Northwest Flower & Garden Show

The Gardens


The display gardens are the heart and soul of all world-class flower shows. Thank you to Marenakos Rock Center and Sawdust Supply for partnering with us to help build the gardens.  Every year for 25 years they have been right there with us helping create these beautiful gardens.  Marenakos Rock Center provides the stone and big boulders you see throughout the gardens.  Sawdust Supply provides the foundation of any healthy garden, mulch.  Without good soil, we would not have beautiful gardens.

We also owe a “thank you” to the Students at Lake Washington Institute of Technology Environmental Horticulture Program for their many hours of volunteer time helping construct the gardens.



2014 Garden Creators

Below is a full list of the 2014 Garden Creators, with pictures and awards. For information about each award, please visit our Awards page and scroll to the bottom.




50 Shades of Orchids

silverA giant “painter’s palette” is the backdrop for a colorful array of orchids where showgoers can enjoy an up-close look—and a photo opportunity—with these tropical beauties.  Flowering orchids are showcased in a rainbow fashion, with colors suffused into one another; and oversized glass “orchid blooms” complete the palette imagery. Appropriately, tropical foliage frames the floral presentation.  The all-volunteer organization behind this garden benefits from its collaboration with multiple organizations and show sponsors in staging this stunning display.

Inspirations to take home: orchid flowers here are not forced nor altered in any way…this is their natural and normal bloom time




A Conduction of Vigorous Immersion – Seattle’s Best Artists Enhance Your Flow

bronzeArt comes in many forms here: an integration of fire and water features, sculptures and hand-blown glass pieces, and accessibility to “enhance the flow” of movement throughout the garden.  Topped with a steel and glass sculpture, a tumbling waterfall is bordered by a living wall of plants and hand-blown glass orchids. A lazy river spilling into a reflection pond is highlighted by a five-foot-high natural gas-fueled “Bubbler Fire” feature.  Art meets automation in this garden, with stairs transformed into an access ramp so those with limited mobility may view the entire garden from the deck.

Inspirations to take home: mechanized deck features; ADA-compliant access





ART-itecture for Urban Wildlife

gold_medalIn this urban yard, artwork creates dynamic interplay with humans and wildlife.  With an architectural pool and garden shed providing a partial backdrop, bold colors give this garden a vibrant feel. Low maintenance plants flaunt their winter form and color. Shrubs, sedums, heathers, perennials and bulbs provide a textural tapestry that highlights art and creates a haven for urban wildlife.  To attract feathered friends to this in-city oasis, twelve unique birdhouses each perch atop painted wood poles. For a touch of realism in the show’s setting, hand-crafted ceramic birds sit in as models for the real thing.

Inspirations to take home: functional bird houses elevated to an art form




Awakened Inspiration

bronzeThis timeless garden conveys passion and imagination to inspire any artist.  The tone is set with an elegant travertine patio set in a French pattern inlayed with stone. An intriguing courtyard encompasses a recessed seating area of flagstone and mosaic pebble, and its surrounding wall creates a raised flower bed providing both color and privacy.  Fanciful water features pop up among stone work and plantings, including an inverted fountain paired with traditional version, and a dancing glass float fountain that creates a chime-like melody.  Artwork in various mediums on display include paintings, and glass and metal sculptures—including a school of fabricated metal fish…perhaps migrating between the fountains?

Inspirations to take home: creative use of newly-introduced garden wall products.




Circles All Around Us

bronzeWhite flowers, variegated foliage in white, and white containers provide a simple yet striking backdrop for a collector’s garden art—creatively enhanced with a “circle” theme.  Iron circles form wall pieces behind the circular patio, fronted by a six-foot vertical iron ring with a sculpture of iron rings within. Ornamental blown glass objects surround this centerpiece and throughout the garden.  Plants were selected in keeping with the theme: plants round in shape, or with round leaves or flowers.  We are also taking liberty with the circle shape as a sphere, so there will be flowers and containers in that shape.   

Inspirations to take home: adherence to theme for a striking impression



Darwin’s Muse – Art Imitating Life

Recipient of the Fred Palmer Garden Creator’s Award

gold_medalThis garden’s theme—and an impressive blown glass Darwin Orchid displayed therein—stems from Charles Darwin’s hypothesis that there had to be a moth physically capable of drinking nectar from its flower. It was fulfilled in 1907 with the discovery of a subspecies of the gigantic Congo moth from Madagascar.

Other fine art pieces—colorful blown glass Pitcher plants (by the same noted artist) are suspended in the garden ponds, dramatically accented by low voltage lighting. A water wall, pond, native stone and divas of the plant world complete this eye-catching setting.

Inspirations to take home: it’s not the material you use, but how you use it to create a great design.




In Our Hands

silverArt is used to harmoniously combine multiple garden concepts into a striking display, supported with a message of environmental awareness.From the circular, palm-like patio, five fingers emanate to small gardens of various styles: Northwest, Japanese, Asian Tropical, Waterwise/Drought Tolerant, and English Country. Recycled materials, hardy native plants and edible varieties are incorporated liberally throughout to underscore environmental awareness and stewardship.
Of note is a stunning ceramic mosaic depicting an elliptical rendition of the Earth; when viewed through a window pane an unusual 3-D effect is created.

Inspirations to take home: use of garden art to unify and beautify




Leisurely Morning in Mexico City

silverThe blending of cultural influences—Native American roots and Spanish—is the central theme behind this display’s unusual narrative. In this working urban garden, an artisan crafts pottery that he sells at the local market. He’s been hard at work–the working potter’s wheel is surrounded by finished products. Vegetables and fruits grown here feed his family–including corn, peppers and fruit from trees and shrubs. There’s extensive use of detailed “aged” carpentry and stucco, with tropical plants making their home in the surrounding walls. And look for a variety of unusual palms incorporated into this relaxing setting where traditions in art, both old and new, delightfully coexist.

Inspirations to take home:  embracing new and old artistic traditions, side-by-side.




Monet Dreamed Here

silverWhich came first, art as an inspiration for the garden or the garden as an inspiration for the art?  This garden is a tribute to both. Here garden and art is a unified expression capturing mood, composition, texture, color, sound and light. The relaxing seating area and artist studio provides an escape from the crowded world, complemented by a water feature to enhance the feeling of quiet solitude.  This garden makes creative use of drought tolerant and low maintenance plantings–allowing time for the painter to focus on his canvas. One could imagine the great French Impressionist painter would be inspired!

Inspirations to take home: composition of visually rich outdoor areas 



MOFA—Museum of Foliar Art

Recipient of the Best Use of Theme Award

gold_medalYour garden as a museum? The concept is boldly executed here, with “plants as art”–three living walls (each with a different style) presented as “paintings,” a large topiary as a “sculpture” and many smaller framed “works of art” consisting of plant material. The diverse walls draw attention, and as you approach, you’ll notice smaller, even more beautiful plants–“framed” for display and discovery.

The art has a distinct modern approach, and its moss mobile owes its inspiration to the late sculptor Alexander Calder, originator of this kinetic art form.

Inspirations to take home: easy to execute green walls in a small garden setting






Nature’s Studio – AROUSE | EVOKE | CREATE | GROW | CHILL

Recipient of the Founder’s Cup (Best in Show) Award, Ethel Moss People’s Choice Award, Golden Palette Award, X Factor Award, Pacific Horticultural Society Award and the 425 magazine Editor’s Choice Award

gold_medalTake a journey through a couple’s outdoor studio…a stunning venue for their own work as well as found treasures.  This verdant private paradise inspires these artists through a multitude of colors, textures, fragrances and sounds.Their artistic contributions—immense metal artwork and a work-in-progress stone sculpture—are joined by nature’s own creations: gentle spring flowers, brilliant fresh foliage, luscious vegetables and falling waters. Though it appears as a forest landscape, this constantly evolving garden is a functional setting for the creation of new projects and a celebration of their past work.

Inspirations to take home: extensive use of metal art; up-cycled materials easily incorporated into home gardens





No Stress Allowed – A Sanctuary of Tranquility for Everyday Life

gold_medalThe strategic placement of every element in this garden is focused on capturing and conveying a sense of peace and serenity. For the benefit of the viewer, this small, “hidden” garden is neatly framed–just as an artist paints to capture the emotion of a certain place and time. Separated by a hand-crafted stone wall and a Japanese Tori gate, this garden includes a patio area ideal for entertaining and lounging.  When de-stressing is the focus, there’s a more private, semi-secluded garden area with a tranquil Japanese Garden.  Special features include sculpted boulders–each holding a pool of water–and landscape lighting creating a shimmering effect on water features.

Inspirations to take home: innovative hardscapes; fewer plant materials in small garden space




Paint Your Own Garden

This intimate cottage garden is inspired by three paintings, including “Shades of Red Flower Market” and “Cottage Path Geraniums” by Nancy Medina, and “Morning Tea and Fruit” by Janis Grau. Framed by a picket fence and arbor, it’s a rich palette of color, with fresh cut flowers, unusual pots and containers, hanging baskets, and umbrellas accenting the intimate setting. The garden makes liberal use of easy-to-find plantings, and eco-friendly sedum tiles interspersed with concrete pavers create an attractive patio and walkway.

Inspirations to take home: creative use of garden props; entertaining for everyday enjoyment




Peace in Motion—Sanctuary of Peace

silverInspired by our Northwest climate and Pan-Pacific ties, this Asian Contemporary Meditation Garden combines flowing space, natural elements and sculptural structures to create an environmental art experience.An antique temple wooden gate sets the tone for the journey ahead: the dramatic pathway is surrounded by a variety of Northwest plant species accented along the way by appropriate artwork and sculptures, including a single stone, hard-crafted Buddha statue and stone dragon heads. Not to be missed: one-of-a-kind, porcelain and stoneware “prayer wheel” sculptures with carved and painted narrative imagery.  It’s an oasis of solitude allowing you to focus on the journey, not the destination.

Inspirations to take home: interactivity (prayer wheels); local-sourced, recycled materials used to create artwork.Treeline Plan view HD




Quiet Beauty – The Japanese Garden Aesthetic: Celebrating Traditions, Transforming Visions

gold_medalThe tradition of the Japanese garden is spotlighted–with elements of man and nature providing the standards of a spectacular living art form. This garden is inspired by Japan’s most famous Zen rock garden, reflecting centuries of change and religious infusion. Ample use of stone, a peaceful pond, and highly stylized Japanese black pines pruned in the bonsai tradition create a memorable setting.

Of note: several of the black pines here have been pruned and trained for over 50 years from seeds Garden Creator Dan Robinson collected while serving in Korea.

Inspirations to take home: integration of simple elements of nature





Terra Cadence – The Rhythm of the Earth

gold_medalThe rhythm of the earth is mimicked in this setting, combining various angles, viewpoints and a use of color to foster a serene “Zen” effect.The lovely cool garden setting is due in large part to a color palette restricted to shades of green and white, with blankets of grass creating a soft curved step. Separate levels climax into an arbor-covered sitting area.  With delicate ferns at your feet, relax and take in the surroundings: above hangs a striking, kelp-like glass fixture that brings the ocean to mind; a streamlet drops into a small pond where floating glass balls bob gently (with glass matching the light above).

Inspirations to take home: curvature of flower beds and walls.





The Art of Retreat – Two Generations Define Their Own Garden Studios

Recipient of the American Horticultural Society Environmental Award, Fine Gardening Award, and the Sunset Western Living Award

gold_medalThis mother-daughter design team (past Gold award-winners in their own right), bring their special perspectives to this “dual generation” garden. Mom (Sue) wants to “unplug” in her artist retreat, fondly dubbed “Studio Botanica,” with its vintage botanical etchings. Daughter (Courtney) wants to “plug and play” in a vibrant haven inspired by video game storyboards. Even with their differences, both gardens share a thread of similarity: living walls, lush meadows and rivers of plants selected for their foliage textures and colors. Rather than sheer numbers of plant varieties, the co-designers embrace the elegance of design using well-chosen plants.

Inspirations to take home: extensive use of reclaimed materials; living walls using easy-to-find DIY supplies.






The Art of Upcycling

gold_medalMultiple garden types are seamlessly united here to engage and enjoy year around.  Plant combinations are selected for both their foliage and bloom impact in the garden, while container plantings offer colorful seasonal splashes.  A greenhouse (fabricated from discarded glass patio doors) is a welcome outpost for growing seeds, winter food crops and protecting semi-hardy plants. A child-friendly miniature garden provides hands-on enjoyment using little space. Other notable features in this living showcase include a cobbled water feature, recycled fence panels to nestle potted plants and ornamental birdhouses, and colorful glass art for accent and sparkle!

Inspirations to take home: artistic mixtures thriving together with modest care





The Art of Zen – Finding Zen in Your Own Back Yard

bronzeCombining traditional and contemporary components, this garden is designed around the cardinal points of wood, metal, water and fire.  What begins as a cascading waterfall completes its journey as a tranquil pond—creating a peaceful backdrop for a seating area. A path through a bamboo grove leads to a secluded pagoda that also doubles as a children’s playhouse. Nature’s work is accented by panels with Japanese symbols of longevity depicted in traditional Japanese characters.  At the end of the busy day, this is a place where you and your family may find solace and rejuvenation.

Inspirations to take home: bold colors in keeping with Shinto temple traditions




The Artist’s Studio

silverThe working artist…well…they need a place to work!Here’s an imaginative, “still life” setting for a painter at work. The courtyard-style “studio” area is framed by block pillars, with  bright flowering plants and trellises suspended from a wall—not unlike a painting hanging in a gallery. Though the studio is an intimate workplace, its vista has a lush lawn leading to a basalt column water feature.With spectacular floral gardens as a backdrop, a rotating group of painters from Northwest Artists in Action will have brushes in hand—creating their masterpieces before your eyes during the show.

Inspirations to take home: the studio as your patio; low maintenance gardening





The Garden of Artful Delight – Homage to the Art and Garden of Ginny Ruffner

Recipient of the South Sound Magazine Editor’s Choice Award

silverThis display pays homage to the whimsical garden of Seattle artist Ginny Ruffner, whose glass sculptures helped create the field of torchworked glass art worldwide.  Not surprisingly, her work is spotlighted throughout this display: luminous glass flowers, balls and other sculptures ornament a lush garden filled with colorful, textural and fragrant plants. It’s creatively anchored by a brick wall with mirrored windows; bark-clad log columns support an arbor with its flowering vines, and sitting areas tucked among the plants create a sense of cozy enclosure.
This is a sensory feast for its visitors!

Inspirations to take home: have fun!…mix plants with art to stimulate and entertain

Sponsored by the Museum of Glass Tacoma   




The Poetree: Rhythm and Rhyme in the Garden

silverArt takes many forms, and poetry and sculpture are among the oldest of all. This small, moonlit garden’s centerpiece is a sculptural “poetree” hung with poems.  Silhouetted against a highly crafted contemporary fence, rounded lunar-inspired forms are rhythmically repeated in containers and plant material for viewing–pale, highly textured and fragrant. Crescents reflect the moon, and circular shapes are echoed in the flagstone steps and patio. This garden invites both contemplation and participation. The poetry is the work of high school students involved in Hands for a Bridge, promoting dialogue and understanding through artistic expression.

Inspirations to take home: time in the garden extended into the evening by careful plant selection and lighting





Wine Garden “Culinary Containers”

As you step into this garden to sip a glass of wine, you’ll find a showcase of possibilities to incorporate containers into your garden and living areas.Containers are ideal for growing not only beautiful plants, but edible varieties as well. For urban gardeners with limited space, edibles can be easily grown to produce deck-to-table herbs and vegetables for your next meal. Beyond their functionality, containers can be viewed as sculptural and architectural elements in space. For spaces small and large, they are both functional and beautiful additions to your home.

Inspiration to take home: multiple container types, including handmade pieces