Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our First Day in Seattle

Mountains as seen from our plane. This is a
big deal for us.
Mom and I have been waiting all year for this. In 2009, we traveled to Chicago for the 2nd Annual Garden Bloggers Fling. Last year, it was in Buffalo, New York. This year, we were in the Pacific Northwest, in Seattle - a place in which I've never ever been, in spite of having numerous invitations from both a good high school friend and a geocaching friend.

The Seattle Fling was held over four days, after which Mom and I spent a day with Jennifer (my friend from high school), then nearly a week on Whidbey Island at the home of my geocaching friend. We took the ferry over to Canada, to tour Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island as well. Just Too. Much. Fun.

Clouds and Clunkers - 2006 sculpture by Peter Shelton at SEATAC airport.
I think they look like Jarvik artificial hearts.

Look at the size of that Butterfly Bush in the
corner! It's nearly 10 feet tall!
We arrived in Seattle a day before the Fling was officially to begin. As we rode the shuttle from the airport to our hotel, most noticeable were the many conifers and a large shrub that we didn't recognize all along the roadways. Mom and I discussed what it could be, and finally settled on butterfly bush (Buddleia sp.). But that couldn't be, could it? They don't grow that large, at least not in Ohio. But the driver confirmed it and we learned that they're even invasive in Washington, unlike Ohio, where we feel lucky if they live through the winter.

We arrived at our hotel, the Silver Cloud Inn near University Village, and saw several familiar faces in the lobby, including Carol of May Dream Gardens and Elizabeth Licata of Garden Rant. Alison, a new blogger friend who writes Bonney Lassie, had organized a trip to Molbak's Garden + Home for the afternoon, so several of us met there for lunch and for some pre-Fling plant buying.

L-R: Mom, Me, Catherine from A Gardener in Progress, Barbara from
bwisegardening, Alison from Bonney Lassie, Katie from The Garden of Words,
and Helen from Toronto Gardens .

Nurseries like this just don't exist where I live, and it seems that Seattle has some sort of plantplacewhereyoucandropalottabucks on nearly every corner.

This is not fair to the rest of the world.

But Seattle is in the great Pacific Northwest, otherwise known as the Gardening Mecca of the U.S. With zones varying from 6-8 and even some at 9, longer daylight hours in the summer (due to their latitude), and micro-climates here, there and everywhere, coupled with relatively cool nights, plants like to live there and so do people. At the end of the first day, I was ready to move. Coming from the pizza oven that has been the Midwest this summer, the PNW was a most welcome relief.


Even though we had to fly home and our take-home goodies would be limited, we excel at packing a suitcase full of plants. Our trip to Dallas last fall for the Garden Writers' annual symposium tested our mettle and we passed with flying colors. So we began our shopping straight away.

Monkey Puzzle Tree
(Araucaria araucana)
Having seen a fabulous specimen of the Monkey Puzzle Tree on the way to Molbak's and first having learned about it on Yolanda Elizabet's Bliss blog (she dislikes them), I was excited to find a small version for sale. It was even growing in a flat plane (think: espalier) which would make it a cinch to pack between my jeans and t-shirts. Sold.

I also found a really nice 'Top Hat' blueberry plant. I'd gotten three small ones earlier in the summer from an online nursery which will not be named, but those quickly became history. (I think two of them were already history before they got to me.) I put that on my cart too, along with a pretty red square ceramic pot.

This trip to Molbak's created some inner stress because I knew we were going to be visiting several other fabulous nurseries before trip's end and goodness knows they would be full of all sorts of horticultural temptations, not to mention items of whimsy. Thoughts of UPS and Fed Ex began swirling in our heads.

Gorgeous orchids at Molbak's

We returned to the hotel and got settled in, and then walked to University Village shopping center, just a block or so away. More shopping! Only a small purchase at Crate and Barrel this time - some spoon straws, which will come in handy for eating/drinking fruit smoothies.
Just singin' in the rain at University Village Shopping Center fountain.

We got a preview of Ravenna Gardens, where we had a wine and cheese reception the next night. (Oh my. More shopping stress!)

Ravenna Gardens

These Brugmansias at Ravenna Gardens smelled heavenly as we walked by
them in the early evening.

Ravenna Gardens

Since we were still on Eastern time, we called it a night fairly early (by my night owl standards) so we could officially begin the Fling the next day, rested and ready!


Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I'm glad you had such a good time out here. How nice they you were able to extend the trip and enjoy more of this area. It was so nice to meet you and your mom at Molbak's. I wondered how your plants did in your suitcase.

Kylee Baumle said...

Catherine, I'm SO glad you came over to Molbak's so we could meet! As you know, I'm in love with the PNW. My plants all made it home just fine! I barerooted everything, then planted them when I got home. The only one that looks bad is the small seedling I got at Dragonfly Farms. Heidi just gave it (Variegated St. John's Wort) to me and it was really small. I don't think it's alive anymore, but everything else looks great!

Alison said...

It was great meeting you and your mom, and thanks so much for the shout-out to my blog! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your Fling posts, as well as your pictures and posts about all the cool places you went afterward.

Hope all your Molbak's purchases thrive!

Diana said...

What a great nursery and you got a head start on everything! I loved the Monkey Puzzle trees - you'll have to let us know how it does in Ohio. I'm sure I couldn't keep it alive here with 54 day of over 100 already and no end in sight, but I thought it was cool.

Kylee Baumle said...

It's not hardy here, Diana, so I've got it in a container and it will go in the greenhouse for the winter. I think it's a zone 6 and I'm in 5, so I could try it, but I'm not willing to risk losing it. I know you guys have been hit EXTRA hard down there with the heat. It's bad here, too, but we're getting a bit of rain finally. Nothing major, but every little bit helps!

It was so good to see you again, Diana, although we didn't get much one-on-one time like I'd hoped. It's hard when there are so many people and so many things to do, isn't it? Still hoping to take you up on your invitation to Austin someday!

Sue Ellen said...

Hope to see much more of your trip to the PNW. It is an area that I would truly love to see.

Sue Ellen

Louise Hartwig said...

Each new blogger we meet is one of life's blessings. Alison was special, a local that seemed to know the right places and things to do. Thank you Alison. Louise Where did we eat that night, Kylee? Was it where Diana hosted?

Sue said...

Glad you liked the Pacific Northwest. I am located in Vancouver, WA. (2.5 hrs. south of Seattle) but was unable to come to the Fling due to other obligations. It truly is a gardeners paradise with the exception of the occasional extra cold winter or super wet spring, those can do some of the plants in. Look forward to more pics.

Sue said...

Glad you liked the Pacific Northwest. I am located in Vancouver, WA. (2.5 hrs. south of Seattle) but was unable to come to the Fling due to other obligations. It truly is a gardeners paradise with the exception of the occasional extra cold winter or super wet spring, those can do some of the plants in. Look forward to more pics.

Commonweeder said...

What a great day - and the Tour hasn't even begun yet. I also got to visit with a cousin and dear friend. Yay for Seattle.

Betty819 said...

What a neat place to visit; it would certainly be "my cup of tea." All that gardening beauty and that conservatory; what great ideas I saw in that picture. We have a sunporch where we get the bright sunshine until about dinner time. Because of the glare for my husband, we have to keep the mini-blinds closed almost all day and it drives me crazy. I like to be able to look out. I feel caustiphobic in that room. I wonder if that type of shade would help our glare problem. I'm so glad you and Mom got to go to this event. Bet it was fun!

Pam/Digging said...

How fun! And your Molbacks group is even coordinated in navy blue! It was good to see you and your mom again, Kylee. I look forward to seeing you both in Asheville next year!

blogger templates | Make Money Online