Greenhouse Inspiration: UW Botany Greenhouse


Over the Summer we were able to go on a tour of the greenhouses at the University of Washington. As expected the inside was full of amazing colors, textures and things that you may have a hard time believing is a plant. Greenhouses that you pass on a daily basis always have a little extra mystery to them; you can get glimpses of what could be inside but never really know until you get to go inside and look up close.

When we were making the greenhouse gingerbread house, we definitely used some of the details that we saw in the greenhouses as inspiration for the plants that we created for inside the greenhouse. We were lucky to get the chance to tour the greenhouse, because UW is in the process of building a new facility, so we were able to get some of that history that we love so much in the Logee's greenhouses. 

This one is in an academic setting, so there isn't as much of the neat overgrowth as there is at Logee's, but what it lacks in disheveled majesty it makes up for in unique specimens. The plants have had a long time to grow and each room has specific temperature and humidity profile. Its really a 4-D experience to walk into a room and not only see the amazing plants but immediately feel the affect of the heat and moisture. The diversity of the plants makes so much sense when you can approximate the conditions that it would naturally grow in.

I think our next trip will be to the Conservatory at Volunteer Park, which we hear is pretty spectacular. What greenhouses have you seen and would recommend a visit to?

Greenhouse inspiration: Logee's

This year we decided to take on a pretty big challenge in creating a Gingerbread house in the shape of a Green house. Before we do the big reveal we want to share a couple of the greenhouses that we've seen that inspired culinary version that we made this year.

Logee's is one of the most special man-made places I have ever been; of course it has had an awful lot of help from plants. Logee's Greenhouses are in Danielson, Connecticut and exist as an arm of their retail store. You can also buy plants  from them online or through their catalog, but plopped down in Connecticut are 5 greenhouses that are filled with great plants.

TERRACOTTA Pots ENGULFED by a root ball

TERRACOTTA Pots ENGULFED by a root ball

 Logee's specializes in unique plants, and walking up and down th aisles is a one of a kind experience. Textures and layers of plants in every color and type will greet you on your explorations around their William Logee opened his greenhouse in 1892 and started collecting plants. Some of those plants are still in the greenhouse from the early days (think 1900) and add to the ambiance and the lush feel that can only come from plants that have been around for a long time and have had a chance to fully engulf the space that they are in.

I had quite a collection of Logee's plants that I gave away when we moved and I never see those types anywhere else. Since we moved, they are dispersed to many of my friends and I hope they are enjoying them as much as I did. If or when we move back east I am going to make a beeline back to Logee's for the wave of feeling you get in prescence of old, amazing plants, and take home a carload!

Contrast in your Container Garden

How do you choose your plant combinations? I think the number one rule is variety; variety of all different types: color, height, leaf shape, plant shape, and plant density. Nothing can stand out if it is surrounded by only similar objects. Planting all tall, skinny, grass-like plants that are the same shade of green is not going to look as impressive as if you change only one of the parameters. A grouping of grasses of a similar height but different colors is going to be more eye-catching. 

So what plants did I choose? Today I am showing you the plants I bought at Swansons, what groupings I placed them in, and why I chose the plants to begin with.

Container One

Pocahontas Penstemon

I chose this plant for its wide, purplish leaves. In the early spring this plant sends up stalks with lavender flowers that hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees love. We'll have to look for them next spring! In the meantime, this serves as a good anchor plant for this container, dominating in height, leaf size, and leaf color.

Lamb's Ear "Silver Carpet"

It is hard to deny the fantastic texture that lambs ear has. The fuzzy leaves add interest and texture to any garden. I also love the dusty sage color; it serves as great contrast to the Penstemon leaves, in just about every aspect.

Diamond Heights California Lilac

And now for the punch of color! This plant has a great, bright, color, with dark green details. It is also a low lying choice, that will spill over the edge of our containers. This one attracts bees and butterflies, and is resistant to deer, not that we have that problem on the second floor!  The only down side for this plant is that it isn't always hardy in our climate. It will all depend on how mild the winter is.

This one contrasts the other selections in color, leaf size and texture, height, and growing pattern. The penstemon and lambs ear provide the complex but reserved backdrop for the bright green stunner, that will spill over the edge of the planter as the summer goes on.


Hello, little bee!

Container Two


As the second planting, I went for a little grouping of terra-cotta pots. When thinking about the future of my porch, it is most likely that I will just keep adding terra cotta pots, and smaller groupings to the collection, this is just the logical beginning. Multiple pots add a statement, in a more cost effective, and transportable way than it would if I bought larger, statement planters.

Blackbird Penstemon

To start with some height, I chose a different variety of Penstemon, this one is called Blackbird Penstemon. It has larger, taller, flowers. This one is also great for wildlife. I liked this variety for its height, color, and spindly nature. Just look at those twisty tops!

Silver Bush, Cushion Bush  (Calocephalus brownii)

This plant was just so unique, I couldn't resist it! It's made up of little white twigs, which contrast in color and texture to all of the other plants we purchased. The white color, and bushy shape stand out amongst the group.


Stonecrop, Sedum makinoi "Limelight"

Good old stonecrop, a great spreader and easy to establish. I chose this one for it's tendency to spill over the edges. It has great color, and juicy leaves. The stems contrast nicely too!

Wooly Thyme

So fuzzy, so tiny! I paired this one with stonecrop in a shallow pot, both spread along the top, and their roots don't extend too deep into the soil. Again, the fuzzy texture adds a touch detail and interest to the composition.

Two More Sedums

I told you i was excited about them in the last post, so I bought three! Just look at the variety amongst them, in color, height, texture; they really have it all (the third is the stonecrop, listed up above).


Sedum telephium "Chocolate Drop"

Dark, glossy leaves, and a commanding height called me over to this beauty. I chose this one for its ability to make a statement. This is in the same height range as the Silver Bush, but has so many differences that they stand out against each other.


Sedum Kamtschaticum "The Edge"

This one is special enough to have a pot all to its self! I like the growth pattern of the leaves, and the irregular edges of the leaves. It also has a nice, bright, green that related to the stonecrop and the California Lilac, tying them all together. It is just about to bloom with bright, yellow flowers too.

Those are all the plants that I got this time. I think it is a good starting pint, with a nice variety and contrast.

Now, truth circle time. I went against the advice I've been offered and bought a tomato plant at the farmers market this past weekend. We shall see how that goes. It has been uncharacteristically warm here for the past week or so, I figure we can give it a whirl.

Happy Gardening! and Happy 4th of July, we hope you have a fun Holiday!