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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Visit to the RSBG After the Plant Sale

One advantage of buying plants at the RSBG Plant Sale is that you get free admission into the garden. It's been a couple of years since I was there last, but it's always a wonderful treat! I don't think I've ever seen every corner of this garden, some day I'll go back and have a more leisurely stroll through it. I love the fern stumpery and I headed into the garden with that as my goal, with a few stops along the way.

Even the walkway from the parking lot to the entrance is interesting and lined with cool moss-covered plantings.

I headed first to the conservatory -- it's on the way to the stumpery, so I slipped inside.

Don't ask me what anything is, I haven't a clue, but it smelled delicious.

I've seen this strange spider-like plant before, it always intrigues me

Back outside now.

Fothergilla, I think

The floor looks at first to be carpeted with cardboard or brown paper, but it's actually the very large decaying leaves of Magnolia hypoleuca

Some of the Rhodies have a wonderful cinnamon-brown fuzzy indumentum

Unfurling ferns were everywhere

What's around the corner?

Rhododendron 'Bodnant Yellow'

A large swath of Pdophyllum pleianthum with enormous leaves

Huge stand of ostrich ferns

A Cardiocrinum/giant Himalayan lily that is getting ready to bloom this year

They've left stalks on some that bloomed last year -- the basal leaf growth is from pups that last year's plant has produced

The seedpods are like little toothy mouths

I spy the pond through the trees, but by now I'm near the stumpery, so I'm not tempted

The entrance to the stumpery

The Victorian fern stumpery at the RSBG is the largest public stumpery of its kind in the world, containing 140 stumps and logs in about a 1/2 acre. You can read more about it here.

It's my favorite place in the garden, it has a mystical atmosphere I've never found anywhere else. There's something delightfully mysterious about the twisty, plant- and moss-covered stumps and roots and branches. It brings to my mind my first visit to Washington state when I saw for the first time what a clear-cut logged piece of land looked like. It was kind of horrifying. This is like that, with that touch of horror, but muted by the fact that it's all covered in beautiful plants and moss.

I made my way back more or less the way I came in. I haven't shown half the garden, of course, in this post. There are areas I know I've never seen. I really should go back some day and use the map to cover every twisty path.

The RSGB is a wonderful garden. You should visit if you're in Federal Way. Check out their website here.

For pictures of the RSBG in much wetter weather:

Danger Garden: The Stumpery in early spring

The RSBG in early spring


  1. The stumpery is wonderful, and so much more interesting now that it has matured. The first year it did look like clear cut.

  2. The RSG is gorgeous at this time of year when everything is waking up. Like you, I usually run through part of the garden after the sale and vow to go back for a more leisurely and in-depth exploration. Maybe we should go there together sometime.

  3. Wonderful garden; so many different shades of green. You probably got some inspiration for your fern table.

  4. The moss alone is amazing. Looks like a lovely visit.

  5. Hi Alison! I'm envious of the stumpery. I should visit the RSBG again--it's been a while and I didn't see the stumpery last time.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I love the yellow Rhododendron, and the light on the Ostrich Ferns.

  7. Just reading your post, I felt myself breathing a little more slowly and deeply. Moss and ferns are magical. Sadly, we have little of either here.


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