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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The NHS Spring Ephemeral Plant Sale (And What I Bought)

I mentioned in my post about Ravenna Gardens that Nigel and I went into town last weekend to the NHS plant sale at the Center for Urban Horticulture in the University District. The CUH is a small complex of buildings that are part of the University of Washington (aka UDub), and has an interesting history. In 2001, Merrill Hall, one of the CUH buildings, was the site of a firebombing by eco-terrorists. It was subsequently rebuilt and became the first LEED-certified building at the university.

For a little more historical background on the firebombing at the Center for Urban Horticulture, go here. And there's some information on the rebuilding process here and here. You can find information about LEED certification here.

There is also a lovely garden in front of the Center, currently in winter mode.

Entrance to the garden, with the CUH behind

The sale was spread out between two areas inside the building complex.

This room was really packed with people, making movement difficult -- amazingly, people were actually maneuvering baby carriages through here

Cyclamen hederifolium

Bellis perennis

Gorgeous lush stripey Crocuses

Little baby Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican Hellebore)

Saxafraga stolonifera 'Maroon Beauty'

The other vendors were ensconced, not technically in another room of the building, but in a solarium in the courtyard of the complex, with some plants for sale spilling out beyond the door.

Lee Farm always has lots of great four-inch pots of staples

Saxifraga dentata (I tried this once several years ago and instead of spreading like most saxifrages, it disappeared rather too quickly)

Celestial Dream Gardens had some choice plants

A different Saxifraga stolonifera called 'Hsitou Silver'

And my favorite hardy Geranium -- G. phaeum 'Samobor'

It's always fun to chat with Judith Jones from Fancy Fronds, she had great ferns and an unlimited wealth of fabulous advice on growing them

Once I had chosen and paid for my plants, I headed back to the car, with a quick stop for a look around the garden.

Most of the soil was pretty bare but this central fountain was making a pleasant sound

Winter-stressed Sedum Angelina is so brightly colored!

It makes a nice contrast against the ferniness of this fern

Here's my box of goodies in the back of the car

I thought I'd give each of them their own beauty shot.

Saxifraga stolonifera 'Maroon Beauty' -- which I've wanted ever since I saw it in the ground at Heronswood

Cyclamen hederifolium

Great leaf patterns

And bright color underneath too

Two Corsican Hellebores -- I have lots of the fancy colorful ones, I thought it was time to try something different

I was smitten with that jagged edge on the leaves

I couldn't resist two of those 'Hsitou Silver' Saxifrages from Celestial Dream Gardens

The new foliage is cute

About 'Hsitou Silver," from the Far Reaches Farm catalog -- "A superb collection of this Strawberry Saxifrage by the Wynn-Jones of Crug Farm who found this in the Hsitou area of Taiwan. Fantastic green leaves variegated in silver-white and while it could be our imagination taking wing after being bowled over by the foliage, the white flowers seem larger than usual on their 18"-24" stems."

Two Iris foetidissima -- I've been wanting to try this plant for a while now, finally found some (please ignore the ugly backdrop of my untrimmed winter garden)

Beesia calthifolia, which I probably could have found at Watson's, but they were right there in front of me, so....

Polypodium glychoriza grandiceps 'Diane' -- a crested form of our native licorice fern from Fancy Fronds

From the Fancy Fronds catalog -- "A stunningly crested version of the Pacific Northwest native licorice fern!  Like other licorice ferns, 'Grandiceps Diane' is wintergreen, holding its fronds through the fall, winter and spring and then taking a brief rest during the dryest periods of the summer.  They are capable of growing vertically in thick patches of moss (typically found on big-leaf maples), and can also be cultivated on the ground or in shallow containers or hanging baskets.  This showy version of the licorice fern also makes an excellent container specimen, as they do not mind irregular watering and are capable of going dormant during periods of drought."

I think this licorice fern might be a good candidate for a fern table. Wouldn't it look appropriate looking like it was growing out of a branch encircling the mound of soil?


  1. Great haul! Wasn't it fun to step outside of winter mode and enjoy a plant sale in the sun?

  2. I wish we had sales like this. I love that Saxifrage but, as they don't "do" SoCal, I'll enjoy it from afar in your photos.

  3. I guess the plant-a-holics were out in force for the first sale of the (winter) season. Interesting plants you got there, but I noticed that the prices seem high. Is that because they are more rare forms?

    1. Hmm...I thought the prices were really good. I bought 'Maroon Beauty last fall from Far Reaches and it cost me $12.00, but these were only $5 each for the same size pot. 'Hsitou Silver' was also cheaper, and the fern on Fancy Fronds website is $30.00, but at the sale Judith was selling it for $15.00. I did just buy another Cyclamen hederifolium at Windmill that was cheaper than these, but it also had really tiny leaves.

  4. It was super crowded, nice to see so many people buying plants. I picked up a few of those Bellis perennis, among other things, they were too cute and cheap to pass up. I didn’t look close enough at the ferns, missed that licorice fern!

  5. Nice haul! I would love to attend one of the NHS plant sales one day, heck I should also make it back to the Center for Urban Horticulture, haven’t been there since the Seattle Fling in 2011.

  6. "ferniness"... I love that word.
    I also bought a Corsican Hellebore, for the exact reason you did. Plus its so small it would fit anywhere, at least for a while.

  7. That looks like a great plant sale.

    The cyclamen is beautiful. I hadn't heard of licorice fern before, it's really unique and interesting looking.


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