Orchids and Hostas and Maples, Oh My!

Orchids and Hostas and Maples, Oh My!


Bulbs, tubers, perennials, shrubs and trees fill the Plant Market at the garden show.

Back in my attendee days when I went to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show with gardening friends, we were always on a mission – the Plant Market. Inspirational show gardens? They can wait. A speaker lineup of who’s who in horticulture? We’ll check those out later. We made a beeline to the Plant Market because we couldn’t wait to satisfy our lust for plants – and after our shopping apree, somewhat satiated, we stashed them in the free package check before seeing the rest of the show. (When I went to work for the show in 2005 it really put a cramp in my show shopping! Darn!)


The Plant Market at the garden show is always laden with displays of plants in all forms – packaged tubers, bulbs and perennials; colorful 4-inch pots in a tapestry of colors; 1-gallon containers with trees, shrubs and still more perennials (especially Hellebores) and rack after rack of seeds too. Once again an exceptional group of specialty nurseries are bringing their plants to us – think of them as the “dealers” that supply our craving for new and distinctive plants, or tried-and-true stalwarts of the garden. Here’s just a small sampling of the nurseries you’ll find in our Plant Market:  


Peace of Mind Nursery is bringing choice conifers like this Pinus wallenchiana 'Zebrina'.

Dave Groetz, of Oregon’s Peace of Mind Nursery is excited to be exhibiting at the show for the first time. I asked Dave for a few photos of his favorite conifers. I didn’t realize it was it was akin to asking a mother to choose which child was her favorite – Dave has 570 conifers to choose from! He plans to bring Abies koreana ‘Silver Show’; Pinus thunbergii ‘Shirome Janome’; Cedrus libani ‘Blue Snake’; Abies concolor ‘Dwarf Blue’; Abies koreana ‘Silberperle’ (grows 1/2″ – 1″ annually – a real cutie!); and Pinus parviflora ‘Fuku-zu-mi’ to the garden show. He’ll also bring selections of Abies – True Firs, Cedars, Chamaecyparis, Pines, Spruce, Cupressus mac. ‘Gold Crest’, even Araucaria araucana, the Monkey Puzzle tree, along with some shade-tolerant hemlocks.


Conifer lovers will be in total nirvana this year. In addition to Dave’s choice conifers, we’ll have two seminars by Richard Bitner, author of Designing with ConifersThe Best Choices for Year-round Interest in Your Garden, recently released by Timber Press. Richard will be speaking on Wednesday and Thursday at the show, and you’ll want to pick up an autographed copy of his books to go with your conifers from Peace of Mind Nursery. 


Keeping it Green Nursery always has some beauties, like Cypripedium formosanum.

Keeping it Green Nursery is always a popular spot for show attendees. Arlen Hill has some choice new cultivars that he’ll be bringing, including a few different Pleione orchids (creamy whitish yellow and a red throat, which is harder to find than the usual pinkish purple forms). Arlen says show favorites are always Dactylorhiza, Lilium vollmeri, and Cypripedium formosanum (Ladyslippers). And for those who are trying to be water-wise in their gardens, he’s bringing Brodiaea, Olsynium, Allium, Fritillaria, Camasia and Erythronium, to name a few. Of course, many of us have dry conditions, and shade too, but Arlen is bringing good plant choices for shady gardens with Kirengeshoma, Trillium, Arisaema ringens, Calanthe, Cypripedium, Epimedium, and Syneilesis.


You can’t miss B&D Lilies – the perfume of the large displays draw you closer to the baskets overflowing with tempting packaged lily bulbs. You can bet that good things come in those small packages. Just pop the lilies in the ground, and within 5 – 6 months you’ll get strong stems of lilies heavily budded with gorgeous, perfumed Oriental lilies. (If you prefer unscented, go for Asiatic lilies.)  Diana Gibson gave me a sneak preview for 2012. “I’m trying to get the new super-dwarf Eucomis out of Australia, more of the short gladiolus varieties, plus Zephyranthes (rain lilies). They will do well in containers, in rock gardens and under the eves in our area,” she said. Plus they’ll have lilies – loads and loads of tempting lilies.


You'll be seeing double with the new Oriental Lily 'Lodewijk' from the Lily Pad.

And don’t forget The Lily Pad Bulb Farm, another long-time exhibitor with a huge array of lily bulbs just ready to plant in your garden. Owner Jan Detwiler says they have some new things in store for the 2012 show. “I’m bringing some really nice double Oriental Lilies, like ‘Miss Lucy’, ‘Distant Drum’, ‘Lodewijk’, and ‘Magic Star’, just to mention a few of them, along with some excellent new Oriental Trumpet (OT) lilies, such as ‘Flashpoint’, ‘TableDance’, and ‘Invasion’. And look for more than lilies too, such as ‘Winter Jewels’ jumbo double-flowered Helleborus. I’ve got some beautiful variegated hardy Cyclamen ‘Something Magic’ which I’ll be bringing. And I’ve got a great assortment of patented bare-root Astrantia cultivars, for shade gardens.”


Acer palmatum "Bihou" from Maples for All Seasons is sure to sell out fast.

Japanese maples grow beautifully in the Pacific Northwest, and Maples for All Seasons always has a tempting selection. You don’t need a large property to grow these classic trees – they make great container specimens. Last February owner Barry Hoffer brought a new form of Coral Bark Maple to the show, Acer palmatum ‘Bihou’, and sold out within hours. So this year he is bringing a whole truckload of them. If you love Coral Bark Maples you will want one of these – it does not lose its color as it ages! It stays a solid yellow-orange sherberty color from the graft all the way up the tree, with new spring foliage in lime green, a bright contrast to the colorful stems. If you want to learn how to grow maples in containers, or how to prune a maple aesthetically (Barry is also a certified arborist) catch Barry’s seminars at the show – “Pruning Japanese Maples” on Friday and “Container Gardening with Japanese Maples” on Saturday. 


The new Hosta 'Bam Bam' from Naylor Creek Nursery has incredibly blue leaves.

Naylor Creek Nursery has long been one of my favorite Plant Market exhibitors. With my woodland shade garden, it carried the perfect plants for me – hostas (they can be an addiction). And I really get excited about blue plants in any form. New this year is Hosta ‘Bam Bam Blue,’ which is described by Gary and Jack as one of the nicest “blues” they have seen. Other choice hosts they are bringing include ‘Forbidden Fruit’, ‘Lakeside Cupcake’, ‘Midnight at the Oasis’, ‘Purple Haze’, ‘Volcano Island’, ‘Woop Woop’, ‘War Paint’, ‘Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’ along with a full complement of Trilliums, Arisaemas and Hellebores. 


Heaths & Heathers brings a huge selection of colorful plants to every show.

Heaths and Heathers is planning a larger booth for the 2012 show, and owner Karla Lortz says they have a new show special – a “Baker’s Dozen.” If you buy 12 you get the 13th plant for free – you even get to choose the free plant. “We’ll have South African Erica ‘Winter Fire’ on special at the show. We’ll also have a good selection of extremely rare alpine Cassiope (Western Mountain heather) at the show, along with some Empetrum nigrum (“Crowberry”) and spectacular South African heaths. We will also be offering collections that we put together for you to take the confusion out of what to pick.” Sounds like a great idea – count on Heaths and Heathers to pick collections that will keep you in easy-care blooms every month of the year. 

There are orchids in every size, color and shape at the garden show.

The array of Orchid varieties at the garden show never ceases to amaze me. As always we’ll have some exceptional Orchid exhibitors, and their prices can’t be beat – Andy’s Orchids, Emerald City OrchidsKawamoto Orchids and SeattleOrchids.com with Orchids from. And if you are an orchid aficionado, you won’t want to miss the Northwest Orchid Society’s show garden, designed by Joseph Grienauer, of Emerald City Orchids, titled “Symphony Orchidstra.” It’s an artful blend of stunning orchid blossoms and invaluable orchid cultivation tips, perfect for both novice and experienced Orchid fans.


Erynigium 'Big Blue' from Sundquist Nursery provides it all - bold blue, awesome texture and drought tolerance.

As always, Sundquist Nursery offers beautiful and unusual varieties that nevertheless grow. Plants for filtered light include Epimedium ‘Bandit’, with profuse white blooms over black-edged leaves suggesting a pirate’s patch, and 2012 Hosta of the Year, ‘Liberty’. Plants for bright spots include several increasingly reliable brilliant new Echinaceas, electrifying Coreopsis ‘Cosmic Eye’ (if you don’t mind a crowd of raucous blooms staring boldly up at you) and (because Nils Sundquist loves cut flowers, butterflies, and the color blue) Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ – very big, very blue, and grows very well. Traditional favorites include better oriental poppies, fragrant phloxes, and ferns.


Below is the list of all our Plant Market exhibitors as of today. The complete list of our 300+ exhibitors will be on our website soon. ~ Janet


Andy’s Orchids Inc
B & D Lilies/Snow Creek Gardens
Branches Garden Center
Chocolate Flower Farm
Dahlia Barn
Dan’s Dahlias
Edelweiss Perennials
Emerald City Orchids
Franchi Old World Seeds
Furney’s Nursery
Heaths & Heathers
Heirloom Roses
Irish Eyes Garden Seeds
Keeping It Green Nursery
Maples For All Seasons
Molbak’s Nursery
My Garden Nursery
N & M Herb Nursery
Naylor Creek Nursery
Owens Gardens
Peace of Mind Nursery
Raintree Nursery
Ravenna Gardens
River Rock Nursery
Sundquist Nursery Inc
Swan Island Dahlias
Swanson’s Nursery*
The Lily Pad
Two Green Thumbs
Woodland Gardens


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