Forcing Plants for an Award-Winning Show Garden

Forcing Plants for an Award-Winning Show Garden

ColeSteve Haizlip, President of New Leaf Creations, Inc. and his wife just welcomed a new little guy to their family. Welcome to baby Cole!

Steve says that he is behind a little on the new show garden due to family changes, but we talked today about how it’s coming along. For many show gardens, the current project is forcing the plants. That is, coaxing them to bloom earlier and in time for the show. But for “Nature’s Classroom”, Steve is using mostly NW Native plants including ferns, which do not need forced.

Steve and his boys

Prominent throughout the display will be “Autumn Ferns” which will color the garden with bronze, orange and red colors. These are not as common as the “Sword Ferns” (green) that we see in multiple numbers in our local forests.

The team is forcing some rhododendrons at Lake Washington Technical College and Steve says that it can be tricky. The freeze this year came early and sometimes they have to slow the plants down by putting them back outside. But if a hard freeze comes, it can ruin all the rhododendrons. So the team must carefully watch weather changes and keep an eye on the health of the plants.

I asked Steve how he determines which of the garden components are built off-site as opposed to on the showroom floor. “I have learned a lot through the four years we have been building,” he says. “The first year we built it all from scratch (on the floor) but this time we will build the infrastructure mostly off-site. I have to estimate the time it will take and also the weight. For instance, when we built the gold-medal tree fort, we built most of it off-site but had to nail the siding while on the floor. It would have been too heavy for the truck. It’s not as much science as it sounds but planning ahead and having enough time are essential.”

How to Build an Award-Winning Show Garden, Part 1

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