April 4, 2017

How to Grow and Force Perfect Belgian Endive

Step-by-step guide on how-to raise and force your own Belgian Endive from seed in your home garden.

Since I have bit more time while being laid off for the summer and deciding what to do next with my life, I am beginning a series on raising garden plants from seed. For now, I will categorize these under "How to Grow...." although, these will be more like "How to Master" series. I hope that you will find these to be a little more useful than most posts that begin with "How to grow..."found elsewhere on the Internet not that there isn't an audience for "hacks" and "DIY" posts but most are over-simplified, and reduced down to "just sow the seeds!" - I want to offer posts that are a bit more useful than that.

Since I am a 'foodie' and not one to shy away for a challenge in the garden, I want to offer advice and guidelines on raising unusual vegetables (and flowers) - particularly ones which are either expensive in the market, or hard-to-find at nurseries and garden centers or even just crops which are often overlooked on other sites. This is how I came to growing Belgian Endive - I buy it often, as it is something I love to make winter salads with and cook with, braising it with bacon and chicken broth but more than anything else, at nearly $5.00 a pound, I know that it is expensive. 

A good sign that I probably write about raising Belgian Endive on this blog is that whenever I Google for HOW TO GROW BELGIAN ENDIVE, it's mostly my photos come up! - Sadly, often on other sites like this, or this site, or this one. They either get my photos from Flkr, or from an old eHow post I once did.  I am realizing that now that I have more time, I might as well begin posting more 'useful How To' posts as I can show both before and after shots, as well as actual "in the garden' images - something which is so  - well, it's what I do, right?

So why are more people not raising Belgian Endive? 
Well, OK, first, it's Belgian Endive, and even trying to get the cashier at the supermarket using the correct code can be a challenge, but if you are a foodie, you know why. Yet growing it oneself is a completely different matter.  The truth is, that to this day, I have met not a single person who has either raised their own Belgian Endive or forced it (aside from the great Roger Swain from the TV show 'The Victory Garden' who mentioned to me a couple of years ago that he wonders why folks are not raising their own old fashioned forcing vegetables, as well as admitting to me that he is an avid blog follower (nice, right?).

If you've never thought about raising Belgian endive, why not consider it this year? A few rows near the edge of the garden will require little care aside from digging up in the autumn to re-pot for forcing, and given that it is one of the costliest vegetables to buy, it's like growing a luxury item - and one which will be superior in quality to anything bought.

The answer may be a simple one - no one knows how.  Belgian Endive thus perfect for the first in this series, because more likely than not, you are not going to find chicons grown locally sold at your farmstand or  find local ones at your farmer market, and you definitely are not going to find seedlings at your local nursery (nor should you as it must be sown where it must grow). 

Belgian Endive may be expensive and its culture seems challenging, but I am going to show you how in many ways, it can be the easiest vegetable crop to grow. That's right, the easiest.

First, lets get the basics out of the way.

Seed - I used a name F1 hybrid called 'Totum' also available as organic seed, available from Johnny's Selected Seeds, as well as other sources. You can choose an un-named old variety too (usually its sold simply as Witloof Chocory).

Soil - Nothing fancy here, but if you research you may find some contradiction in on-line cultural advice in regards to soil. The goal here is to grow large thick roots (not branched ones or multiple root - you want to be able to harvest a carrot-shaped or parsnip shaped root), so rocks are to to avoided, as is a rich, nitrogen-rich soils or any fertilizer high in nitrogen. Commercial growers may add additional superphosphate, muriate of Potash and magnesium (as Epsom Salt) to avoid strong foliar growth) but I would suggest just sowing in place (remember, they are tap-rooted so no transplanting!).

Thin seedlings in-place  Thin your seedlings to 6 inches, do not transplant and you will need the roots to be straight. Aside from identifying what your seedlings look like, (hint - dandelions) let nature do the rest for the rest of the summer(Chicory is a common weed remember? You are not going to have a problem getting them to grow, I promise). 

On Forcing - In realize that the entire process here may seem complex (just think of it requiring 3 stages). Raising what will look like lettuce plants in the gardens, digging the roots in the autumn, and then forcing the roots indoors which just means bringing the potted roots into a warm, dark place.

With Belgian Endive, success is really all about how well one can raise thick roots. Poor soil, or soil which has low nitrogen or organic matter is helpful. A dry summer if often beneficial as well, to cause roots to drive deeper in search of water. Our soil is rich, but consistently moist which perhaps is ideal rather than dryness, then watering followed by drought again, with can cause splitting. Additional magnesium and low nitrogen was key here.

Materials - The most critical tool you will need is a good forcing container, and perhaps finding a dark space ( or blackout cloth). The best container will be smaller than you think, just wide enough to hold all the roots you are growing if tightly packed in.  Imagine taking a bag of carrots and setting them into a pot  - 5 lbs will fill something like a 10 inch clay pot. So no need for a big box or a large container. The bigger the container, the greater the risk of the roots decaying. Just a bit of soil surrounding the roots is all that is needed.

I use clay long toms for 3 or 4 8 foot rows will yield just enough roots to fill four 10 inch long toms. Your forcing container should be mostly roots set in shoulder to shoulder otherwise you risk decay if there needs to be too much growing medium.

Now, Relax - this is totally doable.  You can do it. Trust me. I grow and force Belgian Endive every year, and not only is is something most people can do, it is fun to watch them grow, and more fun to eat. They also happen to be beautiful when forced in pots, and nothing impresses guests more than a pot of forced endive in January - especially as a hostess gift!

Sow Belgian Endive seeds thinly, an inch or two apart in late spring to early summer in USDA Zone 5b.

1. Direct Sow Belgian Endive where they are to grow.  (and later than you might think).
 This was the first mistake I made - sowing Belgian Endive in the early spring, 'just as the soil can be worked' I was told. My crop grew fine, I should add, and by October a healthy crop of roots was harvested, but this year I am trying a crop from a later sowing, as it promises a better quality root.

Seed can be difficult to find, I grew Totum, an F1 hybrid available from Johnny's Selected Seed ad elsewhere, which is the premier selection at the moment. An older strain or selection which may be easier to source is 'Witloof di Bruxelles' 'Perlita'. Many seed catalogs simply market Belgian Endive under the name 'Witloof Chicory', ('Witloof' meaning 'White-leaf').

Avoid sowing seed too early, as in some areas, the roots can 'bolt' or go to seed if temperature and moisture shifts occur and tricks the plant (it's a biennial) into thinking that two growing seasons have passed). Commercial growers have the best success from crops sown in late June, although in New England, seed can be sown as early as late March if one is sure that cold weather won't return in May or June. Always a risk, but I personally prefer to take a chance on the longer growing season versus the risk of premature bolting. It's your choice.

Belgian Endive will grow all summer long, looking like their relative, the dandelion. Keep weeds clear and nitrogen levels low for the deepest and thickest roots.

2. Summer Care is easy. Remember, these are basically dandelions, so growth and vigor in any soil isn't usually a problem. Drought isn't necessarily a bad thing, as one wants long tap roots. If anything, rich soil can cause multiple and branched roots which is not idea. Throughout summer, keep weeded and perhaps mulched with straw or something porous, but I prefer open soil so that the plants can dry out between rain storms. Seedlings have been thinned to about 6 inches apart, but as you can see, a few other weeds and plants are closely planted. This didn't appear to affect my plant vigor, but I could have been more careful and prudent with my weeding to allow more sunshine to reach the plants. Ideally, the distance between rows should be 24 - 36 inches to allow massive foliar growth.

Belgian Endive roots, when properly grown are thick and solid not unlike carrots or parsnips. If some produce multiple roots, trim them down to a single, thick root. Discard those that have many small roots. One needs a thick crown (about an inch in diameter) to be able to produce nice chicons (sprouts). These were sown in mid April, but a later sowing is recommended for better root thickness, I will be sowing mine in June this year.

3. In late autumn carefully dig the roots

You may read on-line that Belgian Endive is grown hydroponically, but this is incorrect. Commercial growers field raise their stock, harvest the tap roots carefully (like carrots) and then ether store them dark and dry, or they set them into crates or special containers where they then are hydroponically forced.

At home, this is unnecessary. All one needs to do is to carefully dig roots just before a hard frost (around here, this is near Halloween but could be as late as mid November). Roots must be repotted unless one has a proper root cellar in which to store them until they are ready to force, but who has a root cellar? For the average home grower,  the roots only need a bit of pre-treatment to prepare them for forcing. The thin tips of the roots can be trimmed, but only to allow them to fit into the forcing container - one wants the tops to sit at the same height.
Well grow roots should be thick as small parsnips or bog carrots, with little to no branching.

The forcing container can be any deep container, a deep 5 gallon nursery pot, a bakery bucket, an orange Home Depot bucket, or a deep clay long-tom. If your roots are branched, trim them down to a single root (a double one is OK). Trim the foliage off of the top (a 'hair cut' to about an inch away from the crown), and then set the roots shoulder-to-shoulder tight together in your container. The medium can be sharp sand (something that drains well), vermiculite or potting soil - I use sterile Pro-Mix commercial potting soil.

The roots should extend about an inch above the surface, perhaps a bit more. Don't worry, they won't look very promising at this stage, but believe me, magic will happen soon. Water slightly, one only wants damp medium, as the roots won't require much water as you will need to keep them cold, and one will want to avoid decay.

Roots are trimmed a bit, and set side-by-side in a deep pot, and stored cold until ready to force.

4. Vernalize roots for one month in cold temps

I store my potted roots in the greenhouse under the bench where it is cold (near 45 degrees) but you may find that a cold, dark place in the garage or cellar will work better. If you cannot find a cold place, you should wash the roots off and keep them in the crisper drawer wrapped in newspaper until ready to force. A few weeks of cold will help vernalize them, which is necessary for proper chicon production. Chicons are what the French call the golden white buds we all know as Belgian Endive.

Some people store their unwashed roots in a cold shed or garage under burlap bags or in a wooden box with soil in it. Much like forcing Dutch bulbs, the roots need a bit of cold to believe that they have survived a winter and that it is time to grow again.

After two weeks in a warm, dark closet indoors, chicons one these Belgian Endive roots are ready to harvest. I cut them off carefully, and store them in the refrigerator (or use them in salads), and then force a second crop, again in complete darkness, which will produce a crop of looser leaves, but still useful in the kitchen.

5. Force potted roots in a warm, completely dark place.

After a month (or more) of cold exposure (just above freezing is ideal) the pots can be brought into the house to force - but here, it's easier than you might think. Unlike bulbs, Endive likes to be forced warm - but, in utter darkness, for even a crack pot light will make them turn green and bitter. It might be harder than you think to find a warm, dark place in your home. I struggled for a bit, but ended up finding that the upstairs cellarway was the warmest part, as in the winter, our cellar is still too cold. Other places that have worked are a closet, especially in an upstairs bedroom.

Darkness and warmth however an pose a problem - mold. I discovered this one year because I thought that a black plastic garbage bag might work perfectly, but even though it was held away from the sprouts with bamboo canes, I still had some mold. Mice to because a problem (yes, we have mice in the bedrooms - - 100 year old house, remember), but the cellar way for us, worked best.

Keep an eye out on the pots, as sprouts (Chicons) can emerge quickly, but here is the best part - the flavor and quality of home grown Belgian Endive made the little work involved so worth it. Imagine the crispiest iceberg lettuce you've ever had, with little fiber or bitterness. Sweet, crispy and really - so much fun to force that I will never be without 5 or 8 pots each winter.

A second crop will produce smaller leaves. but even the loose leaves of the third crop makes the entire process worth while. I can't over emphasize the quality and benefits here. Not the cost savings, although there is - (who worries about the cost of Belgian Endive!), this is all about the experience.

It's not too late to order seeds, or to plan where your might grow your crop. An edge of the garden is fine, as then plants literally require so little labor throughout the entire summer. Hoeing once or twice perhaps, and that's it. The only labor (again) is digging the roots and storing them - what's so hard about that?

March 27, 2017

The Philadelphia Flower Show - Part 2: Horticulture

Dendrobiums can be so impressive when allowed to grow to a large size, this Dendrobium delicatum (or perhaps Dendrobium x Delicatum) raised by talented gifted grower David Fischer is just another one of the massive Australian species of dendrobium (which I love, ever since mastering the culture of D. speciosum). This is presumed to be a natural cross between D. tarberi and the common D. kingianum and one can see the resemblence.

While the landscape and design installations at the Philadelphia Flower Show provided theater for the crowds of people coming to see bold bedding schemes and mass-effect displays of spring bulbs, where the show really delivered for me was in the category of horticulture - in particular, the amateur horticulture (which seems like a silly term when on thinks about the many excellent specimens grown by knowledgeable enthusiasts and horticulturists at this show), but this show has a history of attracting some of the finest growers in the North East and Mid Atlantic who bring their most choice orchids, alpine and cacti to name a few, to display and to win ribbons and awards.

As if a designer went crazy, this almost unbelievable plant is an orchid - Oberonia setigera raised and entered by Christopher Satch, of the Rutgers Alumni Growers & Exhibitors.


Good flower shows are ideal places for seeing rare or unusual plants, and I can't help myself when I see a plant that is new to me. A few years ago while visiting the Tokyo Dome to see the World Orchid Congress exhibition, I left with a short list of orchids that I had to track down ( and, I few I did such as the massive Dendrobium speciosum which is in bud in my greenhouse right now - and could grow as large as my greenhouse!), but the Dendrobium x delicatum (seen above) is now tops on my must-get list. It's always a danger adding to ones must-get list when visiting a good flower show!

So, beginning with orchids here, I began building said wish list - because the horticulture at the Philadelphia Flower Show is so fine.

Cattlianthe 'Trick or Treat' 'Ty's Rutgers Triumph' CCE/AOS shows how crazy some orchid names can be as modern intergeneric crosses are names with variety names and awards.To simplify or translate this name a bit, Cattlianthe is a name known as a nothogenus( an inter-generic hybrid made from two distinct genus, in this case the genus Cattleya and the genus Guarianthe). Sometime, way back in this orchids history, the two genus were crossed to create Cattlianthe. 'OK, orchid 'Trick or Treat' may be a better name!

Barbara Inglessis a member of the South Jersey Orchid Society entered this beautifully specimen of Maxillaria sanguinea.

A rare and challenging to grow and force alpine, Dionysia aretioides captured plant geeks' hearts. Each  raised and entered by John F. Ray, a member of the North American Rock Garden Society.


I had heard about some of the alpine displays at the Philadelphia Flower Show, but I never expected to see what lay before me here - dionxysia's ( not the extremely challenging ones seen in the great UK shows, but any dionysia in North America is worthy enough to make headlines in any horticultural journal, surely something most show attendees here probably missed, but these little pots and troughs in the alpine classes impressed me greatly. There are some very talented alpine growers in the Philadelphia area!

I was thrilled to see that the local chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) not only had a beautiful display garden, but also one which one many top awards including the Gold Medal of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society as well as the prestigious Gold Medal of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.

The NARGS garden  was designed and built by the Delaware Valley Chapter of NARGS, their inspiration and theme was DUTCH ALLOTMENT GARDEN, and it included some lovely troughs, a small vegetable plot, flowering bulbs and a tiny homemade greenhouse often found in small European allotments. It was very popular with show visitors.

The alpine plants in the NARGS Delaware Valley Chapter was superbly grown unusual and challenging species.
Congratulation to everyone from the NARGS Delaware Valley Chapter for their huge and prestigious win at this premiere flower show!

I am guessing that some of the growers of these alpine troughs with alpine plants in the amateur category were also members of the Delaware Valley NARGS chapter - I mean, how great are these? Troughs entered by both Clifton Webb and John F. Ray took top ribbons.

This trough by John F. Ray took a few top ribbons, but most impressive were the number of entries in this category. Rock gardening is experiencing a reprise, I think.

Mr. Ray labeled each plant ( a requirement) but a map helps the viewer!

Another well planted trough with authentic and well grown alpine plants entered by John F. Ray.

The striking blossoms of Edgeworthia chrysantha on a well-branched specimen. For some reason, I can never smell the scent on these yet everyone else can. Noses can be like that sometimes!


Edgeworthia chrysantha may be fine shrub for warmer zones, but it also is growable in containers in colder, northern gardens. My plant is just beginning to bloom in the greenhouse, yet spends the summer outdoors.

Exhibitors' collections of Hoya selections and varieties show how one should grow Hoya on ring forms, and demonstrates  what a nice collection could look like. I visited Logee's greenhouses this week, but resisted. I resisted. I did. 

This inspired me to amp-up my scented geranium training skills! Come on - really? A bit of France in a pot, right? 

This pelargonium caught my attention, a rather new cultivar of the lemon scented geranium but one with very dense foliage. Entered by grower Leslie Anne Miller, the variety is a patented one often sold under the cultivar name 'Bontrosai 'or 'Lemon Sculpture' according to her label (everything at this show is properly labeled). I haven't seen this in the trade yet, but it seems to be available in the UK (it was registered in Poland).

The star of the show for many horticulturists and designers was this planting scheme by the landscape design firm TOOP, founded by Carrie Preston a New Jersey native who moved to the Netherlands.
Sometime innovative design and innovative use of horticulture combines in a magical and wonderful way. Sure, this years' show offered plenty of wow - from Sam Lemheney's fantastically designed entryway with a floating flower field illuminated with LED lights and floating above more than 30,000 fresh tulips, to  windmills, wooden shows and most ever Dutch bike found in North America, but the real star might have been this garden designed by Carrie Preston (a New Jersey native designer who decided to open her own landscape design firm in the Netherlands after spending some time there on an internship while in college. Carrie's firm  STUDIO TOOP (along with a troop of local volunteers -mostly local area plants people) created an installation entitled 'Stinze'. A breathtaking treat which shocked some attendees with its bold understatement which included a wild-inspired planting in an urban setting complete with chainlink fencing and what looked to many like a lawn or abandoned garden with a lawn which never saw a drop of Roundup. This either delighted the plantsmen, or horrified the golf enthusiast.

Carrie Preston's 'Stinze' demonstrated how a more natural inspired landscape can be both beautiful and sustainable with grasses, ground covers, self-propagating bulbs like snowdrops, narcissus, crocuses and anemone blanda. I would imagine that finding non-sterile forms might be more helpful (as ironically, most Dutch wholesaler bulb growers sell sterile, non-seeding varieties).

Later, I read that 'stinze' is a term that the Dutch use for bulbs that self-propagate over many years (kind of like our ephemerals or woodland wild flowers.).  A very smart way to establish community-like plantings, similar to what other Dutch designers are creating with perennials which is changing the way many of us design gardens. Inspired by nature, these more 'natural' plantings may look 'weedy' to those used to the neat and tidy weed-free lawns.], but these sustainable plantings are changing how many of us garden.

The color and size of these two plants stuck me - the red oxalis and the big tuberous sinningia with silvery leaves. Who needs green with colors like this? Maybe it's time to raise the bar on your houseplant selection.

Speaking of houseplants, here was a new one for me - Begonia lanceolate, an lovely specimen raised and entered by Janet Welsh of the Huntingdon Valley Garden Club.

March 15, 2017

The Philadelphia Flower Show - Part 1: Design

A carpet of tulips set along a canal bridge bedecked with even more flowers welcomes attendees at the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show - a theme this year that celebrates Dutch culture.

Although I am no stranger to spring flower shows, it's been nearly a decade since I've taken the time to attend a major one. That said, the great Philadelphia Flower Show is one I have never attended so I was looking forward to being wowed, yet half expecting disappointment. It's safe to admit that I experienced a little of both, but don't get me wrong - any disappointment comes from being over-exposed to the flower show circuit and from being a bit of a plant geek - the 'wow' here certainly delivered a punch, even to me, the most jaded of plant folk. 

The these this year was Holland, and if you know anything about flowers, you know that the Netherlands is home to the world's largest flower market, and central hub of most every plant and cut flower sold on this planet, so one would expect a virtual explosion of flowers with this theme, which is exactly what the organizers got. This years' show was Disney meets The Netherlands meets a museum installation. Even if you don't like flowers (I saw a few husbands holding their wives handbags and flowers near the ladies room checking out the bicycles suspended from the ceiling), no one could get bored with this level of display.

No detail was overlooked by the talented show designers, even underneath the bridge elaborate Dutch tile work and floral design delighted most every smart phone user.

As I mentioned earlier, I am no stranger to this phenom called 'the spring flower show'. I attended my first as a little kid, and have fond memories of riding high on my dad's shoulders in the mid 1960's looking over a sea of tulips at our local spring show then sponsored by the Worcester County Horticultural Society at Horticultural Hall. Later, I remember the excitement and anticipation attending shows int he winter at around age 10 or so. Seeing glimpses of forced branches in the windows of Horticultural Hall as snowflakes fell, was a particular memory, as is the scent of daffodils and hyacinths indoors. IN fact, attending spring flower shows was probably the most influential event when I think about what got me first so excited about plants. So, hopefully, that still happens with young people who attend these shows.

Design is often best appreciated in the details. Under this reproduction of a canal bridge, which could have so easily been left unfinished, was a thoughtful installation of delft pottery tiles and a collage of plant material. As guest passed under the bridge, it became a favorite selfie spot.

The adult me views things with that burden which experience brings - a filter of unintentional yet innate cynicism earned through either over-exposure or just desensitization. Yet even though it's sometimes hard to reach the same level of excitement over forced tulips (I can fake it, but sometimes that is just sad), this show still excited me because design was of such a high quality. Some might say that there were too many bicycles and windmills, that the Dutch wooded shoe-thing was too cliche, but I am a sucker for cliche - at least when it's designed and presented so well.

When visitors emerge from under the canal bridge, they enter this space with colorful suspended dried flowers, all illuminated with color-change lights that wowed everyone, regardless of their age or interest in flowers. It's all about the experience, right?
Attending this show is like visiting Amsterdam as well as the flower fields of the Netherlands, but also it delivers a contemporary punch with installations and techno music - not unlike an evening in a hip museum opening or even a Dutch nightclub. I do think that something from the 'Red Light' district might have rounded things out, but no one here dared go there. Clearly, this was a family event, but I think one of the design themes for floral design might have been interesting with a more 'provocative' theme.

Another view of the color installation of dried plant material and color/illumination.

This years' theme for the show is 'Holland: Flowering the World', perhaps the most delightful of flower show themes to ever work with for designers, not only because of the euro-centric possibilities, but because of Hollands strong connection to the world of ornamental horticulture. Clearly, the designers here went wild with the theme, but don't worry, there are enough windmills, bikes and wooden shoes for everyone. I never thought about it, but if you think about it - the Dutch windmills were perhaps the first sustainable source of energy creation -how time cycles around, could have been an equally effective theme.

Another installation inspired by the White Bike Revolution or White Bicycle Plan in the 1960's - a radical revolution important in the contemporary narrative of Amsterdam. You can learn more about it here. Or here.http://dangerousminds.net/comments/the_white_bicycle_revolution All I know, is that this installation was beautiful with it's white painted bikes and flowers.

The bike motif was everywhere, but treated in clever and unique ways.

I appreciated the mix of contemporary art and installation along with the classic and old. If you've ever visited Amsterdam you can appreciate the old, but the rest of the Netherlands is so contemporary, the show here crafted a nice mix of the two.

I liked these Heineken bottles along with a photo backdrop of Amsterdam, and not just because it's my fav beer - (I do like my skunk beer in green bottles!), but the floral design and wood work was nice as well.
The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society puts on this show, which is the nations longest running horticultural event. It runs until March 19th at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

As in any flower show, there were modern arrangements, and classic ones. And then, some were just there to impress.

I appreciated the mass plantings. In the 1970's and 1980 when I would help install spring displays in high school and college, gradually greenhouse raised sod as a ground cover was replaced with Michigan Peat, because it was dark and brown. Eventually, the wood chip and shredded & dreaded bark mulch became omnipresent. Here, not even a whiff of bark mulch - in any display! Just massed bulbs because that's what we want to see in March when it is snowing. Abundant and ridiculously dense plantings of bulbs because -- we can do it when it's fake and someone else is paying for it!

Garden designer Carrie Preston's. a New Jersey born designer who moved to the Netherlands 18 years ago created a display entitled 'Stinz '. It stole the show for many of us with its natural planting scheme. Other leading Dutch designers were featured in the show as well including Bart Hoes, Nico Wissing, and Bart Bresser.

The inspiration this show provides to attendees is broad, with modern concepts presented such as Carrie Preston's 'Stinze' a naturalized planting which she explained as being inspired by the gardens that surround the more stately manor houses in the northern part of the Netherlands. Her design was a contemporary interpretation of these gardens, but I feel that most people just loved the natural style and look which some may have interpreted as 'wild'.

To the uninformed, this design felt realistic if not meadow-like. I knew from social media images that the entire project was only completed the night before, but even then, it was hard to imagine that every plant was just a day or two ago, in a plastic liner or pot. The magic of spring flower shows in capable hands, indeed!

The 'Stinze' display looked as if it was planted years ago by mother nature. So natural in fact that it was hard to believe that it was completed the evening before.

I loved these Fatshedra standards - an idea that I may steal for myself! 

I thought that this design using bicycle parts as a bridge railing was an innovative way to recycle, or 'up-cycle'? (sorry!).

In this spring show, don't expect the ordinary (nor bark mulch, forsythias or anything 'easy to force'. Instead expect unusual plantings that look natural, perennials and biennials that look as if they were plucked from a June garden, and leave with ideas, inspiration and some hope that spring isn't that far away.

In the next post I will share some images from the 'Horticulture' section of the show.