Gardening where the sidewalk ends

The “It” Trees of the Garden Show February 4, 2010

Filed under: garden shows,trees — greenwalks @ 10:19 pm
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I took so many pictures at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show today, I’m not sure where to start. I’ll try to do a few posts, grouping some of my favorites thematically. Since I’ve been thinking and posting a lot about trees lately, that seems as good a place to start as any.

Every year at the show, there seem to be a few plants that repeat in many of the show gardens. Is it like the Paris or Milan high-fashion collections, where one year everyone seems to have agreed on miniskirts and the next on military coats? I have no experience in the world of show garden design, so it is a mystery to me how certain things seem to flow in common through many of the designers’ final products.

I always feel sorry for these trees, some of them pretty mature, ripped out of their natural habitats and shoved into some sawdust in an an artificial indoor landscape so that a few (thousand) of us can ooh and ah over them over a four-day period. What happens to them afterward? Are they consigned to the compost heap? I hope not! Maybe they are specially cared for and replanted in some special spot, their moment in the spotlight over but a long and happy life ahead.

This year, these were the trees that seemed to be everywhere, the stars of the show. How many will end up being planted in attendees’ gardens, I wonder?

River birch, the hands-down winner for unusually beautiful bark

River birch bark

Witch hazel, here hovering over black mondo grass

Witch hazel and black mondo grass

Contorted filbert – this one was pruned into an “up-do”

Contorted filbert

Tree fern – okay, technically not a tree, but they were all over the place! Hard to grow in the Pacific Northwest, even with a lot of wrapping and care, from what I’ve heard.

Tree fern

Magnolia grandiflora, this one was the cultivar ‘Southern Charm’

Magnolia grandiflora 'Southern Charm'

Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ – this one really surprised me, showing up as it did in at least three gardens that I saw. It is a rare and expensive tree (for more about it, see this post from last year’s Garden show), and I bet it’s going on a lot of people’s wish lists after this week.

Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph'

A few other trees stood out for their uniqueness instead of their ubiquity:

Asian pear

Asian pear

Weeping Norway spruce (known in my family as the Snuffleupagus Tree)

Weeping Norway spruce

Unknown Japanese maple

Japanese maple

Cypressus macrocarpa ‘Saligna aurea’ had amazing, filigreed golden tendrils

Cypressus macrocarpa 'Saligna aurea'

Not all of the trees at the show were real:

Metal tree sculpture

Constructed tree "hideaway"

Weathered tree sculpture

Whimsical "tree" sculpture

BTW, we did get in to hear Fergus Garrett’s lecture on training the eye to make good plant combinations. Inspiring and well worth all the standing around and being herded like ruminants that was required to secure a seat.

More to come…


12 Responses to “The “It” Trees of the Garden Show”

  1. Megan Says:

    How can we resist the tree ferns though? They’re so beautiful. I have found someone this year that overwintered theirs beautifully in a cold frame and planted next to the house, so there’s still hope that there’s an easy-ish way to make them work. I notice in home magazines, tree ferns make an appearance in a number of garden shots. I think they’re one of those essentials stylists carry around, that you can plunk in anywhere, and they make the scene. I quite like the huge tree stump. It’s beautiful, and I’m guessing you don’t see those showing up as a trend just yet.

  2. gardeningasylum Says:

    Thanks for all the great photos! Glad you got to see Fergus despite being herded! Especially enjoyed the river birch bark – so full of character…

  3. Amanda Says:

    Thanks for sharing your great photos! I’m going today, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for these trees.

  4. tina Says:

    Awesome trees. Even the glass one? I can’t wait until our show which is in a few weeks. Great shots of all the neat plants.

    P.S. Got your card. Thanks. So glad you enjoy it!

  5. Jen Says:

    Definitely lots of oohing and ahhing going on here right now! I think my favorite is that weeping spruce, but they’re all so unique. The color of that Chief Joseph! Don’t feel too sorry for the poor dears – they might be enjoying all the attention!

  6. Hi Karen, great photos! I went too, the first day, and listened to Fergus. He is such a symphatetic person, so talented. Yesterday, my girls got a cold, and as my husband is far away for the moment, I couldn’t go… I so wanted to see the plant combination talk by Fergus too. Hopefully I can get to the sagbutt meeting in February, though. Have great weekend, Liisa.

  7. I spied a few Flax in those shots too! Did you see a lot of it still? I really want the metal tree!!! And so glad you got into hear Fergus. All the talk of tickets and lines makes me happy to be in Portland where we can just walk right in and set down to listen to our speakers. Sometimes I guess it pays to be in the little town! Can’t wait for your next post!

  8. Deirdre Says:

    You need to go to Sky Nurserry and see the curly willow ‘Scarlet Curls’. It’s fabulous.

    I’ve always called the weeping sequoia a snufilupigus tree.

  9. “herded like ruminants…” what a whimsical turn of phrase.
    Never have I seen anything to compare with the bark on that birch.
    I ordered a ‘Chief Joseph’ some time ago. Does that mean that I am prescient re. trends? Probably not. Besides, if and when it ever arrives, it will probably be passe.
    Closing with the phantasmagorical glass tree is a nice touch.

  10. Catherine Says:

    I always wonder about those big trees too. I hope they get planted in a nice place after. I love the bark of the river birch.
    The metal tree is so cool, it would be fun to have the space to have a piece of garden art like that.

  11. Grace Says:

    Hi Karen~~ Nice photos. I’m pretty sure my tree fern is a gonner. The first night of the December chill I left it outside. The next day I quickly brought it in but I think it was already too late. I’m starting to reconsider growing marginally frost hardy plants. It’s a disappointment when they die.

    The first photo of the bark is just outstanding. It seems like every color in the rainbow is represented.

    Some of that garden art is, well, um, interesting. LOL

  12. Christine B. Says:

    I like comparing the different perspectives of attendees who have posted their pictures. You certainly got some great tree shots. I tried to get a good one of the birch as well, but mine didn’t turn out so good! The lines for some of the presentations were tiresome, but most of the talks I attended were sensational. Or maybe I am so starved for green that I didn’t notice what was said and just watched the slide show (loved Val Easton’s slides).

    Christine in Alaska

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