Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

NW Flower and Garden Festival

As I mentioned in my last post Louie and I spent several hours the other day at the NW Flower and Garden Festival.  It’s celebrating its 30th year as America’s largest family-owned garden themed show.  It’s truly amazing!   There are a number of of demonstration gardens, which are what I’ll be showing you here.  But there’s also a huge marketplace with hundreds of vendors selling all manner of garden products, as well as miscellaneous show type stuff.   There’s also a large plant market with a number of specialty nurseries who offer miniature conifers, bulbs and tubers, even Japanese maples.  I could only handle it for a few hours before sensory overload hit and we had to leave.  But I got a lot of good pictures and I want to share them with you here.

All of these gardens were created by dedicated teams of volunteers in just the 72 hours preceding the show!  Incredible!  Of course none of them would make it outdoors as planted – they’re not meant as literal gardens themselves and their job is to showcase various themes and styles rather than an actual garden design.  They move in literally tons of rock, soil, mulch and of course hundreds of plants, ranging from a few inches to 20 feet or more tall.  I always get a lot of ideas for my own garden, but of course it’s already so over-planted I don’t really have room for more.  But next year I’ll plan ahead better and get some bulbs at least.  But then the reason we go is just to enjoy the sights.  I hope you do too!

OK, thats about it.  It’d be nice if I’d been able to remember each display, but I didn’t have writing materials and it would have been too hard to remember each one anyway.  But I hope that just the designs themselves will be satisfying for you, as it was for me.  If you have a garden show in your area please do find time to go to it.  You’ll be supporting a good cause and be able to see some amazing garden displays and get your own ideas for your garden at home.  It’s worth the trip.

Happy Viewing,




I was at the NW Flower and Garden Show yesterday and saw the Ikebana exhibit.  The designs were so attractive and evocative I wanted to share them with you.  According to a pamphlet I picked up Ikebana is described as the Art of Japanese Flower Arranging.   This show was put on by the Seattle Chapter 29 of Ikebana International.  The organization is a worldwide non-profit dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of Ikebana.  It has members all over the world, and 147 chapters in 60 countries with some 7,500 members.  There are 21 of the many styles that are represented in the Seattle Chapter alone, and  there are many more – 3,000 in Japan, I was told.   Their website is if you’d like more information. Here are the pictures I took yesterday at the Show.

I hope you enjoyed these.  They’re much more powerful in person, of course, but these give you an idea of how lovely they are.


Onion Art II

With thanks to my cousin Marilyn’s cousin Patrick in France.  Wow!!  He sent them to her because she was having surgery and he wanted her to have something to cry about!  Interesting sense of humor.  I just love the photos and the amazing ingenuity of the unknown artist who created these masterpieces.  I did another post of these a few years ago.  Most of these are all new.

Hummer Heaven

This is a Mahonia x media “Charity” and it’s a haven for the hummingbirds.  In the middle of Winter it’s hard for the little guys to find good food, but this is one place they can always get it.  It’s not uncommon to see several of them at one time on this bush.  Later on the flowers will turn into blue berries that are treats for other birds. All in all it’s a good plant for the bird lovers among us, tho it’s not so friendly to people.  It lives along a path to the greenhouse with the ferns and you have to be careful or it’ll stick you badly.  Still it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the risk.  It grows pretty fast too.  It’s been in the yard for about 6 years and is 8′ tall.  It’s in the Berberidaceae family, and is related to the barberries, various Oregon grapes and the nandinas.  It’s a cool family with lots of colorful plants and many of them have good food for the birds as well.  Check it out and enjoy!



This is the plant most folks think of when they speak of a Daphne. This is the classic Daphne odora “Marginata”, perhaps the most fragrant plant in the garden. When it blooms the whole front yard is filled with an intoxicating fragrance that permeates the air from the driveway to the hedge and up to the front porch as well. It even reaches out into the street at times. It’s truly amazing. I wish I could put a smell-o-meter on this post so you could experience what they smell like. These bloom in late Winter – in February and March when not much else is blooming and certainly nothing as fragrant as this plant. It’s one of my favorites in the whole garden. They’re native to Japan and China, as so many beautiful plants are…


This little gem is called Daphne “Lawrence Crocker” a hybrid between D. arbuscula and D. collina. It’s native to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. What a treat it must be to find this perfect specimen in the forests of that region. This is special plant that blooms so often it’s got flowers on it early in the spring and then blooms again later in summer. It’s in bloom now in fact and this picture was taken in April. You have to bend down on your knees to really smell this one, tho you can get a whiff of it standing over it sometimes. Here you can see it surrounded by our native Bleeding Heart and Wild Ginger.


This is the largest growing one I have. It’ll get to be a 4 or 5 foot ball. Its called Daphne transatlantica “Summer Ice” and is a hybrid of garden origin. It’s the one that Really blooms a long time. It starts in early spring with its first flush of flowers and then it begins again in June with another set that will last for weeks. It’ll keep flowers on it for months actually and they smell almost as strong as the Odora.  The two plants are only 5 feet apart on opposite sides of the garden in the front yard so we have a plethora of fragrance in that area for months on end. This plant is only about 3 years old so it grows fast. Next to it is another fragrant plant – a Sarcococca ruscifolia – that blooms even before the Daphne odora in January. We have a Very smelly front yard! 🙂


This last one isn’t fragrant at all really – maybe just a touch. But that’s not why we grow it. It’s for the lovely foliage and the wonderful mounding  habit it has. It’s called Daphne x Rossetti, a natural hybrid from the Pyrenees Mountains. It’s a bit crowded here with the foxglove that volunteered to grow next to it. I love their flowers so I let them stay, usually. This is a small plant that won’t get more than about 12 inches tall and wide. It’s been here for a couple of years now and has grown wonderfully well. It may not smell but it’s still a beautiful little Daphne.

As you may know Daphne was a figure in Greek Mythology. She was a Naiad, a type of female nymph associated with springs, brooks, wells, fountains and other bodies of fresh water. She was pursued by the god Apollo, whose advances she spurned. He got mad, as those male gods tended to do, and so she had to be rescued by her father, the river god Ladon, who turned her into a laurel tree to save her. Daphne means laurel in Greek and the way it associates with her comes from a plant called a “Laurel Daphne”, or “Spurge Laurel”. Today Laurel is associated with the Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) which is the plant whose leaves crowned the victors of the original Olympic Games, and are so good to cook with.

There are some 50-100 species of Daphne over the world, mostly in Asia, Europe and North Africa. They are known for their fragrance and poisonous berries. Lovely to see and smell, but don’t eat the fruit…!! Now where have I heard That before???

Stop and smell the flowers…



Nandina domestica, also known as Heavenly Bamboo, is a medium sized shrub that grows a bit like bamboo, thus the common name. But it’s actually in the same family as Barberry – the Berberidaceae. It can grow up to 8 feet tall, or more, with a spread of 4-6 feet given room. It grows in a fountain shape and the way you prune it is to lop off the tallest canes from the ground up and let the new ones take over, which they will do rapidly. This is a fast growing plant and this variety – “Moyer’s Red” – turns a lovely reddish shade in the winter.

The red berries follow the flowers you can see in the following pictures. In some you can even see a few berries. They are a common plant and in some areas are considered invasive, but not here in Seattle where we are. This is one of the few plants we have more than one of. Mostly I try not to repeat myself, but a line of them was too attractive to miss, so we did that as you’ll  see below. All the plants you’ll see are almost 8 years old, and are some of the first plants I planted when I moved in with Louie in 2009.


This is a shot of the front of the yard, as seen from the street. This is the first view people have of our garden. As you can see the Thuja pyramidalis behind the Nandina are about 16 feet tall and make a nice backdrop for them. In between them we planted Oregon Grape, also in the Barberry family. They have small purple berries on them now that are pretty good to eat, but are a bit sour so they’re best for jelly and such.  The Nandina berries are poisonous and even the birds tend to leave them alone.


This one is right by our front porch. It’s at least 8 feet tall, and there is a legend that if the Heavenly Bamboo gets taller than the door jamb that it protects the home.  This one will do that pretty well I’d say. It has a lot of flowers on it now and a few berries left over from last season. It frames the entrance to the house and provides interest all year round with its various changes.


This last one is by the door of the garage and is well over the door jamb, so I guess the garage is well protected. I did a little bit of fancy pruning on it to air it out some and give the form a chance to show itself off. You can see a couple of little reddish new shoots coming up thru the neighboring foliage at the bottom. I’ll let them grow and in time they’ll replace the taller canes now growing. It never turns very red because it’s in a north facing area and just doesn’t get much sun at all.  The ones in front do much better at changing color because they get so much more sun.

I’ve known Nandina for some 45 years of gardening and have planted so many of them in landscapes I really couldn’t begin to tell you how many of them I’ve put in the ground. They used them a lot where I grew up in central California and are in fact pretty overused there in places. I almost grew to dislike them when I worked there doing landscapes, but I’ve overcome my prejudices as I’ve gotten older and away from that business end of things. Now I just plant what I like and am happy with them.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these plants in various shapes. They’re nice plants for narrow spaces or for screening, and to provide that Asian flair for the garden. They aren’t hard to find and  there are many varieties, from small mounding shrublets to this tall natural form I’ve shown you. Some turn blazing red in winter, some don’t. All in all it’s a very versatile plant for many gardens.

Happy Growing!


A Garden of Heathers


I don’t have many Heathers and I’ve tried to group them into a bed by height and size. For once the labels on them were pretty correct and I was able to put the biggest ones in the middle and the smaller ones at the edges, but I don’t prune these so they all are getting quite big and wild looking. I like the look myself. It reminds me of seeing the Heathers on the moors in Scotland when I was there in my teens.  This shot shows the whole bed from the south with the Metasequoia at  the left side and the Ginkgo in the middle and the Heathers in between them all. I’ll show more with other views of the Heathers.


This one shows the Ginkgo Jade Butterflies in the middle of the bed, and also you can see the Carmina Heather on the left and the Irish Heath in the middle, as well as the Kerstin on the right edge and the Allegro in the top middle.


This is  a good shot of the Allegro, the biggest one I have. It’s gotten quite large and is as big as the Baby Blue Pisifera Cypress on the end. It’s in full bloom now.


This one shows the whole bed from the North side. You can see the Rockspray cotoneaster on the end and the Little Heath Pieris in the center before the heathers. At the right side is the side of the Elegans Cryptomeria, and on the far left is a  glimpse of the Manazanita, with the Veggie garden in the way back part. The tomatoes are Huge!


This one is of the edge of the bed from the South east. You can see the Baby Blue Cypress quite clearly It’s grown a lot in the last couple of years and may eventually get to the 6 ft it’s supposed to do. We’ll see. On the right you can see the path that winds thru the garden to deeper parts of it. Looks intriguing, eh? 🙂


This one shows the one Heath in this bed of Heathers. It’s in the front and is a Kramer’s Rote which is covered in deep ruby red flowers in mid winter when all else is bare here. It’s lush green now setting off the flowers of the rest of them. On its right is a H.E. Beale Heather next to the Little Heath Pieris. You can just see the head sculpture next to it on its right. It’s covered up a lot by the growing together of the plants over the years. You can see a clear picture of it on the “Art” page in the permanent archives part of this blog. It’s pretty cool to have art sprinkled around in the garden. It adds a nice new dimension to it all.


Here’s a shot of the Irish Heath close up. It’s a totally different plant than the other heathers and heaths. It’s a Daboecia cantabrica and has these deep blooms that are the typical bell shape of the Heath Family but much larger than the other heathers and heaths. It was a nice find at a local arboretum sale and has grown well in its tight spot. I keep the other heathers pruned away from it cause it’s so special…


Here you can see the wildness of the Allegro in the foreground and an Echinacea purpurea in the background. It’s next to the Elgans Cryptomeria. The Little Heath Pieris is on the right. The Gingko is on the left.


This final shot shows the Kerstin on the front and the Allegro on the back with the Baby Blue Cypress on the right side edge.  You can also see the Ginkgo on the left. And to the right edge is the Sequoia prostrate form I profiled recently. I know this isn’t much of a  formal Heather Garden but it’s what I’ve got and l personally love the wildness of it all. I may prune them some this year I dunno but I hate to do it. It’s so interesting to see how big they actually get and if they’ll stay green throughout or lose their inner leaves as they often do when left like this. It’s a gamble I’ll admit but I think it’s a good one.

It’s so delightful to see the many varieties of heater that I have in this small space. They all have a different look to them, some of them even turn color in the winter which is nice. It’ll be a thick bed as it already is and it’s grown so tremendously in the last 5 years it’s hard to imagine it was all so small so recently. Our peaty soil does wonders for plants like this in the Heath Family. They really love it as you can see. It’s rich and full of moisture even on hot days so water is still required but not a lot of it. I’m very happy with this bed of Heathers and others, and hope it continues to grow well in the future. Thanks for taking the time to visit me here and see them!

Hooray for Heathers!


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