Blogger Appreciation Day at Joy Creek!!!

I admit it – I have been a bit consumed with national politics and the world’s reactions lately. But who can blame me? One nut bag decree issued, after the other… It’s been almost three years since I got my American citizenship. Being a white person from a non-muslim country I probably would have gotten admitted just fine, despite my comparatively liberal views. But with recent events in painful memory, by now I’m starting to feel almost  ashamed of living here. In the torn duality of my existentialist despair, I had almost forgotten the restorative powers of spending some time outside in the garden. A few hours spent the other day, picking off dead leaves and broken twigs, and snipping away at the larger storm debris did wonders for my soul.  So when my friends and fellow bloggers Tamara and Ricki who both work at the wonderful Joy Creek Nursery together with its owners Maurice and Mike, invited us all for a Blogger Appreciation Day, I jumped at a chance to get away from it all. I mean, who wouldn’t have? Besides, it gave me a stellar opportunity to post a truly garden-related blog post. It feels as if it’s been awhile…


Everyone gathering, with Alan and Jane in mutual admiration of, and comparing each other’s footwear. From the left; Evan, Alan, Jane, Loree, Matthew, and Amy.


More bloggers have arrived in this photo; Linda, Alyse, and Phillip, as well as the welcoming crew Tamara, Mike and Maurice.


Mike had planned an educational walk through the gardens. The topic was how to deal with post storm clean-up – something I think most of us are currently grappling with. Seeing the healed pruning scars of this old walnut, added to the task at hand, knowing full well how merciless the past two storms were on my own garden.



Pieris isn’t typically one of those shrubs that sends my heart a-twitter, but seeing these clouds of buds in the white light, almost made me wish I still had one. They are fabulous plants for native bees like mason bees, as they provide an early food source for them when they first crawl out of their cells.


The Hamamelis were in full, raging bloom. No winter damage there!


Drifts of snowdrops emerging.


Mike at the ready with the pruning saw, contemplating the receptiveness of the gawking bloggers. 🙂


Vanessa taking in the sorry sight of a Juniper with pretty severe storm damage. It would have to be pruned back to any point of breakage, and carefully tied back up, in an attempt top preserve its distinct form.


Amy, Alan, Linda, Alyse, Jenni, Jane, and Evan deep in conversation, or taking in the marvelous views in all directions of the gardens. If the photo was better, you would have been able to see the snowcapped Cascade mountains in the distance – a sight that always makes me swoon a little.


There was some pretty severe damage on other things, but the beautifully mulched bed of roses came away unscathed. Amazingly, the Echinaca or Rudbeckia seed heads were mostly upright, too.


Not so much this poor Hydrangea aspera though, which had broken off at the root. Luckily, there is a nice, young, healthy, upright shoot left. The remedy is to remove the damaged part, and then wait, in the hopes that out of the decay, the new generation will retain its foothold, and prosper – ensuring its survival. Kind of like our political situation, isn’t it?


A bit of advice for enjoying a winter garden; Look close, and look up. I wanted to pet these Magnolia flower buds.


And, I love how the branches have an almost molecular branching structure.


Something that looked like artichoke or cardoon seed heads growing up through a Callicarpa (Beautyberry). Or, was it possibly a pink Symphoricarpos (Snowberry)? 


Here is a closeup of the berries. What do you think? I’m leaning toward Symphoricarpos, but am not at all sure.


The many, many Hydrangea flowers (one of Joy Creek’s specialty plants) had that beautifully paper-like winter quality. Surprisingly many had remained upright. This one had one of my favorite trees as a backdrop – a kind of Hornbeam with “some kind of Polish name”. I remembered it from another summer-time visit, when it was in full bloom. It was spectacular. Now, seeing it in its naked glory, I couldn’t help but admire its beautiful, vase-like form. A lovely tree – I need to find out its full name, and permanently add it to my list of fabulous, small trees.


I’m a little unsure, but I think these are either Iris or Daylily seed heads that were left for the birds. For some reason, I’m always uncertain as to which one it is, when I see them. Electric deer fence – a necessity out here – in the background.


Here they are still standing tall, silhouetted against that wonderful view.


Whole beds of Rudbeckia or Echinacea seed heads stood tall, despite the winter weather they had just endured.


Oak leaves take an annoyingly long time to fall, but they are actually quite beautiful with their toothed edges, and coppery sheen. I found myself quite enamored with this one.


Miscanthus grasses are some of the most long-lasting into winter, but you can see that the wintry weights took a toll. Still though, the flower heads still look as soft and wispy as ever.


Another piece of evidence of one of Joy Creek’s main fascinations – that of Clematis. In this particular case, I share their obsession. Wherever there is even a remote possibility, I’ll have a Clematis climbing up something or other. I think I have at least a dozen of these beauties dotting my tiny garden. One of my cram-scaping mantras is that if you can’t spread out, go up. These are perfect plants for that kind of thinking, and many have wonderful seed heads.


Nothing like a bit of red to elevate a winter garden. Cornus species add a brilliant, uplifting effect. Pruning here is beneficial in that regard – the newer shoots are always a brighter red.


It looks like a conifer, and has the finely filigreed foliage of an Erica arborea, but is actually a Hebe cupressoides. I once had one, but lost it. Now I’m kind of lusting for one again…


Woodpeckers can do a lot of damage, as evidenced by these logs. I learned from Alyse that they can also spread Verticillium wilt this way. They are awfully decorative, though, and – I think – would make great candidates for some kind of nifty decorative use in a garden. So cool.


Speaking of ways to reuse the fallout debris of storms and tree removal – Maurice gave a wonderful slideshow of what he and his partner did with the several mature poplars they had taken out on their property. They used them to construct a stumpery for ferns and woodland plants, as a main feature in a shady part of their garden. The photos showed promise of wonderful developments to come. We all hope for a chance to come visit and check it out once it matures a little. Those of us in the know, were hanging out by the plethora of goodies provided by our merry organizers, before the presentation. I especially chowed down on Tamara’s fabulous carrot ginger soup. Soooo good!!!


As many of you know by now, ferns and mosses are some of my favorite plant groups. I honestly don’t know much about mosses, but I always marvel at how similar they are in looks to each other. And, of course, that they tend to like similar conditions. Seeing closeups of moss makes me think of my math-loving son, who during a fifth grade math test – as the other students finished and left the room remained at his seat, mesmerized at the parabolic curves on his computer screen. When nudged that it was time to wrap it up, he dreamily lifted his eyes and excitedly told the test administrators of his new discovery. “I just figured something out! All the parabolas are the same! It’s the distance from where you see them that makes them appear different!” He was so excited, and I totally get that. I get the same mental tickle from comparing plants – especially ferns and mosses. It’s all about actual scale, and the distance from which you view them. 


Here is another possible contender for my dreamy fern world, but this time a conifer. Not sure what kind, but I think some kind of Cupressus. It had held up beautifully in the winter storms.


The lichen on this branch caught my eye. The colorful world of winter is more subtle than that of the other seasons, but make no mistake. It is jubilantly colorful, but you have to proceed slowly so you can see. This is what I meant when I said earlier that you have to look closely. It would be all too easy to move past it at regular speed, and totally miss it. Winter truly is a time for thought and reflection.


More of my moss obsession. This is a shot down the empty shade house tables. What? Did I just say empty? Again, it depends on what scale you’re operating in.


I got such a kick of this luxurious velvet-padded foot of one of the table legs. When people ask me what they can do to kill moss, my inclination is to gently take them by the hand, make them bend down with me so I can show them the miniature worlds of moss. I try to drive home the point that if they don’t like moss, they should probably take down their trees and shrubs. I’m always amazed how hard it is for folks to understand that the two are intrinsically related, as part of the same biological system.  Mind you, I’m more inclined to hear their concern when the moss is overtaking their roof and paths. At that point, it really can become a health and safety hazard. But from a gardener’s perspective, I confess to loving the soft, perpetually green lushness of moss.


On my way home from this uplifting experience among friends at Joy Creek, I passed by this sign. It made me laugh, as it completely summed up my feelings about an award this blog received earlier this week. However flattering an award or any kind of plug generally is (almost regardless of origin) I guess you always have to ask yourself who doled out the award, and on what basis. With this one, I still don’t have it completely figured out. Regardless, despite some trepidation, I gratefully accepted the award, and – for now – agreed to post the badge that came with it – if for no other reason than to return the favor. Like moss and tall trees, I imagine bloggers and websites too enjoy a certain symbiotic relationship.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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22 Responses to Blogger Appreciation Day at Joy Creek!!!

  1. Alison says:

    Thanks for posting all your photos and sharing your thoughts from the Joy Creek Blogger Appreciation Day. I’m so sorry I missed it, but it’s a long way to drive and I had just gotten back from California the night before. I’m a moss lover too! I can’t understand people who want to kill it.

    • annamadeit says:

      Well, of course it would have been great to see you, but I totally understand. That’s a long way away for both you and Peter. I know you were there in spirit! 🙂

  2. Looks like a fun day but of course, I must ask. Was there any plant shopping? And yes that is definitely a Symphoricarpos. And I’m so sorry American politics has given you cause to doubt your decision to relocate here. It’s really pathetic what’s happening in Washington. I spent some time outside today, puttering in the garden. It was nice to be surrounded by nature’s comfort.

    • annamadeit says:

      Gardening always does the trick, doesn’t it? Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe it – it’s a national tragedy! But yes, there was indeed shopping. Joy Creek even offered us to look at their availability lists, and simply call or email in the order. Those smart people who took advantage of that offer had their orders waiting for them when they got there. Thanks for clarifying the Symphoricarpos!

  3. It was no nice meeting you Anna and despite the cold, a lot of fun!

  4. I’m glad you were able to extricate yourself from the news and spend some time in enjoyable, life-affirming pursuits, Anna. I’ve begun to think I may go mad so I’m trying to find ways to gain some perspective or, barring that, at least a measure of relief from the relentless craziness.

    • annamadeit says:

      As you can probably imagine, it was wonderful to see everyone. Gardener friends are the best, most sane souls I know of. No better shield against the insanity of the surrounding world! It reeled my mental state back into a better place, Kris!

  5. I knew you would have some fabulous, artsy photos! And you didn’t disappoint! I love your perspective and written summary of our fun event!

  6. lyart says:

    Interesting post – you are full right, we are all starved for garden content. Congrats for the award…

  7. Mark and Gaz says:

    Concerning times at the moment so best be reminded by great times like this for now…

    • annamadeit says:

      I’m worried sick, so yes – spend time making phone calls and writing letters to representatives, protesting, agonizing about the news, and then spend an hour or two in the garden as a well deserved reward for the necessary pain of staying on top of these horrid developments. Concerning times, indeed – I keep thinking I live in a Salvador Dalí painting…

  8. Excellent photos, recording a day’s sanity, demonstrating that humanity still exists

    • annamadeit says:

      Right? Funny how it always feels that way when I hang out with fellow gardeners. Seriously, gardening should be taught in schools, from a very young age. If it were, we would be raising different people to run this world.

  9. Looks like great fun! Wish I were close enough to attend.

  10. rickii says:

    I was needing a Joy Creek fix too…with the added bonus of getting to see some of my favorite people.

    • annamadeit says:

      It was great to see you, Rickii! Such a wonderful day – I can’t tell you how good it was for my battered soul… Thank you so much for pulling it all together! 😀

  11. Evan Bean says:

    It was so nice to be able to get together and see so many of our friends, and tour a garden on top of that! I’m really enjoying seeing the photos everyone took; the different things that caught different eyes. I love moss, too. And magnolia branches! I’m pretty sure that dreamy contender is a hebe, not a conifer. Maybe Hebe salicornioides?

    • annamadeit says:

      I think you’re right, Evan. It probably IS a Hebe. It really looked conifer-like, but I couldn’t make sense of the form. I googled the salicornioides, and sure enough… it looks a lot like it. Your plant knowledge never fails to astonish me – wow! 😀

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