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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nigel's Birthday Weekend Adventure Includes a Nursery Tour

What other husband would allow his own birthday weekend celebration to include a visit to a nursery? Granted, he stayed in the car and read, but still...

Nigel's birthday was last week, and to celebrate we decided to go away overnight to a Native American casino/hotel, where Nigel spent the day playing blackjack. We actually started the day in Seattle, with brunch at a Cajun/New Orleans-style restaurant called Toulouse Petit.

My duck confit hash with two poached eggs and parsnips, potatoes, apple, asparagus and arugula -- yummy, but peppery!

There were beignets here a few minutes ago! My camera wasn't quick enough!

We followed that up with a short trip north to the Tulalip Resort Casino in the Marysville area. The Tulalip Tribes are "successors in interest to the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and other allied tribes and bands signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott." For a history of the Tulalip Tribes, who run the casino resort, click here. Our hotel room included a couple of booklets about the tribes and their history, which I enjoyed reading.

As an aside -- I know a lot of people have problems with gambling. Nigel isn't one of them, in case you're wondering. He loses considerably less money at blackjack than I spend each year on the garden. He's not one of those people who dreams of making "the big score," he knows the casino always wins, and looks on any money lost gambling as the entertainment fee for having a little fun playing a game in which he pits himself against the casino.

And my attitude toward the Native American tribes throughout the U.S. who run casinos for profit -- well, more power to them. (OK, off the soapbox)

While Nigel was playing, I checked out the resort's landscaping. They have some lovely pots by the front doors, which are flanked by enormous waterfalls, and a large garden with two big ponds. The pot arrangements had some wonderful plant combos in them.

This combo appealed to me a lot! The dark scalloped Ajuga leaves at the bottom, matching the dark interior of the pansy flower, and the Brunnera leaf with the Cyclamen in the same shape, but smaller, and then on the far right what I believe is boxleaf honeysuckle/Lonicera nitida

One of the pots sported an edible kale.
Waterfall on the right hand side of the door. There is a matching one to the left of the door, not shown.

The garden, while not cutting edge (it's a commercial installation, after all), is pleasant and charming, and is a nice place for a walk of considerable length, along a concrete path that winds around the ponds in front of the casino.

The concrete path has been cleverly imprinted with the shapes of leaves and animal footprints.

There are waterfalls in the ponds too.

This hedge of Abelia grandiflora smelled wonderful!

When this Crocosmia is in flower, I bet it makes quite a colorful statement with that pretty Flax in front of it.

At one point the path goes beneath this evergreen tree, giving a sheltered view of one of the many waterfalls around the ponds.

Hard to capture in a photograph how the sunlight reflects off the water and makes the evergreen twinkle and glow.
An impressive two-story tall statue of a Native American fisherman stands in one of the ponds.

In the other pond is a leaping Orca.

Simple massed plantings of annuals like Homestead Verbena and  marigolds appear throughout.

Also throughout are plenty of PNW native shrubs like this snowberry.

After our overnight stay, instead of heading straight home, we decided to take the ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island, where we visited both Cultus Bay Nursery and Chocolate Flower Farm, and then drove north up the island to Deception Pass Bridge, with a couple of stops along the way for coffee and an early supper.

Although it is nearly the end of the active gardening season, there was still plenty of interesting stuff to see at Cultus Bay Nursery. And Mary, the owner, is friendly and helpful, and both she and her assistant are knowledgeable plantswomen.

Family-owned Cultus Bay Nursery is at the end of a long, winding one-lane gravel driveway.

The Cultus Bay lath house smothered in vines provided plenty of opportunities for interesting photos.


I had a beautyberry shrub at my previous garden. Hmm...where can I put one here in Washington where those electric purple berries won't clash?

This crepe myrtle had a wonderful Clematis sporting fluffy seedheads threaded through the branches.

The leaves of oakleaf Hydrangea are marvelous as they turn color for fall.

A Garrya elliptica for sale is already showing off its incipient tassels.
I halfway wish I could talk myself into buying one of these prickly, expensive Epimediums.

Instead I bought a Primula veris, English cowslip.
And two of this Primula marginata 'Mauve Mist.'

After Cultus Bay, we proceeded to Langley, and a visit to Chocolate Flower Farm.

I left Nigel here, at the Useless Bay Coffee Company, with his book and coffee while I explored Chocolate Flower Farm in the little town of Langley.

But not before enjoying my own latte and scone.

Chocolate Cosmos

Honeybee enjoying her own version of coffee and scone

I don't know what this grass was in the display garden at Chocolate Flower Farm -- some kind of Miscanthus? -- but it was very colorful.

When I returned to Langley, Nigel and I walked the streets and allees of the little town, as well as its waterfront.

This was an intriguing water feature surrounding this tree.

The water comes up into the copper pipe embedded in the concrete, and runs out through holes in the pipe, and across the concrete surface, dripping into the reservoir below.

In Coupeville we stopped for an early supper. Coupeville overlooks Penn Cove, and in a restaurant called Front Street Grill, I had wonderfully tender, superbly cooked Penn Cove mussels in cream sauce. Nigel had fish and chips, of course!

Our last stop before the two-hour trip home was the Deception Pass Bridge. There was a great view from the bridge.

Deception Pass is a strait between Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island, named thus by explorer George Vancouver because it misled him into thinking that Whidbey Island was a peninsula.

We said good-bye to Whidbey Island as the sun neared the horizon.