From the Potting Shed

Countdown to Spring – Getting Ready for the NW Flower and Garden Show

It started with a door.

A casual comment at the end of last year’s NW Flower and Garden Show inspired me to think about how I might actually do my first container display for the City Living portion of the show.  I dreamed about what it would look like and argued with myself over feasibility, and finally plunged in.

When I learned that this was the 30th Anniversary of the show, it was an opportunity not to miss.

Because, now I had a theme:

Pearl Anniversary

It’s too bad the traditional flowers for the 30th anniversary are Lilies, because they certainly aren’t in bloom in February, but there are many other Pearl-themed plants, and of course I had to have them all:

  • Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’ was a no-brainer; had to have that.
  • Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnburg’ with its rosy tones, pairs nicely with so many other succulents.
  • Even Haworthia pumila, is also known as a Pearl Plant with its tidy white dots (er, tubercles).
  • Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ was discarded, because it wouldn’t be in bloom in Feb.  Many other plants fell into this category like Achillea ‘The Pearl’, Phlox ‘Mother of Pearl’, and so on.
  • Callicarpa ‘Pearl Glam’ was an immediate MUST HAVE because of its diminutive size and gorgeous plum colored foliage (of course the berries are fab, but the foliage really makes it sing.)  Unfortunately, despite ordering this at great expense, my specimen was moribund and wasn’t good enough to use in the show.
  • Heuchera ‘Black Pearl’ was a new introduction to me, and is slightly more ruffled than ‘Obsidian’, but still has the nice, smooth, unvariegated foliage that I like.
  • I briefly considered Choysia ‘Aztec Pearl’ but since I don’t really like its fragrance, nor its size, I didn’t want to buy one just for the show.  A number of Buddlejas also have Pearl-themed cultivar names but are also large.
  • Finding Camellia ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’ sealed the deal.


Pale pink blush blooms of Nuncio's pearl camellia


Missing my greenhouse

We moved last August, giving up a small, unheated greenhouse, but gaining a garage.  I didn’t even consider how hard it would be to ensure it would be in bloom in early February.  This Camellia has had tight buds all through Christmas and finally, I panicked and asked around on facebook how to force the bloom.  Warm it up, they said!

So I’ve spent the last month carefully bringing Nuccio’s Pearl inside to bring it along, and taking it back out to the garage to slow it down again. Today I have two perfect pearlescent blooms, and I’m convinced that the flowers will just drop off next week and I’ll be left with a denuded shrub I’m depending on!

I’m lucky that Cascade Cuts will be donating bulbs for us to use in the show, and I selected those in the pearl-pink and white range:

  • Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ – the double, ruffled ballerina of snowdrops
  • Hyacinthus – I can’t remember if I ordered ‘Blue Pearl’ or ‘Pink Fondant’; I’m hoping it will be the pink; if not, it doesn’t go into the show.
  • Muscari ‘Pink Sunrise’ with it’s tiny shell-pink baubles
  • Narcissus ‘Thalia’ – one of the finest white daffodils, especially for naturalizing.
  • Tulipa ‘Gabriella’ – a classic Darwin tulip in a lovely pale pink.

The rest of the plants I’ve chosen for foliage, so I don’t have to be dependent on bloom color.  I scrounged around in my backyard pot-pile for a hellebore, and took apart my own front-door containers to reuse some of those plants.  Everyone gets a good wash-down and a once-over for blemishes.

In which I make large pieces of wood smaller

When I initially conceived of this design, I wanted to mimic a front porch, with a glossy black door, and weathered grey shingles.  I had most of the pots, and was able to borrow a few more, and my lovely weathered bench I obtained from a friend when she downsized her garden.

But the real challenge was ensuring that I could get everything to fit in our tiny 6′ by 12′ space.  So I built a porch!  Each panel fits together to outline the space, and then an airy railing with pearl finials separates the viewer from the space without totally blocking you out.  I really love having a garage now!

walls under construction

Home stretch

Now that it’s the last week before the show, I’m fretting about having enough plants, and making sure the right things are in bloom, and finding the last tiny bits to hide throughout the containers.  I want to have little surprises throughout to keep the viewer interested and amused.

I hope you can come!  Get your show tickets here: NW Flower and Garden Show


Want more?

Check out previous years in review.

Full Plant List:

subject to change

  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’
  • Camellia japonica ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’
  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Rimpelaar’
  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’
  • Cyclamen coum
  • Cyclamen hederifolium
  • Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnburg’
  • Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno
  • Haworthia pumila
  • Hebe pimeleiodes ‘Quicksilver’
  • Helleborus lividus ‘Pink Marble’
  • Helleborus sp. Double Pink
  • Heuchera villosa ‘Black Pearl’
  • Heuchera ‘Carnival Cocomint’
  • Heuchera ‘Dark Secret’
  • Ilex ‘Little Rascal’
  • Narcissus ‘Thalia’
  • Muscari ‘Pink Sunrise’
  • Senecio candicans ‘Angel Wings’
  • Senecio rowleyanus ‘String of Pearls’
  • Tulipa ‘Gabriella’
  • Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Pink Icing’ – Broke apart during installation; rot at soil level

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