Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gardenpalooza plants

I just realized that a month has gone by. I had said I would write about my plants from Gardenpalooza in a couple of weeks. Sorry about the delay! Spring is so busy that times slips away...
It seems this year that I purchased several tropical and temperate plants. I purchased way too many to go over all of them but I will high-lite some of my favorites.
Burl from Rare Plant Research is one of my favorite people and nurseries. He got alot of my money this year.
Gluacium Flavum is a great zone 7 perennial with bright orange poppy like flowers. The 'horned poppy' is so named because of it's seed pods. They are long, semi-curved creatures that do indeed look like slender horns and appear after the plant has bloomed. Quite a conversation piece. Yellow is the usual color but the orange one (which I bought) is much more dramatic to me when it blooms against the grey/blue foliage.

Aechmea blanchettiana looks like a bromiliade on steroids and is a member of that family, with the exception that it is terrestrial which simply means it grows in the ground and not up in trees. I have had this one before but for some reason...even in my greenhouse, it expired this year. Not to worry...Burl had more! I love this plant because in the full sun during summer it takes on a wonderful reddish orange tone to it's massive leaves. A stunning specimen indeed.
Many years ago we were filming with Dan Hiems at his home. In the ground he had a hardy Schefflera (a houseplant commonly called umbrella tree). The name is Schefflera delvayi. Even though I have seen this plant outside and winter hardy, having lived in Ft. Lauderdale Fl and knowing the difference in climate from here to there...I just can not get myself to plant it it in went in the ground in my greenhouse. At 50.00 bucks a pop I am not taking any chances!

Edelweiss Perennials is a wonderful nursery owned by a great guy named Urs. His plants are consistently beautiful and well grown. From him I bought Hellebourus abruzzicus. This new found introduction was found in the Abruzzia area of Italy, it has amazing deeply cut leaves. The flowers are pretty but the foliage is it's true glory.

I also got a great Pinella 'Gold Dragon" They grow into sturdy stands of long tongued (10") 'jack in the pulpit' type blooms, plus the color of the flower and leaves is a chartreuse yellow color. Great for highlighting a shady area.

Leonard from Dancing Oaks hooked me with the Tulip 'Fire of Love' His tag on it said 'with leaves like this who needs flowers?'. I couldn't agree more.

For the life of me I can not remember where I got this last plant I will tell you about. It's name is Salvia Chiapensis. The Family Saliva is huge. There are so many different plants with an array of colors and fragrances. This one was a new one for me and although it can grow natively upwards of 6000 ft in the mountains of Mexico, I planted it in the greenhouse. We are a lot more wet than Mexico and cold and wet is totally different than cold and dry. As with so many of the Saliva's this one promises to attract hummingbirds. It's beautiful tubular shaped fuchsia colored flowers do seem to be exactly what the tiny fowls enjoy.
So there you have it. A short list of a few of the plants I got at Gardenpalooza. Sorry it took so long...
Happy Gardening,

The big pile!

I have always been a little intimidated by composting. It seemed so...difficult. Then...a few weeks ago we did a segment on the show with Jan Mcneilan ( and I really got inspired.
There were several reasons I did not want to compost..
1st...I did not want this huge ugly 'thing' in my yard... would be too much work with the turning of the compost pile and the additives to make it work and on and on and on...
3rd...did I mention it would be too much work?
Well...we filmed the segment and Jan had this amazing compost pile and all she did was...nothing but pile the debris up...really...she made a pile and left it. No turning, no additives, nothing. I thought while we were filming...'I could do this'
I have more than 60 trees in my gardens at home and right behind my property are several 60' tall I have a ton of leaves each year that I usually send to a land fill. Armed with my experience with Jan I decided to give her methods a try.
I raked up the leaves and piled them in the veggie garden. As I did not do a great job last year of clean up, I had a lot of leaves. I have also been putting any weeds I have pulled into the pile. When the gardens are finished and ready for about a week...I will cover the whole pile with plastic to hide it a little and assist with heat from the sun in the decomposition. The pile does not look that bad and by next spring I will have a ton of great compost for my yard and veggie garden. Plus...I will be NOT sending over a hundred bags of leaves to a landfill.
Hopefully by now you all know me well enough that if this is a failure for me I will totally tell you. But if it works...I can't wait to spread the rich new compost over everything. It really makes me feel good to think I am doing more than in the past to be self contained a leave a smaller footprint on this earth.
So if composting seems out of reach, if you don't think you don't have the space, if you are intimidated by the idea..take hope! It really is easy. Thanks Jan for teaching this old a dog a new trick.
Happy Gardening,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Michelia Figo

I just finished planting a new shrub. It's name is Michelia Figo, commonly known as banana shrub.
This amazing member of the Magnolia family is stunning. After viewing Ray Schreiner's ( of Schreiner's Iris Garden fame) private gardens I have fallen in love with Magnolias again anyway, so the Michelias are just a small step in a little different direction from the rest of that family.
Figo is an evergreen shrub that can be pruned, but they say it is best left to it's own growth habit, which will ultimately be about 15' high and wide. It's true glory though is the blossom. Like many members of this family, that is what draws us to them.
Starting with a whitish 1" bud, it eventually opens to reveal a yellowish bloom about 2-3 inches wide. On each petal there is a blood red edging. But wait...there's more. Although I do have buds on my plant I purchased they have yet to open but when they do I have it on good authority that the blooms smell like bananas...thus the common name. Blooming from spring thru summer, you will have a long time to enjoy their fragrance.
It is technically a hardy shrub here (zone 7, marginally, thru 10) I am thinking it is more like 8 or 9) so I planted mine in a protected place inside my unheated greenhouse because to oft have I been burned by what others tell me is hardy! I would think if it was hardy here we would already have it in our yards.
Even if it struggles some I believe it will be well worth the effort. I have never seen this at nurseries here in Portland but bought mine from my good friends at Gardino's Nursery in Del Ray Beach, Florida. I have been buying marginally hardy plants from them for years and thier products always come perfectly wrapped and always looking great. It's like Christmas to me every time I order from them. And they are not cost prohibative either...which is nice.Originally from China, banana shrub was introduced to the United States in late 1700s and is one of the classic evergreen shrubs of the old south and since I was born in Texas...well you get the idea. But I never did see one while living there so I am not sure how 'classic' it could be.
It also likes acidic soils, which we have in abundance here in the northwest, and good drainage. You can order this plant yourself from Gardino's Nursery, Remember that even if it's name is banana shrub, no parts of the plant are edible, fragrance notwithstanding.
I will be blogging more in the next couple of weeks on some of those kickin' cool plants I got at Gardenpalooza! With the few sun breaks we have had this week I did get everything planted. I will enclose some pics as well.
Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gardenpalooza Wrap 2010

I gotta be honest...I thought going to Gardenpalooza this year would be dismal! The weather was not going to act well and I really had misgivings about its success. When I am wrong I own it and boy was I wrong!

Thousands of people faced the ridiculously rotten weather. Heck in the calm frenzied shopping I got caught up as well and left with dozens of treasures of my own. I just got home a few minutes ago and was trying, on the ride back home, to define how and why it was so great even with the extenuating circumstances. I boiled it down to three groups of people.

1st are those people we in the biz call 'vendors'. These people were there wrapped up like the little kid on a Christmas bundled up you would have thought they all put on 50 lbs each...but there they were, plants filled in and ready for customers. From the plant vendors to the charming fellow that built furniture out of old...things, to the food vendors (beef chili soup and Granny Smith apple fries, yes fries. Gartner's Meats was there again. And don't even make me mention the donuts made fresh right there at Fir Point Farms) there was something for all your senses.

There is a web site called the 3/50 Project ( If you have not heard of this, please take a few minutes to check it out. I hope that each of you will understand the need to shop locally. In January I met the lady that created this program. She had such an easy; simple concept and it could and should work for folks like the vendors at Gardenpalooza. Although Gardenpalooza is once a year, these good people sell year round. So kindly support them when you can. There is a list of the vendors on They were outstanding today. Thank you all for sharing this function with us at Garden Time.

2nd group are those amazing, wacky, and just slightly off kilter people (of which I am very proudly one) named Gardeners. Thousands of you braved the climate to attend and purchase all kinds of gardening and human treats. And purchase you did. I am not sure, although I have lived coast to coast in this great country, that I have ever encountered such wonderfully fanatical humans. I truly did think there would be this obvious drop in attendance but boy was I wrong. Overall, there were less people but still it was a mass of moving humanity almost the whole day. I am so proud to be a part of this industry and this group of us that love to garden. And talk about kind hearted and funny! I laughed so much today my jaws ached. Questions,stories, ideas...that kind of interaction is priceless. Thanks to all of my fellow gardening freaks out there. It's a pleasure to be part of the family 'Plantnerd'.

3rd and last group are the viewers that watch Garden Time. From around 9am till about 1:30pm, Judy and I were chatting non-stop and almost always with fans of the show. I wish I could express how grateful all of us at Garden Time are for each of you. Without you there really would be no Garden Time. You support us by buying from the vendors and sponsors of the show which allows them to advertise, which allows the show to be on KOIN Local 6. It proves first hand how completely interconnected everything is. Plus your passion for your yards is gratifying...and many of you are too funny!
So to all of you that traipsed thru the mud, withstood blowing wind and biting cold, occasional downpours...a big huge THANK YOU! And to all of you that were there behind the scenes, Therese Gustin (the maternal side of Garden Time, Sarah, Hannah (Jeff and Therese's lovely daughters) and Jen (Sarah's best you). Jerry Yost (Gartner's Meats) brought his boy JC (you rock dude) for the first time, Jim Hughes (all around amazing man), and our new hosts at 'Fir Point', Erika and Aaron Wilcott...and to all the ones I haven't mentioned, we would be lost without you.

Is it too early to mark it on your calendars for next year...well, yes because the exact date isn't set yet, but you can get a general idea.

My free time this week will be working the stunning plants I got into my gardens and working off the apple fries! But totally worth it. I have long thought that the gardeners of the Northwest are serendipitous treasures, each and everyone. I think it is what helps make this area of our beautiful country the richest in the land. See you all next year at Gardenpalooza 2011!

Happy Gardening,