I found a quiet corner at the Convention Center to post some photos for you- just finished judging gardens for Pacific Horticulture magazine late this afternoon, along with teammates Keith Geller and Ray Larson...what a treat to see the freshly-finished gardens ready for debut. And there are some really good gardens this year....
But, first, two gripes....where's the food? And I don't mean snacks (one garden does have a popcorn machine, which is part of gripe #2). Espaliered fruit trees and some wilted lettuces do not a food garden make. I searched in vain for kitchen gardens, a potager or two, even some edibles in pots. Nope. What a miss.
Okay - gripe 2. Enough with the theme thing. The Silver Screen theme, chosen for the show's 25th anniversary, brought out great creativity in some designers, but many took it too literally (hence the dead body of a woman in one garden, bloody knife nearby...it's too much like the news! And the popcorn machine in another...).Please note - neither of the winningest gardens (below) interpreted the movie theme literally, although they were inspired by it.
You know how every year there's one plant that shows up in every garden? Years ago the gardens were thick with witch hazel; more recently, edgeworthia reigned. This year's zeitgeist of a plant is Fritillaria meleagris (a.k.a. snakeshead or checkered lily). I challenge you to find a garden that doesn't contain this wispy little beauty - and it turns out it's also in my Thursday morning talk (11:30 a.m. in the Rainier Room).
Every garden is an achievement...and there are great pleasures and lessons here. You walk past sumptous arrangements as you come into the display hall, like this wedding cake of a flower pile up (left).
Be sure and check out Ravenna Garden's container garden on the skybridge - it has an old typewriter, books, and several great pots, including the one below:
The Arboretum Foundation's garden won the Pacific Horticulture and Sunset magazine awards, and rightly so - it's a work of art as well as a garden scene, a clever depiction of a hobbit hut set into a New Zealand plant palette. The round blue door, the thickly planted roof, the hillside topography into which the hut is snuggled, the hobbit's mailbox and several bubbling hot springs....let alone the phormium, ferns and hebes...it's a fabulous garden that'll appeal to adults every bit as much as kids.
And the cool plant garden took the Founder's Cup - "The Lost Gardener" is by Riz Reyes, a F&G Show first-timer...congratulatons... How many years has it been since there's been a real plant collector's garden? This one is all about unusual and rare plants, used extravagantly to create a jungle of a garden. How good Riz was rewarded with the big prize for being daring with his plant choices...hopefully the win will inspire more plant-centric gardens in future...