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Curious Lola

Botanic Garden Part 1: Goodfellow’s Stylish Grey Lady

There’s something so special about open flat places surrounded by tall things. I’ve heard somewhere that when polled about whether or not a hometown is beautiful, people in locations with open flat places surrounded by tall places overwhelmingly voted yes. Some of the most beautiful places have these characteristics, Seattle, Montana, the sea among islands in south Thailand, the highlands of Mexico, Lake Atitlan Guatemala (from whence I’ve just returned). Places like that offer enough space to feel released and have a good prospect, but have a border in the distance letting you visually understand the shape of the space and your location in it. It gives the feeling that if you spun around, you can see everything… and alternately, there is nothing you can’t see. Nothing dribbling out and spilling over. Everything is cuddled up in a nice geological hug.

I think the same applies for event space. Spacious but with definition and structure. People aren’t oozing out the edges but have enough space to cut loose.  I think that is why I like the University of Washington’s Botanic Garden  and their Goodfellow Grove. Open lawn, open sky, surrounded by rustic and wily native roses and trees. It’s natural romance is just lovely. We set up a couple of different vignettes for their Event Vendor Showcase in July and have just got the photos back from Red Sparrow Photography (who, I think, also makes nice use of the ‘open space v. interesting bits’ rule).

Here we show a simple set up in the Grove with our famed grey tent… This is the first time we’ve used this tent. It was constructed by the ridiculously talented Lorraine of Lorraine’s Bridal (who also somehow made my working mule of a body look good in a wedding gown.) She sewed these panels so that if you ran into it head on, swirled the luxurious ruffles up around your face, and fell to the ground among the poufs and petals, you still would not see a single unfinished hem. Once up, we realized that this beautiful grey lady needs a fabulous hat. It’s just not quite complete yet, so we’re working on it…. but the lovely panels are for rent if you would like a creation for your event.

The grey ruffle adds some femininity to a modern color palette.

I adore these stick spheres…. These were the reason I had white rustoleum paint in my hair for my wedding…

Can we have an event this year without Le Pouf. No. The answer is no. 2011 is the year of Le Pouf. And we extend the right to Le Pouf to carry on. Carry on Pouf!


Stay tuned for a table display that will make you happy.

Lovin’ the Locals

I finally get it. Local… community… help your neighbor… got it. Thank you.

Giant Allium and Eremerus at the Grower's Market

During college we waved our local, sustainability flags. We were groomed to make designs “eco-revelatory.” This meant to reveal the natural processes of the systems around us through our thoughtful and sensitive designs. Seriously, this term was used on a daily basis.  We spent our days devising drawings that would persuade people out of their cars and into denser communities. We used site design and traffic patterns to force people to have more contact with fellow humans. Smaller and smaller footprints were the obsession- growies on every surface, producing edibles for all. Less heat island, more tree canopy! Restore that plot of land to…something that… looks wild. At one point I brought in apples to my fellow students which were promptly rejected for their unorganic-ness. I understood then and I understand now that these things have some importance, but have always been a little less passionate about it than some. Maybe it all seemed too big a beast to tackle.

red hot poker

After graduation, I realized, money is a challenge in all building projects. Educating people who don’t care about this stuff is a daunting hurdle and often a waste of time. Sometimes you don’t really want to talk to the creepy guy next door. Sometimes we just want something pretty to look at. Sometimes, we just want a place to rest our arse without having the bench educate us about the life cycle of a tree.

AND I realized something big. I don’t WANT to buy local if the product is inferior or the process is beyond my hassle tolerance threshold. So there.

In landscape design, staying local is pretty easy with outstanding results. In floral design, however, it gets a bit more difficult. To be brief, local flowers typically have less pesticides, herbicides, etc. because if you use flowers and plants that like it here, they will probably grow pretty easily with minimal effort. Local flowers also waste less fuel, packaging, and refrigeration. Seems like a no-brainer but seasons, quantity limitations, expensive labor, and the fleeting life of a flower make it difficult.

Viburnum at the Grower's Market

We have fantastic flowers and foliage year ’round these parts but getting the info about what people have, how much, and how to get it to me from (most likely) many sources?… Phew, challenging. Also, that process yields prices that many people aren’t willing to pay. So, imagine my JOY when I learned of the new Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market a few months ago. Now, this is not available to the public, but I just want you to know. These fine people have taken most of the challenge away, and I couldn’t be happier.



Finally, there are resources all in one place to help me piece together bigger projects with flowers and greens that are special and local. Two things I can get passionate about. This place has rooms full of people to geek out about flowers with.  What’s more is that these people have given me a bit of that passion that everybody else, so many years ago seemed to have more of. I now have the drive to make sure that I do my best to make these people stick around. Not because they are nice people (which they are), and not because all neighbors should be supported because they are next to us, but because they have something I want in the way I want it. These people are now my peeps and I have a strange protective feeling about it. I kinda just want to tell everyone about these guys.

Budding Iris

And that got me thinking. THAT is what I want people to think about ME and MY services. How does that happen?

And then another interesting thing happened. I go to a local coffee shop near my workshop on a hill not because they are there but because they have good coffee, nice people, good food, a comfy atmosphere, and toe-tapping music on the weekends. If I have meetings or guests, I bring them there. Just the other day  I was asked by the owner of Brown’s coffee in Shoreline to do some weekly floral arrangements. No problem since I am there practically every day sipping on a tasty beverage. And THAT led to meeting other interesting people in my neighborhood who happen to love what I do. Well dang me. These people are my peeps now, too. What is going on?

The moral of the story? You’ve heard it before so many times… do what you can in a way that’s meaningful to you. Because really, if I’m going to be doing small things I can really rally behind for the rest of my life, that’s a lot of sustainable impact. So, in an effort to keep this community love thing growing and healthy, I will be more alert to opportunities to promote and connect in ways that are important to me. And please, if know of ways that I can provide you with something YOU want in a way that you want it so that I can become one of YOUR peeps, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Columbine from the Grower's Market

And if you find yourself in Shoreline or Lake Forest Park, stop in to Brown’s for a tasty beverage, home-made pie, and a view of whatever floral arrangement I’ve got out.

Eremerus, Mahonia, Rubus, viburnum, and curly willow

Rad Perennials to get you out of your Funk.

When I get into a brain funk, I kick myself out of the house with my camera. It always ends up giving me some new pizzazz and some great stuff to share. This time I went out to the Center of Urban Horticulture at the UW for a couple of reasons. First, I know they’ve got some great plants and trying to do designs with a stale plant palette is like trying to make a masterpiece with just red sidewalk chalk… Like a little nub of sidewalk chalk and oversized gloves (snort, you look funny doing that in my head). Secondly, I’m presenting some floral displays at their upcoming Open House on July 21st and I wanted to scope out my preferred spots for some sketch overlays.

I gathered so many photos that I’ll have to dissect them all into three different posts: This one Rad Perennials, Orchard Grotto Wedding Visualizations, and Plants that Look Like Muppets (because there are a lot).

As a landscape architect, I can get stuck thinking too much about evergreens and plants that offer four seasons of interest since this is what my clients typically want. So when perennials come about, my eyeballs get big and I start breathing like Sasquatch. Perennials really are what tweaks the inner plant freak after months of looking down at our feet and scrambling out of the rain. So yay. Just yay.

By the way, I’m not tooooootally sure I’m correct with these plant names…

Okay, so these are chives. But seriously, little purple poufs on stems with cute perfect buds?! You know how I feel about poufs. And so low maintenance.

Astrantia! I love the simple shapes and such a great dried flower.

Disanthus cercidifolius. This vine is the bomb. It’s Katsura-like leaves are so sweet and delicate. The CUH has some amazing trellis-work covering boring walls of the building. These walls of green are divine.

Double hellebore?! Yummy fluffilicious! Bonus: its leaves are evergreen at my house on a hill and the flowers hang out a long time.

Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’- Sometimes flowers are just not as exciting as the foliage. Though when this one gets its white flower, it will pretty cool then too. I love foliage doing the copper-green thing. Throw in some chartreuse and whabam!

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’. I can’t grow ‘hot’ flowers at my house,  so I stare at this plant and think of my imaginary second home which is a sensual strawbale house with Sedums, Agave, Yucca Color Guard, and Euphorbia. And there is a miniature fluffy donkey involved in this dreamscape. His/her name is Bertrand or Beatrix with a French accent.

Okay, this is a witchazel trained to a wall (?!) Hello? Nice work!!! Beautimous.

What is this? Heuchera? Lime Marmalade? Whatever it is I want to spread it on toast and eat it. Mnom. Mnom.

Lupinus ‘The Governor’. I love this plant because of its boldness and for the fact that I keep saying the name over and over with a Terminator accent.

I don’t know the name of this but it is a mini Iris. As in 8 inches tall with 2.5 inch blooms. If you read my Iris post, you know my new-found love of Irises.

This tree is one of my all-time faves: Parrotia persica or Persian Ironwood. So lovely. It’s fall color is flippin’ fantastic too.

Anemone x hybridus? Orange? Mwhaaa? This is one of the ones I’m not too sure of. But I am sure of its total radness.

Saxifraga aureopunctata. I love the fuzzy airiness.

I included this photo because I’m always trying to get clients to leave their sedum up through the winter. the brown dried flower heads look pretty cool.

Well, that’s all folks, the rest all look like muppets. So stay tuned.

How do you do that?

Exhausted after two back to back events, I slumped on my comfy couch pondering whether I should cook myself my post event special (refried beans and tortilla chips) or do the smart thing and actually cook up something more nutritious like a kick-ass salad with the works. Instead of jumping into action, I instead zoned out the lone leftover from last night’s Museum of Flight Event (super cool space for an event by the way).

It was a purple ranunculus with full flower and two tight small buds. I became transfixed on how so lush and full a blossom can come out of something so small. How does this happen? My inner nerd had to be satiated before my belly had its way. After 2 hours of research and a still hungry belly, here’s what I came up with thanks to Wikipedia’s resources…

So buds grow from stems. Leaves on stems are modified stems. So in a plant’s life, a plant is going to send up a stem and hormones (little chemicals that are made in each cell as opposed to something like a human organ) tell the plant, “Dude, we need a leaf to eat up some of that delicious sunshine.” So cells that were making plant stem change to start making plant leaves.

Then there comes a time in every plant’s life when it wants to get busy making little plants. So the plant gauges a good time for optimal reproduction based on temperature, hormone levels, and hours of sunshine. So the same hormones tell the plant, “Hey you, Stem, we don’t need you to make leaves. Change those leaves to flowers.” So the stem stops making a leaf or stem and the cells start building the stem into a bud.

So the flowers are modified leaves. Crazy.

The flower makes sepals (the house the bud lives in), petals and stamens(pollen bits), and the carpel (middle thing that houses the reproductive junk), out of concentric rings of stem- working from the outside in. Bud, you are amazing.

I also learned from Wikipedia’s sources that apparently some plant stress hormones actually destroy some human cancer cells….

… I was leaning toward the beans and chips but maybe I’ll have both.

There. That’s settled.

Here’s a picture of the Museum of Flight. I haven’t been there since I was a wee ragamuffin. Must definitely get back there soon.

Garden Poetry Themed Table Top Arrangements

More show and tell! Last week we put together a poetry and garden themed table top design for Willows Lodge chock full of romantic and playful touches. Since Willows is smack in the middle of Herbfarm/ Winery Wonderland, I figured it worked. I wanted an old fashioned feel with modern colors and shapes, of course with special details for people to take the time to get close.

Colors were Bright Pink, Yellow, and Cyan… Maybe I was inspired by my printer cartridges. The design included a cream damask table cloth from Choice Linens, a table runner made with old pages cut out of past-their-prime gardening and classic poetry books, two tall arrangements, flower petal votive holders, poetry paper flowers, and various cut flowers and ball shapes. I was so pleased with the results! Here’s the deets:

I antiqued some old poetry book pages with all the less than desirable tea I’ve accumulated yet still wastes space next to tasty teas.

Turns out classic poetry must be edited. I spent a lot of time reading these poems- moving the good ones to the top and the scary ones to the bottom. Old poems are MESSED UP! Clearly illness and lost loved ones were more of a frequent occurrence. There were of course some very sweet ones too. Here’s one that I liked from ee cummings.

love is a place

& through this place of

love move

(with brightness of peace)

all places

yes is a world

and in this world

of yes

(skilfully curled)

all  worlds



Flowers were garden roses, Craspedia, Ranunculus, Spray Roses, Yellow Roses, Burpleurum, Myrtle, Waxflower, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Salal… and some fakies.

By the way, I don’t know if I told you yet, but I’ve got an Etsy page for favors. These favors will be up soon should you want a bulb sampler for your event.

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