What to grow?

January is the month of seed catalogs and research for what to grow in the upcoming seasons. I keep a running list of plants that caught my interest the previous year, thumb through books and review Pinterest to pull together my order list. We have the benefit of a greenhouse and production fields that allow us to grow more unique varieties or nurture plants for a longer period to get items that are not easily available.


Cut Flower Inspiration:

I am currently researching what to grow on Red Twig Farms for the local flower markets. Our production fields currently produce peonies, dahlias, french pussy willows, alliums, ornamental branches and berries. We are looking for items more grand than zinnias and sunflowers, but will continue the cut from the garden feeling. My search for options normally starts on our bookshelf and our collection of flower specific books. Our cut flower specific books are a lot smaller than the garden design and plant tomes, and includes some rather older books as well as recent releases.

books to inspire growing flowers


Seedheads in the Garden. By Noel Kingsbury

Lee Bailey’s Country Flowers. By Lee Bailey

Bringing Nature Home. By Ngoc Minh Ngo

Flowers Rediscoveredby Madderlake, Tom Pritchard, Billy Jarecki, and Allen Boehmer

Flower Design. By Bridget von Boch

Living Color. By Paula Pryke

A Passion for Flowers. Carolyne Roehm

To Have & To Hold. by David Stark and Avi Adler

Fresh Cuts. Ken Druse, Edwina Van Cal and John M. Hall

The Flower Recipe Book. Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo




Also under the work on Red Twig Farms, we are growing specimen trees and shrubs. While I was in Belgium I was inspired by the nurseries and how in land much smaller than what we have, were growing amazing trees that they spent years training. This summer I ordered a truck of young Carpinus betulus  (European Hornbeam) that I am in the process of training in shapes and allee forms. I am looking forward to the time and training that goes into creating the art forms. I am working on a post about this tree as a Plant ID, which will include all the tree’s details.



Plants for Container Designs:

If you looked at our online portfolio of work you see that we do a lot of container designs.(http://mccland.com/Portfolio/3)  We have fun with this type of work because given its seasonal nature and small investment, we can experiment with different plant combos and go for big impact by playing with color, texture and height. I really think my best inspiration is travel, a change of scenery goes a long way in taking your imagination down a different, maybe more inspired path.  I had a chance to listen to Dan Benarcik, from the famed Chanticleer Garden (http://www.chanticleergarden.org/), this past Sunday at the Perennial Plant Association P.L.A.N.T. seminar in Columbus OH.  Dan gave a truly inspiring talk on his sources of creativity……and it was like he was speaking directly to me.  He too confides in his travels for a creative reset….If you have a chance to hear Dan talk, do not hesitate- you will not be disappointing.  When I travel I use my camera as my journal.  Click away, you never know when you might need a creative jump start.

Chanticleer Gardens, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Some of Dan’s work from a visit to Chanticleer Gardens a number of years ago I still draw inspiration from…

Chanticleer Gardens, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Mixed tropical and grass plantings at behind a boxwood hedge and Chanticleer.

Chanticleer Gardens, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Golden hops trained on steel cages in a central courtyard at Chanticleer.

Thomas Hobbs private garden outside Vancouver, BC.  Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Planters from Thomas Hobbs private garden outside Vancouver BC.

swirled heather planting and cobble stone, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


A swirled planting of heather and a cobble stone path outside Vancouver, BC

Nicotiana and Cleome at Butchard Gardens, BC. Thinking Outside the Boxwood



Massed Nicotiana and and Cleome at Butchard Gardens Brentwood Bay, BC


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