Monday, August 26, 2013

Farwest 2013

The Farwest Show is an annual tradeshow put on by the Oregon Association of Nurseries. This is my 5th year at the show, and while I was thrilled to see many an engaged nursery owner taking plant orders (and lots of traffic all three days), the general feel I got at the show was everyone is playing it safe. I saw far less borderline hardy plants than in previous years and fewer succulents too.

However as is usually the case with these horticultural events it wasn’t so much the conference itself that I enjoyed (although walking around looking at plants and plant related products is never a bad thing) but the people who converge on Portland during the event. There are parties and impromptu gatherings, new people to meet and old connections to be revisited.

This year I had the pleasure of attending a couple of the morning seminars, the first was HortiCULTURE: The Gardening Revolution, by Kelly D. Norris. So many things clicked for me while listening to Kelly speak about the importance of gardening and finding the culture in horticulture. He was saying things out loud that I’d been thinking, if you have the chance to hear Kelly speak I urge you to go. Also, I’ll be on the lookout for his next book, tentatively titled Dig This: Stylish Gardening with Kickass Plants (damn I wish I would have thought of that title!!!).

The second seminar was Plantufacturing: How New Plants are Selected and Launched with Kelly again and the addition of Dan Heims. Near the beginning of the talk Dan shared his concept of the Botanical Clock (no, not to be confused with the biological clock), comparing the way plants go in and out of favor to times on the clock. At their height of popularity plants would be at 12:00 (Dan didn’t share if this was am or pm) and then they steadily fall down, down, down, until they bottom out (6:00) and then start to work their way back up to popularity again. Perhaps succulents are nearing 4:00? And in case you’re wondering Dan feels begonias are about to become very very big.

One of the displays I'm always sure to visit is the “New Varieties Showcase”…

If you’re interested in round up of all the entries click here, and if you’re curious Wild Swan™ Anemone won top honors in the showcase (no, I didn’t even take a photo of it!). Personally I was a big fan of the burlap tree, very Wizard of Oz...

Here’s what else I found interesting…

Liriodendron tulipifera 'Little Volunteer,’ a smaller version of the tulip tree, what’s not yo love about that?

This Brugmansia 'Little Angel' was gorgeous! ("Full-size white pendulous blooms on a compact plant make it well suited for containers"...says the marketing materials)

But really how could any of them compete when there was a Schefflera in their midst? Schefflera delavayi…

How exciting right? This should mean this much sought after plant will have better availability next year in the nursery biz (at least at those nurseries which order from T & L Nursery, the source for this plant in the showcase).

After voting for my favorites (we don’t yet know what the “people’s choice” award winner is…but you know what I voted for) I wandered and looked for things that caught my eye. This hybrid Gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle’ certainly did that. Click here for much better photos and a plant profile from Hank, the Plant Provocateur (whom I had the pleasure of meeting during the SF Garden Bloggers Fling).

As did this Rhamnus frangula ‘Asplenifolia’ (Fernleaf Buckthorn)…

Did you think that dark leafed number (below) was a small phormium? I did too. Nope…Crinum x Purple Dream

Of course I fell for its foliage but a little online hunting shows the flowers aren’t bad either. Here’s a photo and write up from that Kelly Norris character I mentioned earlier.

Another quasi phormium look-a-like! Dianella prunina Rainbow Twist…

I bought a tiny (4” container, maybe 3” tall) one from Garden World last spring but these were huge!

I fear I won’t be able to resist the pull of a cloud pruned conifer for much longer. I love them so…(I know I shouldn't, but I do!)

Oh and I LOVE this. It’s a hardy version of the dragon tree (Dracaena draco), if you don’t look too close! Okay, actually a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

I’m also drawn to the ornamental peach (Prunus persica 'Bonfire'), but oddly not the saguaro arborvitae.

Taiwanese Parasol Tree (Trochodendron aralioides) from Monrovia (above the Melianthus)…

Interestingly their booth only had one little Schefflera in it!

So even though this isn’t really a buying show (sure lots of orders are placed, but it’s not set up for retail monetary exchanges) I managed to purchase a couple of things. First at the Flora & Fauna booksellers booth.

The owner David is a (welcome) institution at the OAN shows, both Farwest and the Yard, Garden & Patio Show in the spring. Sadly I’ve never visited his store in Seattle but hope to make it there someday. He brought several boxes of used books this time around and I grabbed a handful.

The decorative one without it’s dust jacket is Garrett Eckbo’s Art of Home Landscaping published in 1956. When was the last time you saw one of these?

Of course there were a few plant purchases as well. If you’ve got cash in hand and are present when the show closes on Saturday you just might be able to walk away with a couple of treasures...

Mine included two of those Crinum x Purple Dream and a pair of the Dianella from Hines Growers, plus one of the Schefflera delavayi from the New Varieties Showcase (T & L Nurseries). No I didn’t “need” and another S. delavayi but it was an amazing (AMAZING) deal that I just couldn’t pass up. Surely you understand?

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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