NWFGS Sneak Peek!

Today our crew drove down to Seattle for a sneak peek at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show gardens. And boy oh boy was it worth the trip! The gardens were just spectacular this year. Now we wouldn’t want to post too many spoilers. But here’s a little peek at the innovative, artful and amazing gardens we saw today.

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A ‘mother/daughter’ garden by Sue Goetz and Courtney Goetz with a garden ‘retreat’ to please both generations, fully equipped for a zombie attack no less.

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A joyous ode to ‘upcycling’ from the lovely Vanca Lumsden and Judith Jones. Plant geeks take a close look at this garden, there are plants here esp. ferns that you won’t find anywhere else.

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As always, the small gardens in the Sky Bridge were every bit as exciting as the larger gardens.

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We especially appreciated this teeny tiny Seahawks garden by garden author Janit Calvo. So pretty!

We’re headed down to the show again this Thursday on our party bus. What fun! If you want to join us, there a just a few seats left. Call us tomorrow between 9 am and 5 pm to reserve your spot: 360-676-5480

Hope to see you all there!

‘Garden Spots’ ~ Becky Brownlie’s Shaded Retreat

By Erin Meier

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It was clear from my first glimpse of Becky Brownlie’s garden, that here was a woman who loved plants. The range of foliage and texture in her garden is truly stunning. When I arrived, she invited me inside and we chatted about her garden over tea and a freshly-baked lemon verbena cake.

Becky and her family have lived in their current home for just over nineteen years. Previously, they lived in South Africa, where Becky actually studied botany at the University of Cape Town. It was, Becky told me, an exhilarating place to study plants because of their Mediterranean climate.This translated to an astounding diversity of plant species within a small area.

When they moved to their current home, she began work on the garden right away. Originally, there were just a few Portuguese laurels, some pine and an ornamental cherry. What she’s done since then, has been almost entirely on her own.

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Every hole that was dug, every weed routed and “every edge on every stone” as she said. And while some might find such a project overwhelming, Becky says that she found the process exhilarating.

“The thing I’ve learned the most is how to get continuous seasonal interest”. In the spring, Becky’s garden is awash with the blooms of spring bulbs, rhododendrons, azaleas and clematis. As the season progresses, alliums, roses, and irises all make an appearance. “Irises and lilies are fantastic workhorses,” Becky pointed out. “Bulbs are often underestimated, they can fill gaps in the garden and there are some good ones that bloom at weird times.”

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Becky is particularly fond of asters, or ‘my aster symphony’ as she calls it and said that she would “never plant a garden without asters…or sedums…or grasses…” And she would “never live without hostas and maples.” Like many true plantswomen, Becky has a hard time picking her favorite plant.

But it’s not just plants that make Brownlie’s garden a thing of beauty. There is a purpose, and a mindfulness to the placement of every plant, piece of art or hardscaping throughout the yard. I asked her who her design influences were and she cited perennial favorite Rosemary Verey as well as the innovative Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. I myself, particularly felt his influence at the entrance to the garden, where bold drifts of perennials and grasses create a riot of texture.

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I also had to ask Becky about the pretty chickens perched here and there in her garden. It turns out, that they are actually from South Africa where trash such as plastic hangers and bags are often re-purposed into art. They also make beautiful toys out of electric wires and plastic tops. Really, you can re-purpose anything, Becky says.

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As an apartment gardener, who regularly tweaks and ‘makes-do’ to create my own garden, I found Becky’s perspective re-freshing and inspiring. Her garden is truly a ‘retreat’ for plant lovers and art lovers alike.

Designing with Flower Bulbs: Deb’s Top 3 Tips

By: Debra Olberg

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Nothing says spring quite like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and friends blooming for all to see. Bulbs can bloom in succession from very early spring, to mid-spring, and late spring giving your garden a full season of color. Depending on the bloom time, you can plant for a show of color all at one time or it can be over a several month span.

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number onecroppedInterplant flower bulbs with a carpet of low-growing annuals or perennials like pansies, violas, arabis (rock cress), aubrieta, campanula, cerastium (snow in summer), cotula, erodium, hardy geranium, iberis (candytuft), blue star creeper, wire vine, corsican mint, creeping phlox, creeping thyme just to name a few.

These combination plantings give you two layers of color and a longer blooming season.

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number twocroppedUse flower bulbs to line a walkway or path to invite people into the garden or as a border in a flower bed. Use the smaller growers along the walk and graduate to the taller types in the back.

Some great shorties to try are: Chionodoxa (glory-of-the-snow), crocus, eranthis (winter aconite), galanthus (snowdrops), miniature iris, muscari (grape hyacinth), miniature daffodils, puschkinia, scilla (bluebell), species and rockery tulips. Have fun developing planting patterns amongst your shrubs and perennials.

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For maximum color impact, plant bulbs in masses of 40 or more bulbs of a single variety. Arrange in drifts (for an informal garden) or geometric beds (for a formal garden). Always avoid planting in single rows or isolated beds.