra K. Prinzing, author of Slow Flowers and The 50-Mile Bouquet

Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers and Jessica Gring of Odd Flowers Floral Design were the competitors on Wednesday. They were each tasked with doing three designs, and they had only 15 minutes to complete each one -- a floral arrangement, a hand-tied bouquet, and a "surprise" floral creation (which was different each day). On Wednesday they were tasked with creating wearable floral jewelry in the form of a cuff. The ingredients they were given to work with were all local (for a definition of local that included California).

During the competition, Debra roamed the audience, taking questions that the competitors were expected to answer while continuing to work.

Melissa has removed her vase from the pedestal and is moving it onto a lazy susan

Melissa cuts a branch as part of her support

Jessica makes a start on her arrangement by adding some hardwood branches as a support structure, and unlike Melissa has decided to leave the vase up high on the pedestal

Isn't Jessica wearing just the coolest jumpsuit ever?

Melissa has added Lilies and Pieris to her support branches

Melissa adjusted the red tulips before adding them to the vase by opening the petals out, making the flowers look almost blown

The guy from Corona Tools, whose name I've forgotten, talks about the adjustable bypass pruner

Throughout the show, the guy from Corona took questions from the crowd and handed out tools to audience members. The show was sponsored by Corona Tools, Johnny's Selected Seeds and Offray Ribbon.

Jessica contemplates what to add to her hand-tied bouquet

Melissa works on her hand-tied bouquet -- watching both of them clutch the flowers and add to them made my arthritic hands ache in sympathy

Jessica wins the day's prize -- an engraved trowel from Corona Tools

Melissa's floral cuff

Jessica's floral cuff

Melissa's arrangement with its interestingly blown-out tulips

Melissa's hand-tied bouquet lies on the table

Jessica holds her hand-tied bouquet

On Thursday the competitors were Jon Robert Throne of Countryside Floral and Garden and Gina Thresher of From the Ground Up Floral.

Jon started by rolling yellow dogwood branches up into a ball as a makeshift enormous floral frog to support his arrangement

Gina seems to be having fun

Jon works on his arrangement which is going in a decidedly horizontal direction

Gina makes an adjustment to her arrangement

Jon kept up a pretty continuous stream of mischievous banter throughout the competition -- Debra said he was "unfiltered."

For his hand-tied bouquet Jon took a large bunch of redtwig dogwood and began to braid and weave them into a support for the flowers

Gina adjusts the branches that she's using in her hand-tied bouquet

Gina teased Jon that he was supposed to be making a hand-tied bouquet, not weaving a basket

It looks almost like a badminton racket

His hand-tied bouquet was massive -- I think it must have been meant for Wonder Woman to carry

For their "surprise" challenge, they were tasked with creating floral crowns.

Gina ties on her own floral crown

An audience member models Jon's floral crown

Gina won the engraved trowel from Corona Tools

Gina's floral arrangement on the left and her hand-tied bouquet on the right

Jon's hand-tied bouquet sitting in a vase

Jon's horizontal floral arrangement

I have to say -- this was the most fun I've had while sitting down at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival -- honestly, so much more fun and interesting than sitting in the dark looking at slides of photos of plants. I'm sorry if my pictures weren't the best, I used my iPhone's zoom (it's steadier than my point-and-shoot on zoom), but I'm sure you can still get the gist of what the competition was like.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- February 2018

I can't really say that Garden Bloggers Bloom Day arrived without warning. It was hard not to be aware that yesterday was February 14, and the 15th always follows the 14th. I have been distracted from flower watching in my own garden though, by seedling-watching and up-potting, and by seed-sprouting-watching. It certainly seems as if flowers are blooming all over suddenly. Until a few days ago I thought maybe spring would come early, and winter was over, but then this week has seen some cold temperatures (in the mid-20s at night), and there is worse to come, at least for me up here on the ridge, 600 feet above sea level, south of Seattle and east of Tacoma. They're predicting snow for the weekend and a night-time low of 18. I do not like it, Sam I am.

Here's what I found just now when I went out with my camera to take photos -- lots of flowers low to the ground. I got my day's exercise workout, doing all that squatting. It's a good thing no one was following me with a tape recorder. All that grunting as I struggled to rise was very unbecoming. Hey, tennis players grunt, so I'm in good company!

It's hard to see in this photo, but the snowdrops that I planted a couple of years ago in this dark corner have really brightened it up

Pardon my fat fingers

Crocuses are up, if not completely open on a gray day

Cyclamen coum is flowering profusely in a few patches

I really should spread it around

Winter jasmine/Jasminum nudiflorum

There are a few things flowering in pots in the pot ghetto.

Double red Primrose, dug up and divided last fall, has been sitting in four-inch pots since then

The same with this double peach Primrose

I just bought some already flowering Fritillaria, the ones in the ground in my garden haven't shown up yet


Sweetbox has been filling the garden with its scent for a few weeks now, even Nigel remarked on it

Witch hazel is starting to open its flowers too

Indian plum/Oemleria cerasiformis

Mahonia x media 'Charity' is nearly finished

Yellow Corydalis self-sows everywhere, but I don't mind

Euphorbia rigida

And there is quite a parade of Hellebores. I no longer have any clue about their names.

There were flowers in the greenhouse, but when I went in to take photos, the lens on the camera steamed up. It made for an atmospheric picture.

I got these red tulips from the Toyota booth at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival/Show/Orgy

Alstroemeria something sunset/sunrise/something to do with the sun

At this time of the year the fancy-leaf Begonias that winter over in the greenhouse start to flower, rather non-descript flowers, but since I pretty much ignore the plants except to give them a drink occasionally, they always pop up unexpectedly.

A long flower stem has reached up from the shelf below to appear amongst the succulents

Where does that tall stem go?

It was hiding behind a package of disposable nitrile gloves

I think that's everything -- quite a lot, I think, for February. Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts Gard Bloggers Bloom Day on the fifteenth of every month, and bloggers around the world participate. You should check it out here.