Proven Winners: Outdoor Living Extravaganza!


Over the weekend, I made my way back down to the Seattle area for the Outdoor Living Extravaganza, a retreat and seminar with Proven Winners! I seriously debated not attending this event. My schedule has been crazy lately, with my Master Gardener class starting to wrap up. Almost all my spare time is devoted to studying. (I’ll let you in on a not so secret *secret*, I’m all in knots about the test. Some days I feel ready, other, so massively overwhelmed. My brain is holding a lot of information, now hopefully it all sticks!)

For all of these reasons, I was encouraged by my sweet husband to go anyways. To take a break from my grind and enjoy myself. Did I ever marry the right man or what?

While confirming that he understood what he was getting into with the 3 kids and all their assorted schedules and classes for the day, I took my cue and hit the road.

Was I ever glad I did! The seminar was being held at the beautiful and picturesque,  Golf Club at Newcastle. No better way to start the morning than a cup of coffee in hand and these magnificent views!

Back inside, I was checking out the plants and having a great time getting to know some online faces in person! My seat mate @GlassGardenNW (have you met Barbara?) is a fellow tweeter from the North West. If you didn’t get a chance to follow our tweets during the event, you can still check them out via Twitter, under the hashtag #OLESEA.

They had a power packed speakers list, who were all very informative and lively. We had a wild good time! Their ranks included;

Rick Schoellhorn, Proven Winners, Director of New Products. Who spoke passionately about the need to get younger people interested in gardening. To pass down our love and knowledge in the garden. As a mother of young children, this really hit home with me. I spend a great amount of time and energy making sure to incorporate my kids in the garden. I share his desire to see our youth pick up the trowel, so to speak. He also visited the top plants of this year and gave us a sneak peek at what’s coming up next year! What teased my palette? Well alright…. since you asked so nicely!

My Hit List for 2011!

#1 Angel Face Blue Improved, Angelonia hybrid. Works well as a summer snapdragon, but blooms continually throughout the sun and the heat. As a bonus, it smells like grape soda!

#2 Colorblaze Alligator tears, Coleus. This one is all about the foliage, which it rocks the socks off of! It can be planted in sun or shade, and isn’t as much of a brute as other Coleus can be. As Rick so aptly put it, “This one has manners”.

#3 Superbells Blackberry Punch, Calibrachoa hybrid. A rich velvety black throat, surrounded by deep grape petals. Are you intrigued yet? I loved the blk petunias I got my hands on last year. These sun lover promise to be a special treat for us purple freaks!

#4 Superbells Coralberry Punch, Calibrachoa hybrid. I had the distinct pleasure of bringing this one back with me. I am looking forward to it’s bold blast of coral colour bringing light to my pots. It is also a full sun flower, that becomes fairly drought tolerant once established!

#5 Lucia Lavender Blush, Lobelia erinus. Has such beautiful dainty little flower, a perfusion of petals. This one carries an understated elegant look. I can’t wait to find the perfect turquoise pot for this pt sun to sun plant!

Willi Galloway the brains and brawn behind the blog DigginFood brought art to the vegetable gardens by showing us how to utilize our crops to not only be harvested, but also to give us beauty and colour at the same time. The importance of structure and architectural beauty in our gardens. How artichoke,  Scarlet runner beans and Trombeta summer squash bring height, colour and interest into an everyday vegetable bed. I loved some of her simple ideas to engage kids, like painting bamboo poles in bright cheery colours to draw them toward the plants. I also learned about a few crops that are big draws to beneficial insects, like Sweet Alyssum and Anise Hyssop.

After Willi spoke we broke for lunch. Quite timely, given all the talk of vegetables had me day dreaming of food. We were taken to a large heated outdoor tent for a full catered lunch. It was stunning! I can see why Newcastle is a hot spot for weddings.

We enjoyed a tasty salad, a delicious chicken and vegetable main course, and a decadent cheesecake for desert with our coffee. I know it’s not proper, but I was just wondering, if these people could come home and cook for me?

It was that good.

Back to the seminar! Marshal Dirks, head of Marketing for Proven Winners was giving away prizes as they waited for everyone to return from lunch! There was a little bit of everything on their table. Self watering planters, hoses, fertilizer, Corona hand tools. It was a gardeners dream!

Christina Salwitz was next up. Christina goes by many titles, @Arcadia1 was how I first met her, although her formal title as the Personal Garden Coach is probably how she’s best known. Christina has a way about her that makes you feel that you’ve known her forever. Sure she was speaking to a room full of people, but her talk resonates with the individual.  Her garden philosophy balances around the idea that any planting should be 2/3 deciduous to 1/3 evergreen. With this balance you get a garden full of interest through the year, when gardens around you are looking a little sad, your is still looking awesome! She spoke on the importance of foliage, and gave me a whole host of plants that I’m now coveting.

Marianne Binetti was the final speaker. A garden author, she travels to some of the worlds most beautiful gardens, breaking down the components for the average gardener. I loved her fascination with empty pots, and how they can add to and change a landscape. She is quite an energetic and thoughtful speaker. I can imagine she would be a lot of fun to travel with. If your looking for a great gardening escape, make sure to check out her website for her next trip to some exotic garden or another!

The fun was capped off with a goody bag as we left. Chalk full of surprises, they held seed balls, gardening magazines, fertilizers, a Corona spade with a serrated edge, and a host of other bits. I’m still finding things in that bag!

It was a whirlwind of a day! Thank you Proven Winners for all the fun! I sure hope we get to do this again next year!


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9 comments on “Proven Winners: Outdoor Living Extravaganza!

  1. Barbara Sanderson on said:

    It was so great to meet and spend time with you at this event Laura! You captured the day so well in your blog too! Thanks for sharing!

    • Laura on said:

      Hi seatmate! It was great to meet and chat last week! You never know how it’s going to go when you head out to one of these things by yourself. I was so lucky to have such wonderful people to meet and spend the day with! When your in town next let me know, and we’ll meet up downtown!

  2. Christina Salwitz on said:

    I’m so happy that you made time in your big schedule to come all the way down and have fun with us at the event!
    You did a wonderful job Tweeting and this post is laid out beautifully. If I wasn’t there, I would certainly feel like I got a great idea about how much I missed from you! Great work.
    On your Master Gardener’s test, NO WORRIES! I have taken some very tough exams for licensing and such, I thought I would do horribly and ended finishing and passing in record time. You’ll be great!

    • Laura on said:

      It was great to finally meet you Christina! If you ever in town, give me a call! We should meet for coffee and scones at VanDusen!

  3. Lori E on said:

    One day I bought some plants at the local centre and as usual I didn’t really have any place in particular to put them. I just buy what I like and then find it a home. I didn’t notice it at first but when I got home and opened the back up I saw the Angel Face Blue Angelonia pushed up close to a pale yellow Cape Fuchsia and it was perfection. Such a perfect match that I probably would never have come up with on my own.
    Good luck on the test. I’ll bet that you will do just fine.

  4. meemsnyc on said:

    What an amazing event! So cool

  5. Pingback: Proven Winners Trial Garden 2011 | The Dandelion Wrangler

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