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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vignettes From The Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2011

I went on Friday. I was originally planning to go on Thursday, and then I thought I'd wait till Saturday. But I got up yesterday morning and thought -- what a great day to attend the Flower Show. A lot of other people had the same thought. It was soooo crowded!

It was very hard to get good overall pictures of the display gardens, with all the people jostling for position, and walking in front of the camera just as I was about to take pictures.

So I decided to focus on vignettes. Small scenes. Tight little groupings. I'm not sure I can remember where they all came from, but I'll try.

Paradise (to be) Regained

Little patio with "tiles" made of stepables, interspersed with old rusty heat registers

Garden entrance, gabions weighted at the bottom with bricks, and filled with plastic bottles, with fencing made of heat radiators.

Life's Journey in a Garden (Expect Great Things)
I loved how this garden progressed from darkness (dark leaves, dark flowers, dark accents) on the left to light (white and off-white flowers, light-colored accents) on the right -- the way we in the West read

Nice contrast here between the dark leaves and the rusty edging, which I think is old window wells

A Day Well Spent

Loved this mysterious, overgrown brick footpath (might have to steal ideas from here for the path I'm putting in my shade garden)

English daisies and moss overflowing from the nooks and crannies of a step

Inside the potting shed

From one of the garden junk exhibits put together by a local high school

Wind in the Willows: A River Odyssey

The Frog Prince

One Upon a Thyme (I think)

From the Container Garden Displays
(Now my husband wants me to look for that street Italian book)

Finally, reminders of a couple of plant combos that I liked

I was there for 6 hours, and walked my dang patootie off! By the end of it all my legs were aching. The day culminated in dinner with my husband at the nearby Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Came home tired but happy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What I've been Doing (and Not Doing)

What I'm not doing today - going to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Here's why:
My driveway (with footprints in the snow from neighbor cat Chester)

It doesn't look like much, but it's enough to keep me from driving into town. Here they don't plow the streets, which makes for pretty dangerous driving. Plus, Seattle is very hilly, and I don't want to take a chance on having an accident. I'm planning to go on Saturday instead, hoping there will have been some melting by then. I wanted to go today to attend a seminar by Ciscoe Morris on his favorite plant combinations, but he is actually giving a similar talk later this Spring at Windmill Gardens, a nursery in Sumner, so I will go to that. And on Saturday, the display gardens will still be there.

What I have been doing -- sowing lots of seeds. Not just out in the garden, under more plastic cloches. Also inside the house, and outside in lots and lots of little plastic cups.

Inside I sowed many different kinds of tomatoes, and I have quite a few sprouts already.

The tomatoes inside are planted in a bin with bottom heat supplied by rope lights, and light above from a grow light, in a south-facing window. The bin actually had a lid on it till this morning, to keep the moisture and warmth in, which will help the seeds sprout. But since so many have sprouted, and some of the leaves were tall enough to touch it, I took it off. So far, the most vigorous sprouts seem to be Sub-Arctic Plenty.

Some time today, all the sprouts with true leaves will get a nice drink of fish emulsion. Yum! There are quite a few that are still quite small, still just seed leaves, only a few days old, so they will have to wait. Eventually everything will get potted up into a real pot, and put out on a shelf in the portable greenhouse.
Seed leaves still struggling to shed the seed cap

Outside on my west-facing front porch, I have sown seeds in two large bins with bottom heat from rope lights. It's been so cold here lately, I didn't think much of anything would sprout in there.

But I have Dahlias growing already, as well as Genovese Basil.
Dahlia seedlings

Also Lettuce and Zucchini.
 Zucchini seedling

And one impatient, or perhaps confused, Tomato.

I've also winter sown 7 plastic bins of various perennials, some native, and some not. 

I've left the lids off these, because I actually want them to get as cold as possible. Many of these seeds require a period of cold, followed by warmth, so I'm going to leave them out there in the cold for probably a few more weeks, and then put each bin on a shelf in my small, portable greenhouses. Because our winter weather lately has been hovering around freezing at night, and getting up into the 40s during the day, I don't want them to get warm from the greenhouse right away. And the cold won't bother the seeds that don't require freezing temps to sprout.

I want to finish by saying thank you to everyone who commented on my last blog post about my mother-in-law. I very much appreciate the sympathy, and the fact that so many offered tales of their own difficulties with in-laws. My relationship with MIL made me very aware of how I wanted to treat my own daughter-in-law when my son got married. We love her unconditionally, like a daughter. She has been wonderful to and for our son. A lovely young woman, who I greatly admire.

I thought I would make this post part of The Home Garden's Seed Sowing Saturday. Even though I wrote it on Thursday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fertilizer Friday -- An English Lady's English Garden

In 2006 my English mother-in-law (MIL) invited me to visit her, alone (without my husband, her son, whom she doted on). The invitation was an unprecedented surprise! Since there is very little flowering in my garden right now, I thought for Fertilizer Friday I would share some photos that I took on my trip, mostly of her garden.

 Birdhouse in MIL's Garden

I stayed with her for a week, at her house in the town of Kirby Muxloe (a suburb of Leicester), visited the local castle, toured the University of Leicester Royal Horticultural Society garden (subject of a future post), and went for a very posh lunch at a beautiful estate called Kilworth House.

Kirby Muxloe Castle

MIL's Garden

The front was always very regimented, with bedding annuals in serried rows, planted out with ruler in hand to make sure the spacing was absolutely accurate, and color coordinated.

But the beds in the back were a different story, where plants were allowed to run amuck more freely. And the plants used were all common cottage garden style plants that I love too -- violas, hellebores, lungwort, aubretia, rose campion, primroses, daffodils, muscari, forget-me-nots.

 The shrubs and trees, which provided the backbone of the garden, were still very structured.

She included several concrete statues that I loved, but standing on their own, not integrated into the garden.

Included in her garden was a small rockery.

Finally, in the interests of honesty, I have to admit, I didn't have the kind of friendly relationship with MIL that I wanted. She was prickly, opinionated, somewhat bigoted (a bias that covered anyone who wasn't English, including the Scottish and the Irish, and unfortunately, the Americans), and looked at me with a critical eye, so that I often had the feeling I didn't measure up to her standards. I was overweight (still am, I like sweets!), and she was 4'11" and weighed little more than 100 lbs her entire life. I was an ugly, uncultured American, and she was a very proper English lady.

But....and this is a big but....she is the reason I am a gardener.

Many years ago, when our son was 6 or 7, MIL visited our house in Massachusetts, and toured our yard (we couldn't call it a garden), and then came inside with some very harsh criticism. She thought there was so much more we could do with our yard, and encouraged me to start gardening.

So I did.

I threw myself into gardening with great enthusiasm, because if I was going to be a gardener, I was going to be an excellent gardener. Just so I could show her what I could do, how much I could learn. My garden never impressed her, but that's OK. Because I realized I loved doing it. For me.

At Christmastime in 2006, MIL suffered a stroke that left her physically debilitated, but mentally sharp, and still capable of communication. In Spring, 2007, we had to return to Kirby Muxloe, to empty her house and get it ready for sale. She spent her last few years in a nursing home, greatly frustrated by her inability to care for herself, and be independent.

She passed away last Fall.

Please head over to Tootsie Time to see all the other posts by gardeners who have flowers to flaunt.