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

Saturday, March 2, 2019

More From the NWFGF

In today's post I'm sharing more of what wowed me at last week's Northwest Flower and Garden Festival. I initially bypassed the big garden displays in favor of the smaller City Living gardens, but after lunch where my garden blogger friends Peter and Loree talked about the big display gardens they liked best, I had a good idea which ones I should focus my attention on. Often my taste coincides with theirs (although sometimes not!) They had both gone to the Tweetup that morning and Peter also went to the Preview for press personnel on Tuesday morning before the show opened, where local gardening personality Marianne Binetti gives everyone an entertaining walk and talk-through.

Here's my favorite display garden (it was also a favorite of Loree's, you can read her take on it here).

Patterns of Peace on Earth by West Seattle Nursery and Devonshire Landscapes, Inc. 
Designed by The Staff at West Seattle Nursery

From the Official NWFGS guide booklet: "Set your GPS for West Central Africa, with the picturesque nation of Ghana as the garden destination! Though this part of the world may not be represented often in a garden show, Ghana is known for its lush forests, miles of sandy beaches and beautiful architecture.

The 'indoors goes outdoors' in this garden, with houseplants (found in the Northwest) used extensively to represent tropical varieties found outdoors in Ghana. Patterns are used widely in the African culture, and this garden makes liberal use of this design element. Visual patterns are created through the arrangement of plantings, and a kickplate (painted in Ghana's unique Frafra-patterned style) frames the garden. A distinctive waterfall adds a visual focal point that creates further ambiance and a feeling of peace."

The garden used a lot of what we consider houseplants to evoke the plants that grow outdoors in the climate of Ghana. Ghana is located along the Gulf of Guinea (that indented part of the west African  coast) and the Atlantic Ocean. After its beginnings as a British colony, the nation won its independence from the U.K. in March 1957. Did you watch Season 2 of The Crown? There was an episode that made a big deal about Queen Elizabeth II dancing with the president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah.

I loved this garden, but I did have one quibble -- I wish they hadn't left the Ghanaian hut white. It unbalances every photo it appears in, and it's hard to keep it out of photos since it dominates the right hand side of the display. I found myself so taken with this exhibit that I've done some web research on Ghana and it wouldn't have been out of order to paint the exterior with Frafra designs as well.

Bromeliads do grow in Ghana, in the form of pineapples, so it's not so out-of-place to see them standing in for that agricultural crop

The line of conifers at the back is part of a neighboring display garden

The waterfall, with Bromeliads, a few different types of Sanseveria, some rusty Carex, Fritillaria, and black Mondo grass

The garden's kickplate with Frafra designs

What's not to like about this circle of green and gold Bromeliads dancing around a cluster of zebra-striped Vriseas?

The Bromeliads they used weren't unusual but they were all pristine

I liked this unusual combo of Fritillaria and red/purple striped Bromeliad

The garden included quite a few swaths of Albuca spiralis getting ready to bloom, and small rosettes of Sanseveria

In Loree's post about this garden she mentioned overhearing people discussing why it included so many houseplants that wouldn't survive planted out in the garden in the PNW, and she made what I thought was a valid point -- that perhaps it was meant to appeal to a younger crowd, who are getting into gardening by way of trendy houseplants like Albuca spiralis and Pilea peperomioides (both of which my daughter-in-law-elect has in her collection).

The plant here behind the Bromeliad looks like a restio, which is actually South African

I don't know what the big-leafed plant is with the red stems and orange back on the leaf -- some kind of Croton? Strelitzia?

I've read that Crotons are used in Ghana as windbreaks between areas of land, it might have been interesting to see those colorful plants in this garden.

Mystic Garden by Nature Perfect Landscape & Design
Designed by Nature Perfect Landscape & Design

"Mystery surrounds the stylized Chinese garden, a quiet 'poet's garden' but also a place for exuberant celebrations. Garden walls surround this enchanting spot, adding to its intrigue. But viewers will have ways to peak into this Sichuan-inspired garden through its distinctive moon gate entrance and windows strategically arranged around the hidden garden. Drawing you in with different perspectives, you'll see stepping stones leading to a tranquil pond and Chinese-style waterfall.

And look for the unusual, water-worn Gongshi or 'scholar's stone,' typical of the fantastically shaped stones that have inspired China's poets and painters.

Reflecting the style of gardens in this Chinese province, it's less formal than you might expect, with simple plantings unifying hardscape elements in the garden."

I was intrigued by that bit of forced perspective

Lots of people crowded around to admire this driftwood dragon

Mystic Garden won a ton of awards from the judges.

Orchids in Balance by The Northwest Orchid Society 
Designed by Joe Greinauer

"China's fabled Li River Valley is known for its dramatic topography, including towering, near-vertical sandstone karsts. It is also home to innumerable varieties of orchids, and in this garden you'll find hundreds of flowering orchids grown by members of the Northwest Orchid Society. 

Spotlighting the 'yin-yang' balance and peacefulness orchids provide, festival-goers may stroll through and around this garden. The amazing array of orchids are grouped by color and variety against a backdrop of basalt columns representing the karsts of the Li River. Structures of sustainable harvested, custom-made bamboo structures are symbolic of the villages in the valley.

The orchids on display range from common plants available in grocery stores to rare specimens that are only available for public viewing at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. It is a unique opportunity to see these plants in bloom."

Every year when I see the orchids in bloom I'm so charmed I find myself tempted to rush out and buy one or two -- or twenty. It's too bad I don't have the room for them in my greenhouse. What gardener wouldn't be charmed by a plant that flowers like this in the wintertime? This garden is probably the only one in the entire show that doesn't rely on forcing blooms out of season. One feature of this garden that I loved this year was that you could walk through it and get very close to almost every flower.

This monolithic stone was a centerpiece of the garden


Ravenna Gardens 

I love seeing what Ravenna has for sale every year at the show. Unfortunately because I didn't drive in, I decided not to buy anything. Now I'm hoping they might have those yawning baby heads at the shop in University Village in the spring.

I'd love to try mounting my staghorn fern on natural wood like cork


Viridescence is a neighborhood Seattle indoor plant shop, selling houseplants of all kinds, they had some enormous ones and also some tiny potted succulents and cacti.

A nice display of Tillandsia

I was very tempted by this Calathea, or the one below with its enormous leaves

Waldorf Kennels and Gardens

This vendor was in The Vintage Market, selling lots of metal garden art. What really struck me was the work they did ahead of the show putting some wall hangings together with succulents.

I loved this star-shaped piece of metal garden art planted with hens and chicks

They also sold them unplanted, so you could plant them up yourself if you wanted

Urban Earth Nursery

Urban Earth Nursery is another local Seattle nursery that carries perennials, shrubs and trees as well as tools and houseplants. They do design work too, and their designers put together one of the City Living displays that I wrote about in my previous post about the NWFGF.

Kokedama seemed very popular this year at a lot of vendor booths

That's it for my garden show coverage this year. Maybe next year I'll have more. Some years I feel more enthusiastic about it, and others I feel kind of meh. The big display gardens, and the vendor area as well, have a kind of same old, same old quality to them. It's been a tiring winter for me, although I am starting to perk up.