New Plants and Old Friends at Farwest 2014

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I’m back!

I decided to retire What Blooms When, retool, rebrand, and relaunch.

Still writing about gardens, gardening, new plants, old plants, phenology, photography.  A friend told me the new blog title would “indicate [my] incredible humility to [my] billions of readers.”

I was thrilled that www.amycampion.com was still available.  You wouldn’t think Amy Campion would be an unusual name, but apparently it is.  There is an Amy “Catfox” Campion, hip hop dancer, in L.A.  I don’t think we would ever be confused, as I look like a giraffe on rollerskates when trying to dance, and I would bet Ms. Catfox doesn’t know the difference between an Arctostaphylos and a Calibrachoa.  Maybe she does, who knows?  Just glad she didn’t take my domain name.

But I digress.  I have a lot of catching up to do!

I made my first-ever trip to the Farwest Trade Show last month.  It was fun to see what was new at the nurseries.

STYRAX JAPONICA MARLEYS PINK PARASOLS WEEPING JAPANESE SNOWBELL

This tree was a hit.  Marley’s Pink Parasol® weeping Japanese snowbell from JLPN.  Supposedly gets only 8 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide.  Who couldn’t find space for that cutie pie?

Japanese snowbells are taken for granted here in Portland.  They always look fabulous—even in September, when it hasn’t rained for months.  When we moved into our rental house, I wanted to let in more light in the backyard for a vegetable garden.  Our landlord pointed at a healthy snowbell growing well over my head and said, “You can take that out if you want.”

And I did.

Perhaps I need to atone for that, and plant a Pink Parasol.

QUERCUS BICOLOR AMERICAN DREAM SWAMP WHITE OAK

Big trees have a hard time strutting their stuff at trade shows.  They’re too young to show what they can do.  But this American Dream® swamp white oak from J. Frank Schmidt looked sharp.  Its leaves were glossy and perfect.

Swamp white oak is the species of tree planted at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in New York City, chosen for its durability and modest (showy but not too flashy) gold fall color.  There are 412 of them planted there.

LAGERSTROEMIA MIDNIGHT MAGIC CREPE MYRTLE BAILEY

This crape myrtle made me do a double-take.  This is First Editions® Midnight Magic™ from Bailey Nurseries.  The foliage stays that dark chocolate color all season.  They have another called Moonlight Magic™, with white flowers against chocolate leaves.

These crape myrtles were bred by Michael Dirr.  I got to talk to Dr. Dirr while he was in town—so happy that I did.  When I was a grad student in Sociology at the University of Georgia many years ago, I became interested in plants and was able to take a couple of classes from him.  If you’ve read the “Dirr Book,” you can imagine how passionate, opinionated, and informed his lectures were.  It didn’t take long before I was hooked.  I had to pursue a career in horticulture.  I abandoned my plans to become a professor of sociology and took an entry-level nursery job.  It was a crazy move, but the right one for me.

HYPERICUM MOCCA ST JOHNSWORT BAILEY

This First Editions® Mocca hypericum, also from Bailey, was another hot number.  So that’s the St. Johnswort I’ve been seeing with the beautiful fruits—Hypericum inodorum.  A similar plant of the same species, Magical® Universe, from Plants Nouveau, was also featured at the show’s New Varieties Showcase.

CUPHEA VERMILLIONAIRE PROVEN WINNERS

The folks at the Proven Winners® booth loaded me up with enough catalogs to dislocate my shoulder.  But I love poring through their catalogs.  They were apologetic about this Cuphea Vermillionaire™—said it was unhappy about being inside for so long.  I thought it looked dynamite.

HEUCHARELLA LEAPFROG PROVEN WINNERS

This chartreuse Heucherella ‘Leapfrog,’ from Walters Gardens/Proven Winners® really popped in every display it was in.  It would fit into many different color schemes.  I wonder, how does one get on the Proven Winners® “Garden Communicators” list to try some of these new plants for free (hintedty-hint-hint)?

ALLAN ARMITAGE AT FARWEST SHOW 2014 SKAGIT

I also got to catch up with Allan Armitage at the show.  Dr. A was an inspiration to me, too, when I was at UGA, and his lectures on perennials and the excursions to gardens that he led are some of the happiest memories I have of that time in my life.  (Oh, yeah, I did get married then, too.  That was pretty awesome.)

It was some feat of luck for all the planets to align for me like they did… I happened to go to UGA in the 90s, I happened to discover an interest in plants then, and the authority on All Things Herbacious and the authority on All Things Woody happened to be teaching there at the same time.

I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love every day, and to have had such great mentors to lead the way.  Thank you!

 

 

 


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