The Gardens

2016 Garden Creators

Stunning gardens by top Garden Creators spotlight imagination with more eye-popping color


The region’s top Garden Creators are embracing the show-wide “America The Beautiful” theme — and there will be more eye-popping color than ever! The show’s amazing collection of 20 marquee display gardens will feature upwards of 50% more flowers in glorious bloom, thanks to the show’s commitment to an expanded “forcing” program in collaboration with Cascade Cuts (Bellingham) and Windmill Gardens (Sumner).

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.

These crowd-pleasing gardens reflect the expertise, planning and hard work of their Garden Creators — blending flowers, shrubs, trees, hardscape materials and artwork into jewel-like settings accented by theatrical lighting.

These gems are not only stunning to admire, but they’re full of inspirational features you can incorporate into your own garden.

Check back in December as we will be posting our full list of the 2016 Garden Creators, descriptions and more.

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.


2015 Garden Creators

The following images and descriptions are from the 2015 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. The theme was “Romance Blossoms” due to the show being open on Valentine’s Day.

We will keep these images on this page until we have the full list of 2016 Garden Creators ready for posting on this page.


Romance Blossoms – Northwest Flower & Garden Show Theme Garden

“Romance Blossoms” is a fitting theme for the 2015 edition of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show–Valentine’s Day is Saturday during the show! It’s also a time when creativity blossoms in the show’s multitude of spectacular gardens.

The “show’s own” garden grandly welcomes showgoers

The romance begins the moment you enter the show. You’ll make your grand entrance through the South Hall, where the show’s own dreamy garden creation, “Romance Blossoms,” sets the stage for the 23 themed gardens by the region’s top landscape designers.

There might not be a better spot to propose marriage (or a romantic interlude) than under this garden’s centerpiece arbor adorned with flowering plants. A dazzling spherical stone fountain surrounded by abundant flowers flirts with your senses, and the drama is heightened by a towering waterfall accented by flowering trees and spruces. Bandera granite has been cut and softened to provide a seating for lovers exchanging whispers of devotion.

This garden love affair represents collaboration between the Northwest Flower & Garden Show staff and regional landscaping experts, including Marenakos Rock Center (Issaquah), The Pond Store (Sumner), Seattle Solstice (Seattle), Terra Firma Hardscapes (Everett) and Windmill Gardens (Sumner).

A Garden Built With Love Other Awards: Best Use Of Show Theme Award, Fine Gardening Award

A Garden Built With Love

A little wine…a little romance! This garden fosters great vibes for all its visitors.

With its grape vines and selected plants native to the East side of the Cascades, the Garden Creator transports you to the sunny climes of Central Washington and its world-renowned wine country.

This is a garden designed for entertaining, and the barbecue features a distinctive stone chimney. The bar spotlights an unusual concrete counter top, and reclaimed wine barrels refined by a local artist are special touches incorporated into the bar and surrounding seating.

You can take a break here, too: you’re invited to “sit a spell” in a welcoming seating nook, another unusual element in this garden.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Use of reclaimed materials; unusual application of concrete


Over the Moon

The oversized full moon, the pair of great horned owls and a sky full of stars set the tone for this “night garden”–celebrating the energy and excitement of a new or rekindled romantic relationship.

Large conifers and white birches frame a classic Scandinavian Garden Pavilion, called a “Lusthus”. “Lust” translates to pleasure or delight and “hus” means building or structure. This exquisite pavilion is the perfect romantic spot for nature gazing and enjoying the meadow of spring flowering bulbs and colorful grasses. The flora is white with accents of yellow, apricot and orange. Maroon foliage shrubs and perennials provide contrast. Conifers, in an array of blues and greens, anchor the garden.

All circular elements in the garden resonate with the moon’s shape, color and spirit—the pavilion, a flagstone patio, entry arbor, and a gently overflowing pool. A hammock offers a place of respite among the trees, and pairs of critters are here and there– signaling it’s spring and romance is in the air.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Simple round shapes create rhythm and repetition, unifying a garden


Other Awards:

Founder’s Cup (Best In Show)

Garden Creator:

Association of Professional Landscape Designers—Washington Chapter


Designed by:

Lisa Bauer
Susie Thompson
Katie Weber


Giovanni’s Grotto

The romance of Italy, both its people and environs, is captured here in this grotto hideaway.

It has the feel of an outdoor room with its sitting area complemented by a stellar water feature and tiered landscape. The man-made structural elements are balanced with the use of natural stone, grass and water for an environmentally-friendly landscape.

The senses come into play throughout, highlighted by a plant palette of brilliant color and the tranquil sound of flowing waters.

The Garden Creator has used artwork depicting Italy’s landmarks, imaginatively transferred to wood, to underscore the Mediterranean flair of this garden.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Create a garden vignette with a global flavor, including plant material that grows well in multiple climates


The Root of True Romance: Beautiful Chaos…Love, Art, Nature

Celebrating nature captured for our pleasure, this is an intensely natural garden. Multiple elements contribute to the sense of romance: a waterfall nestled among granite boulders is a soothing focal point in this “High Cascade” setting. A sculptured snag—its image reflected in a large stone bench sculpture—serves as a canopy for the garden’s visitors. The waters of the pond are crystal clear and natural.

Mass plantings of red tulips create a dramatic—and romantic—visual accent to the combination of stone and naturally gnarly native plant material.

There’s plenty of time for romancing in this low maintenance garden, and all the plants are grown without pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Artistic use of recycled wood remnants from an earlier time in our regional history complement this very natural setting.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Integrated use of stone, water features and natural plant material


A ‘Bi-O-Cycle’ Built for Two

Utilizing the Garden Creator’s resources and expertise, this is a woodsy, yet biologically maintained, water garden. With the work done, there’s plenty of time for romance!

Setting the stage for this tranquil surroundings is a stream that feeds waterfalls flowing into two ponds. These focal points have been fashioned to resemble the shapes of bicycle wheels and hearts, with the bicycle “frame” created by the use of natural tree roots and branches. Old tree stumps, aging logs and ample use of ferns, ground covers, flowers and moss surround the distinctive water features.

Camouflaged from view are mechanical and biological filters that help maintain a clear and clean water source year around.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Water gardens can be installed just about anywhere and enhance all types of landscapes


Kissed by the Sun

Bursting with color and fragrance, the stage is set for a glorious wedding! The bride, whose dress, veil and shoes await her arrival, risks being upstaged by the abundance of blooming bulbs, annuals and perennials along with selected trees and shrubs.

A path of ground-hugging creeping sedum tiles leads to an arbor sumptuously draped with flowers and fabric–the scene of the exchanging of vows. A nearby table is laden with presents and the wedding cake.

But the stars—reflecting the collaborative efforts of the Garden Creator group—are the multiple blooming plants including primroses, Helleborus, Erysimum, Hyacinths, Tulips, Veronica, Bellis, and Narcissus. These selections are complemented by foliage plants such as Heuchera, Euphorbia, grasses, Hebes, Phormium and ferns.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Use of sedum tiles rather than grass turf; “winter color” plant material available at local garden stores

**This garden was not judged**

Garden Creator:

Flower Growers of Puget Sound


Designed by:

Gayle Payne


Knotty & Nice…Here’s to WE time

For a couple seeking to connect, play, relax and set time aside to be with each other—“we time”—this garden caters to both the masculine and feminine senses; calling in the energy of both.

The ‘Knotty’ reference to this part of the vignette is both the trees and plantings which are various forms of pine as well as large beams of pine wood used to create the structure. Meanwhile, the ‘Nice’ traits are displayed by the more feminine attributes of lyrical water, warm fire and cozy furnishings.

A protective pergola surrounded by large bold stones–complemented by a soothing water feature–is mirrored in a reflecting pond. The final touch is a cozy fireplace and cushy furniture that you can sink into.

The majority of plantings in this garden are evergreen so you have a very textural and abundant array of visual interest year round, not just in the spring and summer. After all, romance is for all seasons!

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Use a minimal plant list to create continuity and an uncluttered look


Rekindled Rendezvous

This woodland retreat is the perfect setting for writing a new chapter in a romance. With its quaint cabin accented by antique light fixtures, vintage oil paintings and an Arts & Crafts style artesian well, an urban couple has retreated to this old family homestead to renew their longtime romance.

This rendezvous setting combines both cultivated and native plant selections, including edibles, with harmonizing textures, shapes and colors. The Garden Creator utilizes rock and nurse logs to create elevation changes with added textures.

The garden spotlights unusual reclaimed and re-purposed materials, including 120-year-old barn timbers from an historic barn in Snohomish, and vintage brick and bluestone pavers. Of note: a portion of the original façade from Seattle’s historic Fox Music Hall.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Inventive use of reclaimed materials and the artful blending of plants uniquely suited to the Pacific Northwest.


A Moment to Remember

We all have those memories of special moments in our lives that we cherish. What makes it special is what happened there, the people that were with us, and the beauty of the moment. This garden conveys such a place in time.
A beautiful alpine waterfall is fronted by a pristine pool surrounded by amazing plants. The stunning focal point is a stone platform that seemingly floats just above the water’s surface.

The Garden Creator has combined a natural organic landscape using native plants and alpine firs with the more formal structural pool and handcrafted stone work. It’s a juxtaposition of two design styles that are artistically united in this romantic setting.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Combining formal structural elements with natural organic design


Lettre d’ Amorchid

The singular beauty of orchids is spotlighted in this private space where lovers met, parted and ventured back alone to reminisce. Orchids cling to rocky crevices and grow among tree branches…as they bloom in the tropical breeze, it’s hard not to fall in love!

Several types of orchids—growing on the ground and among the trees and rocks as they do in nature—are showcased in this display.

This garden dreamscape reflects the passion of orchid growers and enthusiasts from all walks of life. Over 30 volunteers have collaborated in creating this garden, and the plants come from the personal collections of Northwest Orchid Society members.

Curious about growing these delicate beauties for your own enjoyment? Knowledgeable members of the society are on hand to answer your questions.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Orchid varieties for NW gardens; growing in your home or greenhouse


Garden Creator:

Northwest Orchid Society


Designed by:

Joe Grienauer


Pining Over Yew—A Love for Every Season

There’s more than a hint of Bohemian charm in the plant selection here: an array of native plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife, while herbs and vegetables offer fresh backyard garden-to-table options.

The garden’s outdoor living spaces are perfect for a gathering of friends or family celebrations. The spacious patio features a fireplace, and an upper nook is sheltered by a cozy pagoda ideal for date nights and family dinners. A rustic steel sculpture—formed by welding hundreds of steel rods—represents a decaying old growth stump and pays homage to the natural history of our region.

The warmth of this low-maintenance garden also has a functional side: it’s a living rain garden that directs water from surrounding rooftops, driveways and slopes into an environmentally sustainable absorption and filtration system.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Use of native plants for a low-maintenance, low-impact garden


Romantic Folly

Maude and Parker are in love, and this garden reflects their romance with its sweeping colors and design elements that are both personal and casual.

A romantic bench serves as a focal point in this picnic scene, with Maude’s parasol sitting nearby. Furniture captures another time and place with a classic, if aging, motel chair and a vintage deck chair.

Flowers fabricated from recycled glass bloom among roses, rhododendron and tulips. Atop stone and grass steps, a gate extends from a stylized metal tree and draws attention to the garden’s center–water in a picturesque container splashing into a rill and flowing to a pond.

This fragrant garden uses a variety of plant material to set the mood with vibrant splashes of lush green and white, with blooming and leafy plants providing accents of pink, cream and silver.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Inventive use of color and textures to create a mood


Love the Space You’re In

Love must be nurtured, and so must a garden. This garden creates a reciprocal effect as well, allowing its visitors to either rest–or stretch their gardening knowledge and experiment!

A quaint potter’s cottage features distinctive slat front walls, repurposed doors and windows. It features a deck extending to a flagstone-based patio with seating and a warming custom firepit (created from scrapped and cut propane tanks), all of which is surrounded by flower beds with flashes of color. An artful metal wall piece and hand blown glass accent the color palette of the plant materials.

It is a most comfortable setting influenced by plant material that works well in our region. Flowers in hues of orange, white and blue create a striking impression against a backdrop of more subtle colors.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Use of plant color to create dynamic areas of contrast


A Woodland Nymph’s Dream

You don’t have to be a woodland nymph (“a mythological spirit of nature imagined as a beautiful maiden”) to savor this garden’s delights.

A stacked ledgestone wall and whimsical twisted stick arbor frames the entry to the nymph’s secret playground. A flagstone path leads you into the dream—a place to sit and take in the garden’s features: a peaceful spill of water is a backdrop for colorful blooming dogwoods, currants and the curves of Contorted Filberts. You’ll also find beautiful winter blossoms of Helleborus and the first blooms of early spring Witch Hazel.

Look carefully for the nymph at play among the branches and roots of an interesting stump and log–reclaimed from a recently logged site on Whidbey Island.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Take advantage of existing items in your yard and garden


Step by Step, Side by Side

Romance takes on many forms, and this garden underscores our close relationship with nature and the ideas we can embrace from our natural environment.

The entrance of the garden is very unique as you walk upon a floating gabion path (stone-filled wire baskets tied together) toward a floating gabion “lovers platform.” This is framed by green “waves” of trees and flowers converging into a “river” of green. Several features include repurposed elements, including the use of wine bottles as garden borders as well as art screens and sculptures.

An added bonus: the distinctive raised path and platform drain quickly after a good rain, and the gabion has intrinsic reflexology wellness benefits.

This contemporary garden will take you to another imaginary world of gardening that is practical, inspiring and healthful.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Extensive use of gabions; reflexology benefits


Three Phases of Love…Young, Passionate, Forever

Bold use of color and imaginative plant selections signify three phases of love—from the onset to eternity. This captivating three part display takes us through the romantic journey.

An artistic gate welcomes you to the pathway of love and you’re invited to linger at a bench among blooms of soft pastel colors. Your journey continues, surrounded by exotic trees, shrubs and ground hugging plants. The passion heightens as you reach a waterfall (and a likely setting for a lovers’ tryst) surrounded by red hot tulips and ferns.

The final destination captures happy memories (and a few tears) experienced by the lovers in their time together. Trellis walls frame windows—where we view our two aging lovers enjoying a cup of tea. You’re surrounded by blooms of blues and purples, with a large Magnolia framing the intimate setting. Love is forever.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Expressive gardening style; use of color and its directive power


Garden Creator:

Washington Association of Landscape Professionals


Designed by:

Kathie Madsen

Jon L. Shepodd


Picture Yourself on Azalea Way

The Washington Park Arboretum has been a scene for many couples falling in love over its 80 year history. Inspired by Azalea Way in the 230-acre dynamic garden, the Garden Creator team captures the romance of strolling this historic promenade flanked by blooming azaleas, cherry trees and bulbs.

This interactive garden rolls out a welcome to visitors: an elevated walkway at the rear of the display leads you to a small clearing in the center of the garden. Here you’ll find “living dresses”—dress forms richly covered in ornamental plants and fabric—to stand behind and pose with friends or family members. And you’re encouraged to post them on your favorite social media.

This is a showcase for plants native to the Pacific Northwest, or those that have been found to thrive here. You’ll find many of these same plants along Azalea Way in the Arboretum, open year around in the heart of Seattle.

“Take-home ideas’ for your own garden: Plants that grow well in Western Washington; use of reclaimed logs


Other Awards

Golden Palette Award

Garden Creator:

Washington Park Arboretum

The Arboretum Foundation


Designed by:

Phil Wood

Bob Lilly


Birds Do It…Bees Do It…

This garden really is about the birds and the bees (in the literal sense), but a lush, grassy area accented by a subtle water feature provides a setting to form your own interpretation of romance. Blooming spring bulbs add splashes of color, but it’s also a setting where backyard gardeners grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Our lives intersect with birds and bees on many levels. An elevated live bee house is the garden’s focal point along with inviting blooming plants for our winged neighbors. Constructed using recycled materials and salvaged wood, the bee house spotlights the vital importance of bees in the production of food.

Our feathered friends aren’t left out in the cold with artistic bird houses providing shelter. And a decorative but functional “insect hotel” further underscores the importance of all the inhabitants in our eco-system.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Plant selections that attract and support birds and bees


Other Awards:

Fred Palmer Garden Creator’s Award, Pacific Horticultural Society Award, South Sound Magazine Editors’ Choice Award

Garden Creator:

West Seattle Nursery


Designed by:

West Seattle Nursery Staff


The Romance of Steampunk

Step back into the 1880’s and the Victorian era in this whimsical setting. With its kinetic water feature, an elaborate series of gears and chains, an oversized clock and wide range of foliage textures, this garden embraces “steampunk” elements of technology, sci-fi and fantasy.

The Garden Creator incorporates salvaged and repurposed materials throughout, including its centerpiece “Victorian folly” with its domed roof, stained glass windows and use of recycled wood and metals. Used brick and stone columns support art panels—linked by an arbor twined with flowing vines. A welcoming patio is composed of various hardscape materials to create an elegant floral pattern.

Layering of color and repetition of plants creates a bold look. There is ample use of flowering spring bulbs and blooming perennials, with larger shrubs and trees creating focals within the landscape.

“Take-home ideas” for your own garden: Innovative ways to incorporate movement and sound in a garden space


Get Social: Sip and Sparkle in the Garden

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 wonderful flowers as well. For urban gardeners with limited space its a great solution to provide beauty in a small space.

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

Garden Creator:

Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association


Designed by:

Stacy Smith, CPH

Sweet Loam Fine Gardening, LLC

Everett Chu, CPH and ecoPRO

Azusa Farm and Gardens