Portland’s show is held in the convention center, where the stage is set by these sculptures by Ming Fey: sprigs of poppies dangling overhead and giant pods resting on pedestals at each end of the great hall.
Outside of the exhibit hall is a taste of things to come.
Including an orb sculpture from the Cracked Pots booths. I must confess to rushing by that area of the show, and only appreciating it once someone has pulled out a nice piece like this to feature in a garden setting. Scott has the good eye for such things and has purchased some terrific garden art.
A pet peeve for many is the practice of forcing things into bloom for the display gardens. Sorry, guys…this is Fantasy Gardening. You want realism? Go to the arboretum.
Or…you purists could head straight for the HPSO booth, where you will find cuttings and plants only in their natural state. Here you see a table populated by blooming branches. This time of year it is dominated by witch hazels, daphne, a few viburnums and sarcacocca.
Another table was devoted to berry bearing branches. Everything in the HPSO booth is labeled with the proper Latin name, there are informational signs like the one you see here, and there are reference materials and live bodies to help you answer your questions.
Here’s an overview of the exhibit floor, filled with booths selling everything garden related, from plants to artifacts to wine (that last may be a stretch, but believe me: after a few hours tromping around the show, you’ll be ready for a glass of wine).
A few of the vendors shun the commercial route and go for a more inspirational approach.
My mission is usually to cull the display gardens for ideas. These red metal arches led into one of the gardens.
Where you really have to look past the excess to pick up on the good ideas lurking here. Speaking of excess: see the weeping lights in the weeping tree to the left? They also morphed into different colors! And that blue tree in the back? That is no lighting trick…the tree is painted blue.
But in a quieter part of that same garden, the up-lighting silhouetted the bare trees against the dark evergreen background. I could maybe use that idea.
Fire pits were big this year. This one is surrounded by seating formed by steel mesh crates topped with pillows. The pavilion in the back is topped by an eco-roof in a pattern of squares. If we wanted to get nit-picky here, we might mention that a) the seating has no opening for entry and those crates look pretty heavy b) plants rarely consent to retain a geometric pattern c) pillows left outside will soon sport muddy footprints, or worse. But again, I remind you that this is Fantasy Gardening.
One display had a 50’s theme, right down to the outfits worn by its attendants.
It’s a fire pit! It’s a fountain! It’s a repurposed Weber!
It’s unusual to see a stock tank in-ground…more unusual to see the fish be large-mouthed bass.
This flower cut out of shiny metal and used as a fire pit lit up a dark corner in a dramatic way.
Did you notice that the back of that chair is upholstered in succulents? And look at the cutouts in the plywood floor.
Here’s a closer look at those floor designs: some filled with moss, others with daffodils.
I liked the use of simple 4 x 4’s for edging and the on-end branches as a transition zone (perhaps an alternative to the more commonly seen pebbles?)
I’ll close with my favorite of the display gardens. The little house on the left is cantilevered over the pool. Tricks of lighting emphasize the already flaming vine maples (or something…I didn’t check) in the back. Small trees with bright bark were a popular trend, as were Edgeworthias (foreground, right). The whole area of the display gardens was dimly lighted, the better to emphasize the use of dramatic lighting.
And there you have a rundown of the things that caught my eye. I’ll be cruising your blogs to see what others thought. If you have strong opinions, I hope you will voice them (in your blog, or in the comments). It makes it all more fun, don’t you think?