The Plants of Union Way

The Plants of Union Way

Have you noticed a trend of stylish shops with stylish plants on display? I’m seeing a lot of good plants in new places, and I like it.

My stepfather was stationed in Germany when he was in the military, and always remembers coming across a sign which read “Grün ist Leben,” green is life. Indeed. We never really knew what the sign maker intended. I guess it could be interpreted as a drug reference, but we like to think it’s a gardening thing.

Recent Design Within Reach catalogs showed off their fancy pants furniture alongside big agaves and cacti. I’ve noticed agaves and yuccas and opuntia, oh my… in all kinds of fashion photography. It makes perfect sense to me. Plants should be a part of our lives. Grün ist Leben.

Birthday-season has kicked off in my world, and I have a gift giving occasion just about every weekend from now through the end of the year, making September-December one big holiday party blur. For reasons I can’t explain, not everyone wants plants as gifts, so I’m venturing outside of the nursery shopping I’d really rather be doing during this frickin’ perfect planting weather. Happily, plants are having a moment in stores of all kinds, so there’s still some garden-y inspiration to be found while wandering the aisles.

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Unexpected groundcovers

Unexpected groundcovers

Groundcovers are…

The icing on the cake?

The bow on the present?

The cherry on the sundae?

Whatever cliche fits best, they deserve some special attention. Last week I realized how important groundcovers are to pulling together a garden, and I’ve been looking for some good contenders ever since.

I’m sure we’ve all seen certain plants get overused as carpets in parking lot beds and in front of new homes as builders’ favorites, and those plants get crossed right off our lists. Lucky for us there is no end to new and unusual plants, which is why we garden, isn’t it?

For groundcovers to make the cut on this particular list, they had to meet some basic criteria:

  • – Be super cool or weird
  • – Have a long season of interest
  • – Don’t rely on flowers as the main attraction
  • – Be reasonably easy to grow
  • – Be frost hardy
  • Don’t be something I’ve seen a million times

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It’s showtime!

It’s showtime!

Showtime! Well, not quite yet, but it’s the time of the year I start thinking about them, the annual garden shows. How better to break the spell of winter?

NWFG 2013a

The 2013 Ravenna Gardens display at the NWFG Show. It was perfect and I wanted to take it home, all of it.

I’m lucky to live in region that really does garden shows, not some “home improvement” show where a couple of landscape companies are stuck in the corner and they promise to install the latest in hi-tech outdoor kitchens, fire bowls and water features (but nary a plant is mentioned). (more…)