Judgmental for a day!

It is garden show season, and through some unexpected turns of events, I ended up being one of the judges of this year’s Yard, Garden, and Patio Show at the Portland Convention Center. (Thank you, William!) I always try to attend this show anyway, but this privilege made it even more fun than it usually is. For one thing, I got to walk through the show before it opened, clipboard and pen in hand, and my analytical hat on.

IMG_8074Normally, I cruise right by the stuff that doesn’t interest me. This time, being forced to look at it all critically, made me really wonder why on earth some people bother. I’m not sure what the charge per square foot is, but surely – if you invest the money – you’d think that a little time and creative thought would be a wise move, supportive of that investment. Here I was, with a list in hand that told me in which isle I was supposed to find the booth of ‘X’, and several times found myself – completely befuddled – standing in the isle, not able to find the booth in question – they were so unassuming. I imagine the last thing you want to be at an event like this, is unassuming. If it were me, I would try to be as noticeable as possible. Some booths weren’t even marked! Bear in mind – this was less than an hour before the show opened. The great majority fell in the “Needs work” category, but thankfully, there were a few highlights.

My category was Structures and Furniture, and the four criteria within each category were; 1) Uniqueness, 2) Creativity, 3) Flow, and 4) Clarity in representation. Sad to say, with very few exceptions, the Creativity in furniture was truly lacking at this show. Seriously – how many clunky wooden slides does the world really need? Good grief… I think I counted three vendors that offered the exact same thing. If there were indeed differences, they were not easily discerned.

Fun faces carved out of bamboo.

Fun faces carved out of bamboo in the Bamboo Craftsman Co.’s booth.

They were one of the few companies that recieved a rather high ranking  from me.

They were one of the few companies that got a rather high ranking from me. Once I and my fellow judges tallied up our numbers, they were only two points away from grabbing the gold.

I remember these fun "plants" from the Seattle show a couple of weeks ago. So fun...

I remember these fun “plants” from the Seattle show a couple of weeks ago. So fun…

Last year, I suggested the company I work for use these concrete "wooden" planks in our display for a show we took part in - unfortunately to no avail. Too bad. After this year's YGP show, they are no longer a novelty - they were EVERYWHERE! I still think they are super-cool, but alas - by now they are well on their way to becoming mainstream.  Even so, check them out here at Roxblock's website.

Last year, I suggested the company I work for use these concrete “wooden” planks in our display for a show we took part in – unfortunately to no avail. Too bad. After this year’s YGP show, they are no longer a novelty – they were EVERYWHERE! I still think they are super-cool, but alas – by now they are well on their way to becoming mainstream. Even so, check them out here at Roxblock’s website.

Oh well, with the judging behind us, I met up with my friend Laura, and we explored the show together.

Here she is - suitably in the Urban Edible Garden. Laura is the food and garden writer for The Columbian newspaper, so visiting this garden was a must!

Here she is – suitably in the Urban Edible Garden. Laura is the food and garden writer for The Columbian newspaper, so visiting this garden was a must!

I like how the lights of the convention center ceiling are reflected in the pool. I also like that at the YGP - as opposed to at Seattle's NWFGS - you are invited to walk through the display gardens. It makes a big difference in how you perceive them.

I like how the lights of the convention center ceiling are reflected in the pool. I also like that at the YGP – as opposed to at Seattle’s NWFGS – you are invited to walk through the display gardens. It really does make a big difference in how you perceive them.

IMG_8089

The boiling waters of this pool made me feel the dread of a lobster, destined for the dinner table.

The boiling waters of this pool made me feel the dread of a lobster, destined for the dinner table.

Case in point that designers often don't know much about retail. A tiny little step down - which in your garden might define space, or navigate topographical changes, and eventually become second nature to you - will become an instant trip hazard in a retail environment. Hopefully the makers of this display will remember that next year.

Case in point that designers often don’t know much about retail. A tiny little step down – which in your garden might define space or navigate topographical changes, and will soon become second nature to you – will become an instant trip hazard in a retail environment. I understand the reasoning behind putting the step in, but having to put that signed ramp there totally defeated the purpose of design swaggery.

I liked the orange wall in this display, even though I thought it ended a little prematurely.

I liked the orange wall in this display, even though I thought it ended just a little bit prematurely.

IMG_8113

The ‘Cousin Itt” plant (in the foreground) and the Edgeworthia (blooming in the background) were both abundantly represented this year. Through the forces of marketing, it seems both of them have now hit Main Street – both here and in Seattle. Edgeworthia has been one of those somewhat hard to find shrubs for years (meaning you’d have to go to specialty nurseries to find them). Based on its popularity at the two shows I’ve visited this year, it has either gone mainstream, or designers have decided to showcase the fare of the smaller, specialty growers. (I hope it is the latter one – there are so many small and unique growers out there that are worthy of our continuing patronage.) The Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt” is a relatively new plant. It was developed from a chance seedling in Australia in 2000, and arrived in the US in 2010. This year seems to be its coming-out year. It’s a great plant, but I’m pretty sure I killed mine this winter. I dug it up and brought it inside when we had our Arctic spike in November, (it’s only hardy to 15*F) and subsequently forgot to water it.  Damn! I’m going to give it a chance to resprout outside, but I’m almost sure it’s a gonner… 😦

I liked the giraffes!

I liked the giraffes!

Check out that massive light fixture!

Check out that massive light fixture!

IMG_8123

I liked the texture of the reed ceiling, even if it isn't the most durable of choices. Looks good while it lasts, though.

I liked the texture of the reed ceiling, even if it isn’t the most durable of choices. Looks good while it lasts, though.

Weathered steel planters - actually weathered steel in general - were in vogue throughout the show. Here nicely contrasted with Pittosporum 'Marjory Channon' (I think).

Weathered steel planters – actually weathered steel in general – were in vogue throughout the show. Here nicely contrasted with Pittosporum ‘Marjory Channon’ (I think).

I love the effect of the drips trickling down the surface. I bet you they just took a spray bottle with salt water to get it to rust this way for the show. Once outside, though, it will soon even out to a nice, even rusty texture - unless you seal it, of course.

I love the effect of the drips trickling down the surface. I bet you they just took a spray bottle with salt water to get it to rust this way for the show. Once outside, though, material like this will soon even out to a nice, even rusty texture – unless you seal it, of course. But for an event like this, it’s stellar! Rusty steel is most definitely the rage.If you are interested, you can read more about it here.

A more free-form rusty creation - love it!

A more free-form rusty creation – like an octopus tentacle reaching outl Love it!

I liked the elegant simplicity of this rebar screen. Nice!

I liked the elegant simplicity of this rebar screen. Nice!

Here more rebar was used to keep show visitors out of trouble. Or perhaps the intent was aesthetic? I like the visual effect, but I have to wonder if it was born out of looks, or the need for idiot-proofing.

Here more rebar was used to keep show visitors out of trouble. Or perhaps the intent was aesthetic? I like the visual effect, but I have to wonder if it was born out of looks, or the need for idiot-proofing.

IMG_8125

More metal, different finish. A loner among plenty of garden variety Cranes of more literal interpretation, I really thought this more abstract bird form was lovely. The planting surrounding it, with Midwinter fire dogwood, our native sword ferns and Calla lilies only added to its charm.

The portal into the Bamboo Garden's display booth had these really elegant cut-outs which I thought manifested a very creative use of bamboo to its fullest potential. I'm storing that one away in the memory bank, for sure.

The portal into the Bamboo Garden’s display booth had these really elegant cut-outs which I thought manifested a very creative use of bamboo to its fullest potential. I’m storing that one away in the memory bank, for sure.

I can't get enough of these little Fritillarias - here surrounded by moss, and juxtaposed with unfurling glass ferns.

I can never get enough of these little Fritillarias – here surrounded by moss, and juxtaposed with unfurling glass ferns.

Both at NWFGS and here at the YGP, contorted branches were in vogue.

Both at NWFGS and here at the YGP, contorted branches were the rage.

There were many ways of displaying plants at the YGP. Here is a perennial favorite of mine - a wall mounted stag horn fern. Sigh...

There were many ways of displaying plants at the YGP. Here is a perennial favorite of mine – a wall mounted stag horn fern. Sigh…

Loved these orange pots!

Loved these orange pots!

Vertical, felted pockets filled with - among other things - Carex 'Frosted Curls'.

Vertical, felted pockets filled with – among lovelies – Carex ‘Frosted Curls’.

Stock tanks, of course...

Stock tanks, filled with bulbs and edibles, mulched with hazelnut shells. How very Oregonian!

I liked the spotty texture of this pot a lot.

I liked the spotty texture of this pot a lot.

Dennis 7 Dees had a lovely greenhouse as part of their plant display.

Dennis 7 Dees had a lovely greenhouse as part of their plant display.

Outside of it, a collection of white vases, each sporting a single Billy Ball - or Craspedia. Simple and stunning!

Outside of it, a collection of white vases, each sporting a single Billy Ball – or Craspedia. Simple and stunning!

A demonstration of how to make moss balls.

A demonstration of how to make moss balls.

You can make it with just about any small plant. This one made with a Polygala caught my eye.

You can make it with just about any small plant. This one made with a Polygala caught my eye.

Here are a few of them hanging outside of that lovely greenhouse.

Here are a few of them hanging outside of that wonderful greenhouse. I loved how the old windows were simply hung by chains.

One display that I hadn't expected was an organization that took care of rescued animals until they can be released back into the wild. I snapped some photos, but seeing caged animals - for whatever reason - always makes me sad, so I didn't stay long.

One display that I hadn’t expected was an organization that took care of rescued animals until they can be released back into the wild. I snapped some photos, but seeing caged animals – for whatever reason – always makes me sad, so I didn’t stay long.

This lion cub looks happy enough, I guess...

This lion cub looks happy enough, I guess…

... as does this one (whose name I have forgotten), happily munching away.

… as does this one (whose name I have forgotten), happily munching away.

After Laura left, I spent most of the remaining afternoon listening to a few of the many talks offered throughout the day. Here is Riz Reyes talking about arranging flowers, and demonstrating how he does it. "Think of it as planting a garden", he said.

After Laura left, I spent most of the remaining afternoon listening to a few of the many talks offered throughout the day. Here is Riz Reyes talking about arranging flowers, and demonstrating how he does it. “Think of it as planting a garden”, he said.

Seriously, this guy has a MASSIVE talent!

Seriously, this guy has a MASSIVE talent!

A close-up.

A close-up.

Last but not least, I always enjoy the winter blooming setup by the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. Their shallow bowl filled with Hellebores blows me away every time.

Last but not least, I always enjoy the winter blooming setup by the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. Their shallow bowl filled with Hellebores blows me away every time.

This white-blooming Pieris made me want one. What an abundance of blooms!

This white-blooming Pieris made me want one. Yes, really…. I’m not kidding. What an abundance of blooms!

This Magnolia bloom isn't bad either. In my next life, I'm going to have a white garden, and all of these will be in it.

This Magnolia bloom isn’t bad either. In my next life, I’m going to have a white garden, and all of these will be in it.

Next to the HPSO display was the Remarkable Green Market, where specialty nurseries from the area set up shop with all kinds of goodies. The range of color of these Coprosmas from N & M nursery was fantastic.

Next to the HPSO display was the Remarkable Green Market, where specialty nurseries from the area set up shop with all kinds of goodies. The range of colors of these Coprosmas from N & M Herb Nursery was fantastic.

I SO have a soft spot for the red eyes of Euphorbia Tiny Tim.

I SO have a soft spot for the red eyes of Euphorbia Tiny Tim.

So, did I buy anything? you ask... Yes, dammit, I did! I was trying so hard to be good - to no avail. It is obvious I lack all self control in these situations... These beauties came home with me: A black Pittosporum I had never seen before, a red Abutilon I have lusted over ever since we visited Shayne Chandler's garden in September 2013, a black Colocasia, a variegated Aspidistra (I have wanted one for a long time), a Nandina filamentosa, and a red hibiscus with black foliage called 'Midnight Marvel'. Pretty awesome haul, huh? Have you bought any plants yet this year?

So, did I buy anything? you ask… Yes, dammit, I did! I was trying so hard to be good – to no avail. It is obvious I lack all self control in these situations… These beauties came home with me: A black Pittosporum I had never seen before, a red Abutilon I have lusted over ever since we visited Shayne Chandler’s garden in September 2013, a jet-black Colocasia, a variegated Aspidistra (I have wanted one for a long time), a Nandina filamentosa, and a red hibiscus with black foliage called ‘Midnight Marvel’. Pretty awesome haul, huh? Have you bought any plants yet this year?

About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Judgmental for a day!

  1. mattb325 says:

    Wow – the show looks great, so many photos and so much to see! I have to shake my head about the ‘mind your step sign’ and hasty OHS construction techniques…as for the acacia cousin it, they are tough, but they can be notoriously tricky to get established. I think the 15F is a bit misleading – I can’t grow them here, either as they seem to dislike prolonged temperatures below 32F, so while it might live through a frosty 15F morning, if the day doesn’t warm up, then it’s lights out!
    PS: I love the plant choices, and commend you on your restraint!

    • annamadeit says:

      Restraint? Haha – you’re funny, but thanks all the same. Good to know about Cousin Itt. I will keep trying – it offers such a phenomenal texture – but I know now that they are neither as cold hardy nor as drought tolerant as they are being sold as. I guess they’ll have to go in the ‘Annual” category. 🙂

  2. Nell Jean says:

    Thank you for a grand preview of the Garden Show. I have to view from 3000 miles away through the eyes of those who attend, so every photo is special for me.

  3. Alison says:

    I nearly bought that red Abutilon too, twice. Once at the s how and then again at Cistus later in the day. I resisted both times. Is that dark-leaved Pittosporum the one that has bright green new growth? It makes such a nice contrast. I don’t even remember seeing those giraffes, were they in one of the display gardens? I got almost the exact same Polygala moss ball photo.

    • annamadeit says:

      I admire you for resisting – I really do have an addiction problem. I don’t know what the color of the new growth is – it would be cool if it was bright green! The giraffes were in one of the gardens (I think in the one with the orange wall). Fun, aren’t they? 🙂 Sorry I missed you – it would have been fun to see you.

  4. At least you had a reason to be judgmental, I was just for the fun of it! We picked out a lot of the same things. The reed ceiling, that you liked the texture of? He said it was actually done under metal, so it does just add a warm texture to the human side, while it’s protected from the elements on the sky-facing side.

    I was happy to see an image of that lion cub up. Both times I walked by that part of the show he/she was stretched out on the floor panting and looking horribly stressed. Poor thing.

    I wish I would have thought to attend the demonstration by Riz!

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh good – I was hoping it was covered! I really liked the warm effect it had. Yeah, I always feel like a horrible specie when I and others gather round to gawk at something that beautiful in a cage… Makes my stomach turn… Watching Riz was fun, even though I missed the first half. Fun to listen to, and marvelous to watch. Be sure to catch him next time! 🙂

  5. Kris P says:

    Great photos! It looks like a pretty good show, despite the concerns you addressed at the top of the post. I love that Medusa-like wooden sun. You did well in the plant department too! I just saw a dark Pittosporum on another blog so seeing your purchase makes me hopeful I’ll find the same cultivar here one day.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks! I have to tell you, that I’m getting more and more intrigued by the genus Pittosporum. It seems to contain so many fabulous plants, and I want to explore them all. Unfortunately, this one isn’t hardy, so it will have to live in a pot. Can’t remember which variety it is, but I will check when I get home. Stand by…

  6. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I always enjoy the Portland show for it’s great plant offerings and mellow vibe. You got some great shots of the show and took home an impressive haul. I’m totally in love with that variegated Aspidistra! I’ve heard that the better the soil, the less variegation. I’m going to experiment with two of them and see if it’s true. Glad you got to be judgmental for a day. We had a fun day at the show on Saturday & you saw some things that I missed.

    • annamadeit says:

      Sorry I missed you and Alison – it would have been fun to see you! Bummer about the Aspidistra thriving in poor soils. The spot I have in mind for it is built up, and has almost pure compost. But now I’ll know what’s wrong if it turns all green. Please keep me posted on our experiment. 🙂

  7. I never go to these events so seeing photos really is a treat. My favorite is the 7 Dee’s greenhouse. Riz is so talented and such a cutie pie. Fun post.

    • annamadeit says:

      Glad you enjoyed! The 7 Dees green house was beautiful – I totally agree – and Riz is amazing! I only heard of him a couple of weeks ago up in Seattle. Turns out, one of my favorite spaces from the NWFGS was the one he made. I didn’t find out until afterwards, so I was thrilled to have a chance to see him in person. 🙂

  8. rickii says:

    I started kicking myself for missing the Riz seminar as soon as I saw those arrangements outside the hall. I’ll know better next time.

  9. It was so much fun exploring the show with you! I really wish that I had attended Riz’s workshop.

  10. hb says:

    Thank you for all the great photos and comments. We don’t have much of a garden show here so you satisfied my craving for a visit. Yes, Mr. Riz has massive talent!

    • annamadeit says:

      Anytime, Gail! Yeah, one of my favorite vignettes up at the Seattle garden show was actually Riz’s – except I didn’t know it at the time. I’m a definite fan now!

  11. Pingback: Wednesday Vignette – Harbinger of Spring! | Flutter & Hum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s