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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big Plans Gone Awry

I had big plans yesterday to do a three-nursery tour on the other side of Puget Sound. I wanted to visit The Desert Northwest in Sequim, which was having its first ever open house, Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, and Dragonfly Farms in Kingston. From where I live south of Seattle, this was a major undertaking. Just to get to the ferry in Edmonds to cross to Kingston is a one-hour drive. I thought leaving at 9 a.m. would give me enough time. But when we reached the ferry terminal, we discovered that because this was also the same weekend as the Lavender Festival in Sequim, which is a once-a-year major celebration of the wonders of lavender, the ferry trip had a two-hour delay.

Normally, it would have taken me three hours to get to Sequim. Because of the ferry delay, it was going to take me three hours to make almost no progress. But I persevered, and stayed and waited for the ferry, thinking, well if I at least make it to the Desert Northwest for the rare open house, and have to visit the others at a later date, then that will still be a win.

It took us until 12:30 just to get to Kingston.

After which, we ended up in bumper-to-bumper traffic, all heading at a snail's pace into Sequim for the festival (which we were not attending, we were just going in the same direction). At the rate we were moving, it was going to take us 6 or 7 hours to make a trip I could usually make in 3.

Frustration and disappointment reigned. Well, at least it wasn't raining. In fact, the sun actually came out.

But, ultimately, we decided, instead of traveling all the way into Sequim, to veer off at Port Townsend and visit Far Reaches Farm.

Which was a treat. And a half. No, make that two treats.

Far Reaches Farm is owned and operated by Kelly Dodson and Sue Milliken, two plant-obsessed collectors who travel the world looking for garden-worthy plants. You can order online at their website here. You can read an article by Valerie Easton about them here. Ian Barclay, the proprietor of The Desert Northwest, wrote about his visit to their nursery here. They also usually have a booth at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (I've bought plants from them there, as well as at the Bloedel Reserve's spring plant sale) and the NWFGS has written a short article about them here. It looks like they will be at the Fronderosa Frolic next month, which I'm planning to attend (if I don't run into a major traffic jam on the way). Anything I regretted not buying yesterday might be available then.

Seriously, follow those links and read about Kelly and Sue and their nursery. And then come back here, and check out all the pictures I took of their fabulous nursery and display gardens. My pictures do not do even a modicum of justice to it. It was a foliage orgy. I'm sorry I'm not knowledgeable enough about the plants to identify them all.

My first view of their sales tables. The flat-roof lath and shade cloth structure in back covers their shade display garden.

They have a huge selection of Crocosmias.

Pond and bog garden. On the left is their green-roofed gazebo. The blue strap-like shapes rising out of the pond are glass ornaments.

Sarracenia/Pitcher plant in the bog garden

I'm not a big fan of Tradescantia, but this one fascinated me.

Look at those fuzzy leaves!

Full sun bed

Mertensia maritima (simplicissima)

Some kind of thistle?

Part of the lath-house display garden. There are paths all throughout this sea of foliage. This is only about half the display, there is more behind me.

Don't know which Epimedium this is, but look at that wonderful red edge!

Love this planted log! See all the sori on the back of the fern?

Podophyllum with mottled foliage

Arum seedheads, bet they will look awesome when they turn red!

Persicaria 'Golden Arrow'

Don't have a clue what this is, but I love the big leaves and blue berries! Edit: Thanks to Scott Weber, I'm pretty sure this is Diphylleia cymosa, a wonderful PNW native!

Maidenhair fern

The flower here, probably a terrestrial orchid (Dactylhoriza ??), actually belongs with the straplike dotted foliage below. The big leaves are maybe a type of Chinese mayapple?

Hey, this is a combo I actually have in my own garden! Woo Hoo! Brunnera 'Jack Frost' and Begonia grandis


I have no clue what this is, but isn't that peanut-like seed pod the coolest thing?

Something I can't identify with shiny black berries

I loved this combo of iris-like strappy foliage with a falling carpet of Epimedium below.

This looks like a hart's tongue fern, but the leaves/fronds were fuzzy and soft.

Hydrangea with a mottled leaf

Wonderful foliage combo -- long, thin and prickly with short, fat and prickly

Another amazing fern, I don't recall seeing it for sale

I realized once I got home that there were things I saw there that I thought I had taken pictures of --  an enormous Terapanax 'Steroidal Giant' for example -- but hadn't. And I completely neglected to get pictures of their long full sun border that runs along the driveway on the way into the nursery. And that cool gazebo with the green roof.

About five minutes after I arrived, a busload of gardeners on a tour showed up. Yet, I never felt I was annoying anyone with my questions or requests. A young man named Jason helped me out enormously, answering my questions ("What's that? Do you have it for sale?") and running all over finding wonderful, healthy specimens for me to take home.

So...what did I buy?

A large, beautiful Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'

Sinopodophyllum hexandrum

Podophyllum delavayi

Epimedium 'Black Sea'

Impatiens omeiana

Harpochloa falx/caterpillar grass

Garrya elliptica 'Evie'

I also bought a Pacific Coast Hybrid Iris called 'Dorothea's Ruby', two pots of Asarum marmoratum (similar to Asarum caudatum, but with mottled leaves), Corydalis scouleri, and a pot of Mertensia maritima (simplicissima).

By the time we left, it was close to 4 p.m., and Dragonfly only stays open till 5, and all I had eaten since getting up that morning was a nasty cup of ferry coffee and a stale, mass-produced chocolate chip cookie. So we ventured into Port Townsend and explored there. What a sweet, charming town! We took a nice walk along the waterfront, checking out interesting shops and looking over several restaurant menus before settling on what turned out to be a satisfying meal at The Public House Grill. (I had a big plate of steamed clams and mussels in a tasty broth.)

We returned home after a long wait for the drawbridge across Hood Canal, not getting in until 10 p.m., 13 hours after leaving that morning. We only visited one nursery and had one meal.

But it was an excellent meal. And a phenomenally fabulous nursery!