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Monday, February 20, 2012

Portland Yard, Garden & Patio Show 2012

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Part of the annual ushering-in-of-spring ritual for many Portlanders is the Yard, Garden & Patio Show. I've gone almost every year since moving to Portland several years ago, and it has become a bit of a tradition for me to drag Norm along with me to the Convention Center.

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As you walk down the steps to the show's entrance, you are greeted with colorful banners, people handing out tote bags and...the unmistakeable smell of bark dust. Actually, the bark dust smell was not as bad as I remember it in years past. This could be, however, because the overpowering "cat-pee" smell of boxwoods practically brought tears to my eyes on numerous occasions. Note to designers for the show...it's an enclosed space...please put a limit on stanky plants!

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When you first enter the show, you are greeted with several display gardens, which ths year, were themed around certain regions of the world. The first one we went through was the Chinese-inpsired garden...and one of the better ones (IMHO). It was lovely...and indeed had a serene atmosphere, greatly aided by the large pond, which reflected the plants grown along it's banks. It was also one of the gardens that seemed more plant-focused and less about hardscaping theatrics.

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Hamamelis blooming in the Chinese Garden
One of my favorite winter-blooming shrubs, the Witch Hazels were well-represented at the show.

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EdgeworthiaPapyrus
Edgeworthias aren't my favorite shrubs...but this one did look lovely and graceful reflected in the pond. The Papyrus if from the next garden which, I guess, was Mediterranean-themed...I really should have paid more attention to the banners around the floor! I actually got a dirty look from Norm for reaching out and touching the Papyrus (I can't help it!), so I wanted to include a photo of someone else touching it as well...see, I'm not the only one obsessed with touching plants!

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This fabric-draped structure was certainly high on style...but I'm not sure how practical all that fabric would prove to be in all but the gentlest breezes.

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Again, so not my style...but Palms do make impressive specimens in situations like this, don't you think!

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In spite of myself, I rather liked these urn water-fountains...except the spouts looked like they were slathered with gold paint. I'd have preferred something a little more subtle...perhaps bronze or copper with a bit of patina?

fire  1259
I'm so old-fashioned...I do NOT get the appeal of random "Fire Pits" and features, and I do wonder, in Eco-Conscious Portland...is an open flame used purely for decoration really wise a use of resources?

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I think this garden, more than the others, exemplified the sort of "style-over-function" feeling of many of the display gardens. I know, I know...they are like window displays...not meant to be truly practical, but inspirational. Still...I'd like to take away a few ideas and inspiration from these gardens...not imagine how many people I would have to employ to maintain such a fussy, fastidious design.

bare garden  1256
Norm and I were both baffled by this "garden". It was almost entirely bare...most of the space was just gravel (and maybe some decomposed granite?). Where are the plants?!?

formal english garden  1255
I have to admit, I'm no fan of "formal" gardens, in general, but I found this to be one of the better display gardens. Even so, like most of the others, it felt more like a park...or a space to pass-through, rather than anywhere I'd imagine lingering.

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I DID like this fountain and cobblestones. Oh...to have room for such extravagance (not to mention the funds)!

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I've tried to grow Heathers several times and always kill them...so I'm resigned to admiring them in others' gardens. Love this patchwork of them...so lovely.

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If you want a water feature...this was the place for you...it definitely seemed like the favorite for most of the kids at the show!

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Of course, the big reason to go to the show is the vendors! Several area nurseries were in attendance selling green goodies to area gardeners. I have to admit, nothing really caught my eye this year...running out of space means being judicious about plant purchases!

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I was really intrigued by the urban beekeepers...and judging by the little crown around them, I wasn't alone!

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YUM...honeycombs on display!

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I've never understood what the fuss with Hellebores was all about...but these new colors might just bring me around :-)

cattails
My one purchase! Last year, I wanted to get some of these iron cattails, but the girl who sells them was SOLD OUT...argh! I have no idea where I'm going to put them...but I have all summer to figure that out, right?

Did any of you in the Portland area make it to the show...did you see anything good...did I miss anything amazing (it happens quite often)?

51 comments:

  1. I too was underwhelmed by the display gardens. There wasn't much to be inspired by. I attended the session on Japanese elements in the garden and found it really helpful. I love those iron cattails!

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    1. I know, right...it really is meant for a different demographic, I guess. Glad you enjoyed the lecture...hopefully I can attend one next year...fingers crossed :-)

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  2. I agree with you on the firepits. My husband keeps saying, "If it is cold enough to need a fire, go in". Really not with you on Edgeworthia, love the fragrance, love the bloom, love the leaves (all velvety) cool form. I want another.
    I think so many of these shows are so out of the relm of reality.

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    1. Hahahaha...totally...I just don't get who needs such things...seems like a waste of space...these shows are definitely aimed at those with more $$$ than I have.

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  3. I liked that the show was brighter this year than last year. And the green market vendors were GREAT, as was Cracked Pots, the HPSO tables, and the bee stuff. But there need to be hipper, groovier display gardens to draw the broader Portland demographic in. Anyone else really look at most of the attendees? Older and more conservative than most Portland residents. Nothing wrong with old -- it's just that there aren't enough younger folks. Cracked Pots and the edible garden areas help, but do not address the underlying problem of fuddy-duddiness. And the display gardens, which take up much of the space, are less than inspiring. The display gardens should be smaller, hipper, and contain more interesting plants. Better this year than last, admittedly, but it still isn't hitting the mark. The Seattle show always has some kick-ass container displays and there were those fabulous little vignettes in the breezeway between the show rooms that totally inspired ME, personally. But the YGP Show still feels a bit stuck in the past. Ban the bare bark dust edges, ban multi-colored primulas, and BAN cookie-cutter hardscaping wastelands with outdoor kitchens and firepits. (I beg forgiveness if this offends anyone but please, tell me I'm not the only one thinking these thoughts!)

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    1. That's actually a really good point, Kate, and one I forgot to mention...so glad it was as dark as it was in years past...I could actually SEE where I was going! It would be interesting to sit in on the meetings of those who really organize the show...I wonder if they focus on the younger generation at all...or if they sort of stick to what has worked in the past. I definitely feel the Portland DIY feel is missing, for the most part. I agree...there needs to be a concerted effort to really do things differently...it really can't hurt, can it...try something new...people get tire of the same old thing, year after year (I know I felt that way this year). You aren't alone...believe me.

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  4. Very nice. I LOVE those cattails. I have some made to display inside in one of my dry arrangements. Love them, they are so special. Years ago I had some real ones and sprayed them with something and they lasted many years. Hmm maybe I should do that again. :) The Heather was gorgeous. Man the PNW sure can grow fabulous plants.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Aren't they cool...I've been thinking of them all year! They are also a consolation, since I don't have room to grow the real thing...which would, of course, be even better!

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  5. Scott,

    I understand your feelings about the garden show. I am scheduled to go in March and just like last year I am sure it will not be something I can transport to my home but rather a vision of what trends are to come. I feel if we take one thing away that we can use in our own garden it is worth it.

    Eileen

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    1. That's a good point, and so true...there is almost always one thing I take away as inspiration...even if it's just a nugget of an idea that I adapt for my own use :-)

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  6. How can one not love hellebores?! I guess it probably helps that you live in a climate where you can grow other really early blooming plants but up in MN they're the ONLY thing that can even think of blooming before late march. As for fire pits, I don't understand those little useless decorative ones (which by the way, if you knock them over they have a napalm like effect, turns out the fuel is a gel that you'll have a hard time scraping off you) but I'm all for ones where you can have an actual fire. I love nothing more than a good bon fire out back in the fall.

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    1. I know, I know (he says sheepishly), I just never quite got the appeal...even if they are practically the only things blooming right now...I just never could get past their overall "drabness". The new colors are going a long way to converting me, however :-) The fire pits, however, I'll NEVER understand...gimme a bonfire anyday!

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  7. I attended the Wichita Garden Show 2 out of the last 4 years. My initial experience involved working and building a display garden. Those gardens put the Portland gardens show to shame. Unfortunately the garden show was discontinued after 44 years of existence. I suppose due to the economy and the $14.00 entry fee. I wish I would have had my "good" camera instead of a cell phone to show examples. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. Oh, to have seen those displays...maybe they could serve as inspiration for re-launching the show someday? $14 is pretty steep...I think it's $11 for the PDX one...which I think is kinda high already!

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  8. The Philly Flower Show is a BIG DEAL in the east. I went once, over 20 years ago, and was really bored. I hated all the fake gardens. I should really give it a chance. It may be exciting now, but gardens indoors in winter just aren't my thing. The one saving grace for Portland's looks like the plant sale. What was that plant with the long drooping racemes. Was it a Garrya (sp?)?

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    1. Good eye, James...It is indeed a Garrya! I have to agree...I guess it's my general dislike for all things "artificial" that really keeps me from enjoying the show more...it feels very forced, very contrived. Then again...they are recreating gardens inside a convention center...so what do I expect! I guess I just have a harder time than some accepting those limitations. Plus, as you know, i prefer a more naturalistic style...sto these over-manicured and heavily -ordered gardens just don't often appeal to me. The plant sale is actually pretty great...it is what keeps me going back, year after year.

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  9. I really liked seeing what the garden show was like there. The theme here was music and it was hard to see it in most of the displays. I like the idea of the gardens inspired by other parts of the world.
    Love the cattails. I frequently by things for my garden with no idea of where they will go.

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    1. I remember seeing that on your blog, Catherine...and it does seem like that would be a stretch for the designers...maybe it's best to avoid being to literal and just try to create a knock-out garden! Those themes always seem like they limit creativity, rather than spur it on. Glad to know I'm not alone in my un-planned purchases!

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  10. Scott, you stopped at the golden spouts... didn't you notice those amazing stone pools below?? This post of yours made me remember that they are starting with the gardening shows this time of the year. There are some interesting things but mostly I think there are freaks...
    What about that chessboard-like lawn? You can give the grass to cut to Norm he would be glad.

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    1. Hahahaha...it would be hard to miss them, Alberto! You are so right...there are always some good nuggets of inspiration in the displays, but for the most part...just miss the mark by a bit :-) OMG...I think if I tried to make Norm work on that checkerboard lawn he'd run away for good!

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  11. Thanks for sharing these photos Scott. I'm always fascinated with what goes on in garden shows in other parts of the globe, more so in areas with weather similar to ours. I never get tired of looking at garden show photos!

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    1. Glad you liked the little virtual tour! I agree...it's always fun going...and even though I may come off slightly pessimistic about them at times, I always look forward to going. I would love to go to some other shows around the country...sigh...somday :-)

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  12. Wow...that is quite the garden show. Looks like you had a fun time. I really like the papyrus!! I am beginning to like some of the structure of the formal gardens.I would not want one...but I might add a few boxwoods in tall containers this spring. :)
    Looking forward to seeing your garden this spring.

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    1. OMG...I LOVE the Papyrus...I've been secretly trying to figure out a way to fit some in my garden (no luck yet)! I've seen box ball used to great effect in some gardens. I'm thinking the last issue (or maybe the issue just before) of Gardens Illustrated...really striking!

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  13. I'm impressed. The whole show is devoted to gardens! Here, the big shows are "Home and Garden" shows, and have too many "as seen on TV" types of home vendors. ShamWow anyone? The "garden" parts of these shows are just a token homage to the event name.
    The one show that is different is the Festival of Flowers in May. It's 100% gardens, but it is much more of a grassroots production and nothing compared to the tour you took us on.

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    1. Oh yeah, Abbey...we have those shows too! Next weekend, in fact, is the Home & Garden show, which is mostly mops, windows and gutters. I went one time...that was enough ;-) I love the idea of a more grassroots show...that sounds right up my alley...I hope you post on it...I'd love to see what it looks like!

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  14. I like your cattails Scott! Seems like now the shows are geared up for heavy on the hard-scaping and little on flowers. I can understand that that is where the money is these days for them with all of the big box stores selling cheaper flowers but I miss the flowers at the shows.They are getting more like HGTV anymore all landscape and no garden. The water features are pretty and I love water in the garden but there again it is hard-scaping with little floral to soften it up. Our Home and Garden Show starts this weekend and I am afraid it will have less flowers than last year.
    I loved looking at your photographs of the highlights of the show.

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    1. You are so right, Lona...I think these shows are really geared toward what has the biggest profit for the companies. Honestly, I can't blame them...they are the ones putting on the shows. Still...I long for something a bit more "plant-centric". I guess that's what the HPSO plant sales are for...THOSE are the highlight of the gardening year for me! I hope you post photos of your H&G Show...will be interesting to see how they do it!

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  15. Photo of heather is beautiful and I've never been able to grow them either...Hellebores? Come on now...they are pretty cool, being that beautiful in the winter months but usually their price tag is not so cool. :) I agree about display gardens it would be nice to have some of them based on practical ideas relating to plants and possibly space instead of most everything being "inspiring." Cattails look fun and I'm glad you found something you really wanted!

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    1. Glad to know I'm not alone in my inability to grow Heathers! I know...I don't really know what it is with me and Hellebores...sigh. Who know...maybe the show organizers will somehow take heed of what all of us gardeners are saying and change things up a bit someday ;-)

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  16. Tell Norm I touched the Papyrus too! How could you not?

    You described a couple of the gardens very well when you said they were more like a park or a pass through than a place to linger. And the fire pits? Oh god...I so don't get them (and I'm restraining my myself from going on a rant about wood smoke in an urban setting).

    You're amassing quite the collection of rusty garden spikes (assuming your Allium spikes have rusted), I like the cattails and don't remember seeing them. I can't believe you weren't tempted by even one plant!? You are a man of strong will. Or maybe your just leaving a spot for the perfect Manzanita when you find it?

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    1. Ha! Good to know...I knew that any plant-lover worth his (or her) salt wouldn't be able to resist it! Let's all just agree to stop the fire pit insanity! Oh yeah...love the rust spikes...and you know what...that Manzanita at Dancing Oaks was the one plant I was tempted by...but upon a quick internet search, realized it wasn't quite right for my space...the search continues!

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  17. I so agree about the feel of the display gardens as open spaces for passing through. It seemed the main idea was to feature paving solutions of every kind. What I did like about the paved exterior was the way it tied all the gardens together in the theme. But I would have liked way more actual plants in smaller areas, combined in inspiring ways. I found a good number of plants I wanted to buy at the Green Marketplace, though - many more than the Seattle NWFGS, in fact. And I loved that the Marketplace plants were billed as suitable for PNW, Portland-area gardens: nothing is more depressing that seeing zone 9 or 10 plants being sold to unsuspecting customers (as at NWFGS.) Your cattails are fabulous...you'll easily find the perfect place for them and they make great winter accents in the garden too!

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    1. Hahaha...you're so right...the hardscaping was really the star of the show. You are so right about the marketplace...it really is wonderful...and I love that they focus on plants that will grow well here...I feel so sad when I see people excitedly clasping some plant I KNOW won't make it through our winter...there is no quicker way to discourage people from gardening than to sell them a plant that is practically guaranteed to fail!

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  18. Didn't make it, but I knew I could rely on you and Loree to provide a good overview with stunning photos.

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    1. Sorry you couldn't make it to the show...but glad we could give you a taste of what happened :-)

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  19. Love those iron cattails! I guess the gravel garden is for those that want low maintenance! ;)

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  20. I had to laugh when I read about the boxwoods. I hate them for that very reason. Lol

    I'm not crazy about Edgeworthia either but the one you pictured did look very nice, especially reflected as it was in the water.

    I think those urn fountains are appealing too, and the heathers look fantastic.

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    1. They are REALLY overpowering in a small space like that...I constantly kept checking to make sure it wasn't ME that smelled like that!

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    1. Me too...and the smoky, slatey blue/purple is even better!

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  22. Interesting show ...Don't care for the gardens much You could play chess on one and the bare garden, where is it? never mind, love the hellebores and the ironcattails. I'm sure you could find a space for both.

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    1. Hahaha...seriously! Oh yeah...I'll find room ;-)

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  23. Tell Norm that plants are for touching!

    I mentioned on Loree's blog that I love that Edgeworthia. I'm not sure they will grow here but I think I may look into it.

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    1. Hahahahaha...I know, right! I honestly don't know for sure if the Edgeworthia would grow there...but I'm guessing it would probably be ok...and hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right ;-)

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  24. Display gardens don't offend me--I think of them as plant arrangements, or theatrical sets--gardens they are obviously not. They are difficult to do, expensive, and a lot of hard work, so I respect that, successful or not. Thanks for sharing photos. It's great to see a garden show at all. We don't have much of one here.

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  25. I'm with Tom on the hellebores. Fabulous to see them blooming so early, a first taste of the garden season ahead. Maybe you need more snow to appreciate them. I could send you some...

    I like your philosophy on the cattails. Buy now, find a spot later. There's sure to be a perfect spot for those cuties.

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  26. Since the bigger shows seem aimed at drawing in the general public, I hope the GP is pleased and spends lots of $ to support the vendors and designers. Love the cattails!

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  27. Southerners don't have extravagant garden shows like these, probably because we are not winter-garden-deprived, so it's interesting and kind of strange to see pics from them. They do seem very artificial, but how could they not in an indoor arena? At any rate, I do love the iron cattails you bought. Great choice for your grassy garden!

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