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

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Visiting Seattle's Own Eccentrica Gallumbits

So, class, that title is an obscure science fiction reference if I ever heard one, isn't it? Who knows who Eccentrica Gallumbits is, raise your hand...

Anyone? Anyone?

A character in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of books, Eccentrica is the famous triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six. So, where in Seattle would you find a whore with three breasts?

Those do kind of look like boobs, dontcha think?

Oops, wrong Amazon

I've been wanting to get into town to check out the plantings outside the Amazon Spheres (there are three of them), ever since they opened this past winter. Loree at Danger Garden visited during her trip to the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, and posted about it here, and I really wanted to check up on those cool plants.

I usually do a "day in Seattle" every summer, so this year I figured it would be my visit to the Spheres. But I've had to put it off over and over all August, because of the wildfire smoke. I knew it would entail a lot of walking, and I wasn't up for inhaling all that smoke while engaging in physical exertion. All the air quality maps said the air was unhealthy to breathe for everyone, not just for the sensitive or those with compromised health. Finally on Thursday, the breezes blew through and cleared the air, and I thought "I'll do it on Friday."

Of course, when I got up on Friday, it turned out that some of the smoke had returned to the area in a  kind of meteorological backwash. But I went anyway.

It was pretty fabulous. Lush and green and wonderful. There's a lot I can't identify, but if you know, tell me. Also, there's lots of photos in this post, so get comfortable.

A combination of Pseudopanax ferox and Pseudopanax crassifolius at the entrance to the Understory exhibit, which tells you a little bit about the construction and philosophy behind the Spheres

Fuchsia speciosa

Tree ferns everywhere

There was quite a lot of this plant also, which I don't recognize -- so I'm going to call it Eccentrica gallumbitsii -- in fact, that's what I'm calling everything I don't recognize

Pyrrosia sheareri -- I thought it was P. lingua, but Loree IDed it as P. sheareri, and she's more knowledgeable than I, so I'm going with what she said

Another lush tree fern

Beesia and maidenhair fern

Nice to see even their Podophyllums are burnt

Huge clumps of Pyrrosia

Many weren't looking their best after our long, dry, hot, smoky summer

This looks like some kind of Bromeliad

This was IDed in Loree's post as Ochagavia carnea


Nice form echoes in the Mahonia, tree fern and maidenhair fern

Bloomed out Cautleya?

I should know this, it looks familiar -- something salicifolius?

Aralia-like fruit

Plenty of lush new growth

Fascicularia pitcairnifolia

Agave parryi at the foot of a restio

The area was absolutely crawling with people and dogs -- Amazon's corporate culture is very dog-friendly, they encourage their employees to bring their dogs to work. And they were celebrating International Banana Split Day, so the courtyard area had a huge tent set up where they were handing out free bananas and ice cream, and people were lounging everywhere. Normally, this many people would freak me out, but I was so engrossed in the plants I didn't care. Besides, they were busy eating and talking and walking their dogs. They weren't looking at the plants at all.

I was the only freak doing that.

I'm afraid this flowering plant is another Eccentrica gallumbitsii -- I have no clue

The bees were all over those flowers, which remind me of St. John's wort

This cutie is looking longingly down into the doggie play area, where three other dogs were romping




Sorry for the out-of-focus photo, this area was a bit breezy

Another plant I have no clue about, other than to suspect it's some kind of Aralioid

A closeup of the seed capsules and the new growth

Schefflera delavayi and Sinopanax formosanus growing into each other's space

A Bigleaf Magnolia had a good few leaves that had seen better days, they were a bit chewed up by being in a spot that might be perhaps a bit too breezy

Hardy Ginger

Papery bracts and seed capsules of Dierama -- all the while I was photographing it, I was beset to the right of me by a woman encouraging her pup to poop

Calycanthus, possibly 'Hartlage Wine' -- I couldn't detect a scent

One more plant that I have no ID for, but it does have beautiful blue flowers

Woodwardia and Blechnum were everywhere in this bed

Many of the Woodwardia had colored up, but this one was especially intense

I'm curious to know what this grass is -- I saw Sporobolus heterolepsis at the Hardy Plant Study Weekend for the first time, and this reminds me of it

I don't know either of these next two plants, but they have some nice bronze new growth.

Ginger flower closeup

What beats a Schefflera taiwaniana?

How bout two of them?

A nice foliage vignette -- I know Mahonia eurybracteata and Astelia, and maybe some kind of hardy Begonia-- but the rest are question marks

And that brings us full circle back to the entrance to the Understory exhibit

That Eccentrica! She is one luscious lady. And I haven't even ventured inside yet.

Amazon is now opening the Spheres to the public on two Saturdays a month. I have a reservation for September 15. Hopefully I'll get some good photos, even if I'm in a crowd being led around by the nose. And maybe I'll learn something.


  1. Thanks for braving the crowds for us! I can't wait to see your views of inside...the outside looks great. Why can't my work build things like this for us to hang out in?

  2. WOWSA! Thanks for the late August look at the garden. Some plants seem to have done quite well since I saw them last February, others not so much. That is a crowd! I'm glad you didn't let them deter you (did you grab a banana?). As for my Pyrrosia ID, you give me too much credit, I'm sure it was just a guess.

  3. I was excited when I saw your Instagram post - this expanded version is fabulous! I tried to think of any public building here that's invested to a similar degree in the plants surrounding it and came up with nothing (unless you count garden centers and most of those also come up far short in comparison).

    1. There's the Getty. Although maybe that doesn't qualify as public, but then again Amazon is a private company. And doesn't the Disney Center/South Grand Avenue have some pretty fabulous plantings?

    2. I thought of the Newport Beach Civic Center as a possible candidate, and am amused that 'A Growing Obsession' blogged about it today!

  4. We have talked about making a trip to town to visit the spheres too. Gotta put it on our list for September.

  5. Thank you for introducing me to this place, Alison! And thanks for the tour, and the links, and I even started back at Loree's post too, so saw the area's evolution from February. I like that dreaded People shot (!) as it shows the scale, and how the folks fit within it all. Very well, I say. Can't wait to (hope to) hear about/see your Sept 15 tour!!

  6. What an amazing place. And an amazing array of plants I have never heard of, fascinating! You're so brave, I'm no fan of crowds, either, must be the gardener in us?

  7. I've been meaning to get up there and see this and am happy to see your post! I think Eccentrica gallumbitsii number one is Pachysandra axillaris 'Windcliff Fragrant.' Stachyurus salicifolius. Eccentrica gallumbitsii (St. John's Wort Flowers) #2 looks like Eucryphia glutinosa. The shrub looks like a Skimmia. Blue flower is x Didrangea, a cross between Hydrangea macrophylla and Dichroa. Next two with the bronze foliage maybe Illicium anisatum and (total guess) itea ilicifolia. Two hardy begonias (the green one is Begonia pedatifida) in the middle is a plant that Loree has and I can't think of the name - yellow flowers -Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla maybe. Beesia calthifolia in the foreground? What a fun post!

  8. Great post. So much gorgeous foliage and lots of unusual plants. I am impressed by all Peter's identifications.

  9. I really like the tree ferns.

  10. The plantings really are gorgeous. I never detect a fragrance in my Calycanthus either. I've heard you should buy it in bloom to be sure to get one that smells. Interesting that they were all involved with dogs and ice cream which suggests that all that stunning natural environment is wasted on these folks. Get a banana split and take your dog to work and salary or benefits or environmental impact or anything else doesn't matter. Sorry for the rant. These giant corps are starting to annoy me!


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