11 Jan Designers Vie for Top Awards at Garden Show
Since it was first founded in 1989, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show has had a tradition of inviting three exceptional gardening pros to serve as Show Judges and Speakers. This year is no exception, with Stephen Orr, Garden Editor for Martha Stewart Living, Rosalind Creasy, groundbreaking author of Edible Landscaping, and Steve Aitken, editor of Fine Gardening magazine, doing the honor of serving as Show Judges.
After hours of viewing the gardens and deliberating, the Show Judges award a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Crystal Award to each of the show gardens. They also award the Founder’s Cup, which has no set criteria – it’s the garden they all like the best. In 2011 designer Karen Stefonick of Karen Stefonick Design, and landscaper Brent Bissell, of B. Bissell General Contractors LLC did the impossible – they won the coveted top prize for the second year in a row with their garden titled “A Wrinkle in Time.” The award is bestowed on the ecstatic recipients by Cyle Eldred, Show Designer, during the Arboretum Foundation’s Opening Night Party, held the night before the show opens.
The Show Judges also decide the American Horticultural Society Environmental Award. This is the garden that “best demonstrates skillful design that incorporates environmental stewardship in the garden.” This award went to Christianson’s Nursery’s nostalgic garden, titled “A Day Well Spent,” which depicted a typical family nursery back in the 1940’s – much like Christianson’s Nursery was in earlier times.
But there are other judging teams on the garden floor during the hushed four hours after the gardens are finally completed, before the Opening Night Party guests arrive. These judging teams do not know the results of the medals bestowed by the three main Show Judges; they are all judging independently of each other, and each team has different criteria for their award.
The Pacific Horticulture Magazine Award goes to the garden that “best demonstrates the regional nature of garden design.” It is judged by a trio of Pacific Horticulture representatives, prominent designers and garden writers. Last year they selected the Arboretum Foundation’s respectful homage to the Seattle Japanese Garden, titled “Bridging History.” It was created in celebration of the Seattle Japanese Garden’s 50th anniversary, and was exquisite in its detail of a tranquil Japanese garden.
The Sunset’s Western Living Award seeks the garden “most filled with fresh, useful, achievable ideas that enhance outdoor living in the West, ” with Sunset writers/editors, including Julie Chai, judge this award. Courtney Goetz, designing a show garden for her high school project and performing like a seasoned veteran despite her youthful 19 years of age, received this award along with accolades from the Sunset editors. We certainly hope to see Courtney return to the show again!
The Ethel Moss People’s Choice Award (named for an early over-the-top passionate show attendee) is the favorite garden as voted by the show attendees. Christianson’s Nursery, which has won this award in the past, took home the honors in 2011. But who knows which garden will be capture the fancy of show attendees in 2012? Be sure to look for the voting stations in the skybridge and South Lobby and vote for your favorite garden.
Christianson’s Nursery also took home the 425 Magazine Award. It’s judged by editors and garden writers looking for “a garden that dazzles thanks to smart design, creativity and originality.” This garden was accessorized perfectly using found objects that gave it a comfortable, well-loved look. It’s no wonder the 425 Magazine editors loved it, along with the show attendees.
To the garden creators themselves, perhaps the most cherished award is the Fred Palmer Exhibitor Award. (Fred Palmer was the owner of Star Nursery in South Seattle, and a huge supporter and garden creator during the show’s earliest years.) This is the garden voted the most accomplished by fellow garden creators. Susan Browne, namesake of Susan Browne Landscape Design, delighted everyone with “Run, Little Pigs, Run! Her garden was a thoughtful rendition of the classic children’s book, “The Three Little Pigs” complete with the straw hut, Wood shack, brick house and wolf’s lair.
Congratulations to all of our 2011 award winners. But the show team thinks everyone creating the Northwest Flower & Garden Show’s display gardens are winners. These stunning gardens are built in true partnership with many different garden designers, landscapers, nurseries, artists, craftsmen, and retailers in the horticulture industry. We applaud those that take such pride in their work and help us maintain the high level of “Wow!” our attendees eagerly expect. For a list of the 2012 garden designers, check out our website. They love our new theme, “A Floral Symphony, ” so look for music to be woven into each garden’s theme. And if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you can print them conveniently at home. Remember – Early Bird ticket prices are good through February 7th. – Janet