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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Portland Yard, Garden and Patio Show

As I mentioned in a previous post, Nigel and I went down to Portland for the weekend to attend the Yard, Garden and Patio Show, a three-day garden show that happens every year at the Portland Convention Center. The best highlight of my day was actually having lunch with a group of garden bloggers -- Loree of Danger Garden, Ricki of sprig to twig, Ann of Amateur Bot-Ann-ist, and my garden touring and plant buying buddy Peter of The Outlaw Gardener and his non-blogging partner Tom. Unfortunately, I neglected to ask our waiter to take a picture of all of us, so I don't have any evidence of the wonderful, fun meal we had.

Instead, I thought I'd share some of the photos I took at the show. I had only made it to one afternoon of the Seattle garden show a few weeks ago, so I was itching for some inspiring display gardens. Interestingly, the showcase gardens at the YGP show were all walk-through gardens, which you seldom see at the NWFGS. It's always keep out, and look but don't touch. Another big difference that surprised me -- many, if not all, the gardens at the YGP show included lit firepits!

Although the plants weren't particularly exciting, I did like this knock-your-eye-out orange wall.

I loved these rusty wavy panels with flames in front of them.

Somehow -- perhaps dye in combination with a black liner -- they had made the water dark enough to give a great reflection of the dancing flames

This interesting structure was the centerpiece of this garden

The repurposed multipaned windows were not structural, but were just hanging free from chains

The mossy tablescape inside was cool, but left very little room for actually using the table

I thought this was a nice, abstract design for a water feature

It was situated directly underneath a moss- and vine-strewn pergola

I liked this view of the pond, firepit and bench on the patio

While it's interesting to do both fire and water in one, the enormous ugly gas line feeding the fire does nothing for me

Although I like the metal screen with cutouts, as well as the seating and the firepit, they kind of overdid it by including a second fire element

A cute hobbit house, covered in moss and ferns and poppies, but the tires seem out of place, like they wandered in from a different garden. Are there cars in Hobbiton?

I've considered a few times the possibility of installing a firepit of some kind in my garden. Nigel and I used to go camping when our son Iain was young, and I have great memories of sitting around the campfire. But I just don't think we'd get enough use out of it. What do you think of fire in the garden?


  1. I spent 6 hrs looking and ahhhing Sunday at the YGP show. I had to ask and it is 2 ozs of black pond dye to get that water black. I have added a small chinnery to my yard and love it in the summer time to have a fire. No my fire isn't even a match for what we saw at the show. Now hurry up Spring!!!

  2. Hi Alison, your area has fantastic garden shows! I can't imagine the work that goes into setting these things up for only a few days. Love the rusty iron in the garden, Carl has a stash of rusty iron in the shed, so I think it's time he moves it out into the light. (Or to the recyclers.)

    Those water features were amazing, fire and water, very dramatic, along with the black pond dye. You know we have a fire pit in our yard, but it ain't a beauty. I'm sure you'd enjoy having a fire feature (do they call them features?) they are very nice on a cool night.

    I am in awe of your greenhouse, oh, that is so cool. Love the chandelier and your initial inlays in the floor. What a wonderful place to work in on rainy days, too. Nothing like the smell of a greenhouse to brighten my day.

    And your hellebores post was wonderful, so many gorgeous blooms in single, double, speckled and frilly forms.

    Your posts always bring a smile, Alison, and a great deal of ooohs and ahhs, which make my dogs nervous, lol.

  3. I too loved the fire dancing on the dark pond water. It actually reflected off of many glass structures in that garden.

  4. I love fire in the garden. I'd love a gas fire pit for summertime (I don't like having woodsmoke smell on my clothes and skin) though I wouldn't want anything as crazy as they have in the display gardens. I have to settle for tiki torches right now!

  5. We have a portable iron fire pit that we can move around and set up or put out of the way. It works great for those few times that we use it.

  6. The show was lots of fun but it was mostly fun seeing fellow bloggers and walking around the show with you. I love the idea of fire in the garden. My terra cotta chiminea is now holding up a large pot of plants and the cast iron one we got later supports a large concrete bowl filled with water. Then I decided that a fire pit would be the bee's knees but only used it a couple of times to burn sticks that I was picking up one spring. It's now in the garage waiting to be repurposed as a sedum planter or something. The truth is that we don't spend much time in the garden sitting down because there's always something to do out there. The new gas fire pits that have the elements buried in glass so that the fire seems to be dancing atop the broken glass appeal to me but I'd never use one. If you and Nigel spend time sitting and enjoying your gorgeous garden, you should definitely add fire to your garden.

  7. We build fires in our free-standing fireplace all winter long. Come summer, we prefer to linger over dinners at a table under the cherry trees with the fire coming from candles. Enjoyed our lunch and this take on the show. Thanks.

  8. I enjoyed your photos, the fire features and garden sculptures and structures look great. The Portland show has a lot in common in types of walk-through gardens with the upcoming Vancouver Clark County Home and Garden Idea Fair at the end of April, which is free. There were a lot of fire features and outdoor entertainment features there last year. I'm looking forward to that show since they have a lot of plant vendors and great prices.

    I've been toying with the idea of a fire pit but didn't settle on one yet, the free-standing ones seem easy, but there is the question of whether I would use it or it would become a sedum planter.;-) I don't much like the smell of the smoke on my clothes either. I

  9. You were in good company there Alison! Looks like fire in the garden is already set to be trendy. Fire (the good sort, not the one that we had) can be a great feature in the garden but seems much suited to bigger gardens wherein you can also use it to cook food (fire pits). Be wary of the burning smells they can produce too. I think your garden has lots of space, so maybe it might be right for you?

  10. I love your photo of the rocky stream leading up to the bench. I think Loree said it was a massage table, but I like the idea of a bench better! I agree that the tires sticking out of the hobbit house kind of ruin the effect. Maybe they wanted to show those for educational purpose (to show what the house was made of), maybe they just ran out of moss, who knows?

  11. I love fire pits in gardens. I remember seeing some great examples at last years garden show. We have many projects that need to happen before a fancy fire pit, but hopefully one day we can have a small version. My kids would love the hobbit house... including the tires. They would climb all over the inside & outside of that house.

  12. So I totally agree with you about the use of boring plants at the show. I think I found 3 or 4 plants that were not run of the mill. Maybe I'll do a post about that.


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