Monday, February 15, 2010

Ga-ga at the garden show!

No, not that Ga-ga!  Maybe I'll style myself "Lady Garden Gaga" and dye my hair green.  Though I suppose compost brown would do just as well and has the added benefit of not running the LFG hubby off.

I've never even heard a song by Lady Gaga, so I have no opinion on whether she's any good. I think the LFG hubby said she's good at poker or some other card game, but that is the extent of his knowledge. If I were to judge a book (or album) by it's cover, I'd guess she wasn't strolling the Northwest Flower and Garden Show aisles at the convention center in downtown Seattle. Perhaps she's on a tour bus somewhere or getting her roots touched up....

I, however, was  "ga-ga" at the show.  People that have been deprived of green for months on end get a little tired of white and brown, and I was no exception.  As soon as I walked into the display garden room, BAM (as that TV chef says), my jaw dropped.  And my camera came out.  Several other blogs, much more reputable than mine, have given a photo tour of the display gardens, so mine will be (mercifully) brief.  (See my last post for the garden vendor bling lowdown.)   

I just love all the grasses and sedges that were used in the display gardens. Most aren't perennial in Alaska, but I can't have everything my way, now can I?

 "Hey there, darlin'...are those shoes suede?"

Why don't I seem to be able to combine plants this cleverly?

I think this is supposed to be a tongue in cheek thing about recycle/repurpose.  I would laugh if I hadn't seen actual junk vehicles adorned with plants up here in the Great Land.  Not quite as prevelant as blue tarps, but a go-to style idea for some nonetheless.

The colors on this small display space were especially nice (and trendy, too.  Isn't turquoise the color for this year?).  Very cheerful!  I wonder if those cafe chairs are really comfortable?  The seat looks as if it might be a bit snug.

A bright spring scene, to be played out in gardens at least two zones warmer than mine.

The presentations, of which I have no pictures, were heavily attended.  At least the handful I listened to.  A person in front of me in line (the ticket line, mind you, not the actual walking into class line) was muttering something that sounded suspiciously like "longer lines than Disneyland."  I met several people who claimed to be from Alaska, and saw in the crush (I'm almost positive) several Anchorage area Master Gardeners, including our esteemed Cooperative Extension Agent Julie Riley, as well as Debbie H., Mary Jo B., and Robbie F.  I also endured (in line again, but of course) a couple of very funny persons that, when they found I was from Alaska, asked me if I enjoyed the two months of summer?  Ha, ha.  And yes, I do.  It's actually one month, but don't tell anyone you heard that from me....

More Carex.  I love to use them as annuals in pots, since they usually aren't hardy for me in-ground.  This bubbling fountain would be so nice in my yard.  I don't suppose they have a "carry-on bag" size I could tote home.

So how were the speakers, you're wondering?  And did I learn anything new?  Before I answer, I should be clear: I don't go to the show for the speakers (though I was very disappointed I missed presentations by the rockstars of ornamental grasses, Rick Darke and John Greenlee).  I go for the green fix.  But while I'm there, I do enjoy stopping in on some of the talks. 

Most fun: Ciscoe Morris.  If I had half his energy, the house would be Mary Poppins clean, the kids would be violin prodigies, and I might be running for president in 2012. 

Most inspirational: Val Easton.  Her talk on making the garden a bit lower maintenance so it can actually be enjoyed was full of colorful slides and great tips.  The slides were like optical caffeine.  Now where to get my next fix? 

Best audience experience:  Every talk was opened with the now ubiquitous "turn off gadgets" warning.  (Sure enough, every talk had a cell or two go off and I had a neighbor texting next to me once.  I gave her a subdued version of the "are you kidding me" look and after a few more hurried messages, she put it away.  Good grief.)  During one presentation, I observed a near brawl between two women about a cell phone.  One woman, we'll call her Woman A, had her cell go off (it was hooked on her belt) for three or ten rings before she got to it.  Her neighbor, Woman B, ardently trying to listen to the speaker above the ruckus, was visibly upset by the fact it was ringing at all.  After Woman A finished her call (yes, she finished it!), Woman B told her to turn off her phone.  Woman A ignored her.  How do I know?  Woman A's phone rang again.  I could see neck veins bulging in Woman B by now and she commanded A to turn off phone and B studiously affected an "I'm not listening to you" pose.  I'm guessing the call wasn't life altering as it didn't contain the phrase "doctor" or "Mr. President" in it, but what do I know?  By this time, I have given up all pretense of listening to the speaker and concentrated on the soap opera in front of me.  Two thumbs up.

There were a couple of talks where I had to prop my eyes open, but I won't name names.  

I'm attending a wedding this week here in Alaska.  I'm pretty sure no one has outdoor weddings, like the delightful one pictured above, up here this time of year.  The bride would have to wear bunny boots and carharts otherwise.  And snowpants on the flowergirl just aren't as charming as that cute yellow dress and white gloves.

Something about dark pots...they just make the planting look so sophisticated.

OK, here's a few more random shots from the show:

If you didn't make it to the NFGS this year, just close your eyes after scrolling through these pictures and imagine you were there...naturally you'll need a cell phone to ring in the background to make the experience authentic.  I used to think that certain places were sacrosanct as far as people refraining from cell phone calls.  But no more (I've even heard them during church services).  What is the most unlikely place you've heard a cell phone go off?


  1. I typed a whole long comment and it vanished.
    I really liked hearing your view of the garden show. I thought I had seen everything there, but find that I missed quite a bit, such as the Barbie gardens. :)
    I love the Carex too, I'm already looking for some places to add them in my yard.

  2. Grasses and sedges can give quite an impact. There is no limit to creativity in gardening and landscaping... ~bangchik

  3. I quite prefer to see others' photos and imagine having been there. The crowds, the lines, the cell phone drama? Not fun. But getting to see all the fabulous displays without putting up with all of that? Fantastic. I love those scenes with miniature figurines. Were those all real/dwarf plants?

  4. Hi Christine~~ You are a fabulous writer. I loved every word of your post and didn't want it to end! You're every bit as "reputable" as the others, so there.

    With two teenagers in residence, Lady Gaga is familiar to me although my girls aren't really excited about her music. "Poker Face" is a bit catchy, I'll admit. [I didn't get your hubby's joke at first. Good one!] You and I were probably gaga-garden-ladies before this interloper/singer? was born and I'm not sure I like her stealing our title.

    Interesting, the usage of Barbie and Ken. I tried to do one of those miniature gardens when my kids were small but it never looked like this one. I don't think I'm patient enough or talented enough.

    I LOVE those cafe chairs and everything else in this little display. I wasn't thinking of the smallness of the chair seat [probably should be, always] I was thinking of the metal supports bending and buckling. But then, gaga gardeners don't sit.

    Speaking of not sitting, do you think Cisco is the verve behind Sarah Palin? LOL

    You can make a hypertufa bubbler like the one in the photo. I did it using a five gallon bucket with a PVC pipe run through the center and a narrow inverted bowl on the bottom-center to leave space for the pump. Works too. My biggest issue was finding the catchment bowl. Food for thought.

    "Optical caffeine," I might need to borrow this one. "Eye candy" is becoming cliche.

    And finally, your blow by blow account of the outlandish cellphone user just made me laugh. Obviously she's NOT a gardener or she'd be more interested in the lecture and far less RUDE. Gardeners are good people. If she didn't want to turn it off, she could have at least put it on vibrate. What? She doesn't do voicemail? She probably texts while driving too then moprhs flawlessly into drama queen extraordinaire, crying hysterically when the cop pulls her over. I wonder if she's heard about Oprah's no-phone-in-the-car campaign. No phone in the lecture hall might be next.

  5. Lady Gaga! Too funny :) I want everything in these photos. This had better be the year I win the lottery! :D

  6. @Catherine@AGardenerinProgress
    The "comment vanishing" thing has happened to me on numerous occasions. Usually, I give up and don't leave one, so thanks for being persistant!

    I love my grasses and am hoping to try some more Carex this year, even though I seem to kill them off with regularity.

    A sharper person than myself might have picked up on whether the plants in the "doll" gardens were dwarf/miniature or not. I know this much...they were real.

    I never considered the ramifications of being a "gaga" gardener. I will have to ponder this topic further;)

    If Ciscoe's energy isn't behind Sarah P., then a energizer battery must be!

    If you win the lottery, be sure and do a post on all the garden goodies you pick up. I think it would be a fun idea for a post: what would you buy for the garden if you won the lottery...or something to that effect.


  7. Hi Christine,
    I photographed recently many tropical plants and trees in Samana, Dominican Rep.
    Hamelia patens or Firecracker Shrub is not suitable for your climate. Sorry..

    USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
    USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
    USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
    USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
    USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
    USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
    USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

    Over the next few weeks, I am posting more very interesting pictures and detailed information about all the tropical plants I found during my vacation.
    - Cheers Gisela.

  8. Very cool pics. You know, you can always find Elvis. jim

    Are you having problems with the Blotanical feed?

  9. @guild-rez
    Thanks for checking on that... can't say I'm suprised.

    Why yes, I am having trouble with blotanical. Is it just me?

    Thank you, thank you very much....

  10. Looks like it was a wonderful show...I'd be ga-ga too! I like all the little spaces...great ideas.
    I can't get on Blotanical either. boo!

  11. This looks like the perfect getaway for us frozen-in-ice sorts. I think I could swoon away a day or two there. :)

    Thanks for the great pics and commentary.

  12. I am mildly confused now....
    although it is delightful to see Ken and Barbie enjoying the outdoors-although Barbie's bright red hair does rather spoil her camouflage look - and their wedding looks charming but why are they there?
    Is there a whole class of miniature gardens? I assume so but then I started worrying whether your other pictures were full sized or teeny-weeny.
    I better go and lie down.
    Glad you had a good time.

  13. I'm enjoying reading your posts about the show. The photos have me drooling with envy and the prose is making me laugh. Good times ! I hope your grocery stores bring in some Primulas .

  14. @James A-S
    Everything was full sized. You're just losing your mind! I'm actually not sure what all the miniature garden business was about, but there were about three or four of them displayed on tabletops in the eating area. All jokes about good taste and appetite aside of course.

    I have no hope for grocery store Primulas. We're at least a month out, is my guess. At least they have daffs....


  15. Loved your 'take' on the show...I think you are the 6th post I've read on it. Your posts will be the closest I'll probably ever get to the SF F&G show:-) And, may actually BE better than being there!

  16. Your colorful post made my heart sing, Christine! Winter white is wearing thin :) I've added myself to your fan list so I won't miss a thing :)

  17. More GaGa Lady - GaGaGardening Lady! Check out if you get a chance - think you might dig it! Keep up the great work on your blog!

  18. Hi, I saw your comment on someone's blog about blotantical and came here to tell you to look at people's blog rolls if you want to find more garden blogs. I have over 100 in my sidebar. I do hope Stuart gets things up and running smoothly, but in the mean time, we still have ways to find each other.

    I enjoyed reading your post about the garden show. I can't think of an unusual place a phone has rung, but last night, on the Olympics, I noticed some of the snow boarders texting people. One finished up, put the phone in his pocket, attached to a loop of some kind to prevent it from losing it, and proceeded to go down the half pipe. That struck me as funny.

  19. Hi Christine, thanks for the green fix! I have worked a tortuous schedule at the hospital this week (fifteen hours yesterday!) with little time to blog. And blotanical is still down. I hope that it will soon be back to normal. Have you heard anything? I definitely am going to start my own blog roll. I joined blotanical soon after starting my blog and am really dependent on it. I found your post this morning and it brought a smile to my face. The turquoise display is so beautiful. It's one of my favorite colors, so I'm glad it's trendy! The cell phone episode is so familiar. I guess there will always be rude people, no matter what technology comes along. Stay warm in Alaska and have a good weekend.

  20. I'm glad you commented on my blog... so I found your blog. That looks like it was a great garden show. I love the containers! Those combos are pretty. Hope you find the book at the library.

  21. Thanks for visiting my blog....I don't know what I would do in your neck of the woods...we Californians are sooooo spoiled with plants. You are too funny, I think depending on the lecture, the cell phone drama might have been more entertaining. I had a woman(I almost called her lady)start veering into me off in her car the other day because she was texting, she didn't even know I was right next to her. I laid on my horn & did the universal hang up the phone gesture....I'm not sure she even understood. Love the pics, especially the turquoise!

  22. Another perspective on the NW Garden show! Love that big stone chair. I bet it would last forever but maybe a bit tough on the rump. Nothing a good cushion wouldn’t cure. I have recently heard of Lady GaGa. I found it funny as we use to call my grandmother Ga-Ga so when I hear the name, I have to smile. As for the cell phones, I think they are a nuisance just about everywhere I go now. I about died while in a public restroom and hearing someone answer their ringing cell. Had an entire conversation in the bathroom stall! I am not that connected to anyone that I need to chat while doing my private business! Some people geesh….Anyway, looks like you came home with lots of fun goodies from the show. Thanks for sharing….

  23. Hi Christine - I am going ga ga with desire for spring - I almost wrote with spring desire, but then I thought of the two squirrels that were going round and round on the tree yesterday. :)And, changed my phrase - loved the green! and thanks for commenting on my blog. G

  24. Longer lines at Disneyland means a GREAT garden show indeed! Either that or like you said all Alaskans really needed a touch of spring. Looks like you got it at the show. Ours is next month and always starts of the spring for us here. I had never heard of Lady GaGa either until Barbara Walters interviewed her and I tell you I was impressed! She is really smart and savvy-an interesting performer too. Nope, can't see her strolling the flower show but so nice you were able to! The truck is most cool!

  25. I love your outright admission that you attend for a green fix! I definitely understand.
    Is that turquoise kind of french? You'd have to ask Rob, but maybe. That would explain the skinny chair, too, since their addiction of choice is smoking instead of McDonald's.

  26. how great. It must have been so inspiring to attend. The colors are wonderful. I'm off to the philly flower show in a couple of weeks. Very excited.


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