Our guest bloggers–who range in age from 11-to-75, had a terrific time attending and writing about their day at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
Here is an index of all their posts:
Orchids Coming Out My Ears
Reflections on the Orchid Show and orchid vendors
Junior Bonsai Warrior
An 11-year-old is enthralled by the Bonsai exhibits
Container Gardening Ideas
Exhibits, seminars, and cool stuff to buy for your container garden
Exhibits that help you dream big as you plan your own garden
Wrapping it Up
Flora’s nod to the wonderful show founders and organizers at Salmon Bay Events
Gidget Goes Green
Review of Sally Field’s seminar, “Gardening for Good Health”
So Much To See at the Show
“Must-see” at the Show
Lucy Hardiman on Design
Flora’s gleanings from Lucy Hardiman’s seminar on how to design and furnish your garden
High School Students Rate the Show ‘Really Cool’
Young botanists discuss their Show experiences
Live, from the Show, it’s Dianne
How to “do” the Show, live, from the Show
Eavesdropping on Show-goers
Snippets of overheard conversations, and tips for first-time Show-goers
Organic Gardening with Children
Ideas for gardening with kids
Ciscoe Morris Goes Tropical
Flora’s review of Ciscoe Morris’s seminar
Unbeatable Plant Picks for Your Garden
Great Plant Picks for 2008
Gen Xers Go to Market and Buy, Buy, Buy!
The wonders of the Show Marketplace
Review: Container Garden Exhibition
A close look at this year’s container garden displays
Seminar Reflections Reviews of three seminars
Reviews of three seminars
Opening Day Flora’s sensory perceptions about the Show’s opening
Flora’s sensory perceptions about the Show’s opening
Celebrating the Harvest…in February
Eat Your Vegetables! Edible Beauty at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show
Interview with Glen Withey
Flora’s chat with Glen Withey, “Bold and Bodacious Color” seminar teacher
I want to plan for some new, dark plants within the next couple of years. I will plant them against my white house walls and be the envy of my neighborhood. Any suggestions?
- Wants the Neighbors Stopping
Dear Wants the Neighbors Stopping (and Gabbing),
You simply MUST keep an eye on the Chocolate Flower Farm and their development of brand-new plants. They are busy hand-pollinating and collecting seeds to make some new conversation starters-guaranteed. Just try and keep your neighbors from snagging a cut! Here are the ones that co-owner, Marie, reports are in progress:
Delphinium elatum ‘Kissed By Chocolate’-Two years ago they purchased 350 Delphinium elatum ‘Black Shades’-fabulous English Delphiniums in a wide range of colors with brown and/or black coloring. Some were white with soft brushes of chocolate so they collected seed from the best of the best. Chocolate Flower Farm hand-selects them and continues to refine the strain and cull all of those that do not have the gentle strokes of chocolate on white.
Sunflower ‘BOB’-BOB stands for “Bordering on Black” and is their special sunflower that they have been hand-selecting seed from for the past three years to create the darkest sunflower possible. They will have a whole field of BOB this year and it will be quite a sight!
Nicotiana ‘Hot Chocolate’ (improved strain)-The strain of Nicotiana named “Hot Chocolate” was introduced in 2005 from a sport of Nicotiana langsdorfii by a competitor but it was inconsistent and there were many plants that were pink instead of maroon. For the past two years the Chocolate Flower Farm has been selecting the darkest to harvest seed from and culling all that are not a dark, dark mahogany color. Now, dear readers, they need a name for the improved strain and they want your help! They are considering “Dark & Sassy”, although having chocolate in the name would be nice too. Hmmm..how about “Dark Chocolate”? Please comment if you have an idea.
Viola-New chocolate strain, not yet named. They had an amazing sport of Viola ‘Velour Frosted Chocolate’ that they are trying to replicate – it has a much larger flower than the named variety and is much more chocolate in color.
For 2008, The Chocolate Flower Farm plans to work on Chocolate baptisia, Calendula, Zinnia, Marigold and others.
Plan your chocolate garden now with these beauties!
By Kathy Archer
I’ve always had a passion for gardening; perhaps I got it from my parents, who always had an awesome vegetable garden. Nothing like going to the garden and choosing something for dinner. I always liked how nice the yard looked after a hard day’s work. And it stayed looking good for days…unlike cleaning the house.
I started getting paid to do gardening eight years ago, when I got a full-time landscape maintenance job on Bainbridge Island. I’m 50 years old and glad I’m able to be outside at a job I like.
At 50, though, you really start to think about not hurting yourself when you are gardening, especially when it’s your livelihood. I’d like to share some tips about gardening tools, because I’ve used a lot of them. I must confess I’m a very practical person, and a bit of a tight wad.
I think most home gardeners would get by with the following tools:
- a pair of Felcos (the 2 is my favorite)
- mini mattock
- long- and short-handled loppers (sometimes there is no room between branches to use the long handles)
- pruning saw
- light-weight shears
- Hori Hori Knife
- hula hoe
- pole pruners
I’m 5’2″ so my preferences may be different than a tall person’s. I also have a lot of strength in my hands from constant gardening. I usually wear rain pants and work on my knees to save my back. Knee pads are a must when working in gravel or bark. I recommend choosing knee pads that are water proof—ones that let the least amount of material get packed in between your pants and your knee pads. You should be able to get them on and off with gloves on.
If you are shearing low-growing shrubs, use long-handled shears (less bending). If the terrain permits, sit on a gardening stool and prune.
If you really want to make an investment for shearing, extended-reach power hedgers are the tool. You can shear over your head less time on a ladder), or reach low growers without much bending over. We use them at work for shearing native sword ferns and ornamental grasses in early spring. Just think of all the new friends you have if you owned one of these! If you are not able to pull start two-cycle engine power tools, it may not be the tool for you. Power hedgers are great for clearing out blackberries too. We almost never use the standard power hedgers.
I wasn’t sure about the ratchet pruners I saw at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I would probably use a pruning saw on large limbs, and it would take about the same amount of time as a ratchet pruner. If you are struggling with your pruner, it may be dull, or you have abused it and bent the blade.
At the Show, I saw a lot of tools with plastic incorporated into them. I would be hesitant to buy these, even though plastic makes the tools lighter in weight.
When deciding which tools you need, it really comes down to what you like to use. Decide how much you want to spend and how much you will use the tool.
Here are a couple I recommend for different size yards:
- In a yard with beds that are on a regular maintenance schedule, a hula hoe will weed a large bed quickly if weeds are small.
- For large perennial weeds with deep tap roots, the Hori Hori knife and mini mattock get the job done.
About the columnist: Kathy Archer attended the Northwest Flower & Garden Show for the second time this year. She rode a city bus to the Show from the Bainbridge ferry.
On the subject of growing a successful crop of future gardeners, let me pass on a few helpful hints.
Children love things that are a miniature of our full sized “stuff”. Remember that doctor’s kit you played with? Remember the set of play pots and pans and dishes? I know I am not the only one who had hours of entertainment with them. Do it for them (and with them) in miniature. For instance, plan a small plot for them in your garden where they can plant, weed and harvest.
With a European flair, they can learn the skills of cooking from a kitchen herb garden, right outside the kitchen door or in a bright kitchen window. Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary and Mint are just a few of the possibilities. And as they’re helping you make soup or stew or pizza sauce, they can snip to their heart’s content and add it to “the pot”.
Make flower growing an outing. Go to a nursery or store, and walk the rows and rows of beautiful flowers with them. Let them pick out their choice of colors, teaching as you go: annuals, perennials, water needs, sun/partial sun, etc.
Some good flower choices for kids to grow include Marigolds because of their bold color, reasonable cost and long blooming season. Pansy’s have a cute face and a sweet scent. Or how about bulbs in the Fall? Imagine their excitement when they’ve forgotten about planting them, and daffodils and tulips greet them in the Spring?
It’s a small world, after all!
I moved here 10+ years ago from San Antonio, where “ya’ll” is the plural of you and sneezing in a store brings a chorus of “bless you’s” from fellow shoppers.
The Northwest is not like that. But what is universal is the friendly spirit of gardeners everywhere. As long as we are not both reaching for the last rare plant, we are delighted to help each other. At the Show, I heard vendors and show-goers alike responding to questions from budding (I could not pass it up) gardeners.
My initial purpose was checking out the orchid show. The Northwest Orchid Society and Mariposa Imports had a nice display in the garden area. This year there were fewer orchid vendors—just one from Hawaii, a couple from California, and a couple from Washington. The plant quality was great, even during the last day of the Show.
On the drive up from South Pierce County, I reminded myself to stick with phaleonopsis (the moth orchid), which I do well with. Periodically I yield to some of the more exotics, and then sadly watch them decline.
So all was well until I spotted the new “50 percent off” sale sign at the Hawaii booth. Like moths to a flame, we shoppers altered our path and fluttered around their tables. I did restrain myself to only four more exotic orchids; I hope they like my new lighted growing cart.
If you have not been to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, put it on your calendar for next year. The dates are February 4-8, 2009, and it is a fabulous breath of spring in our overcast skies. I appreciate next year’s earlier dates since this year we were already into better weather.
Thanks to all the people who put on this wonderful show!