Garden Creators Compose to “A Floral Symphony” – Part 1

Garden Creators Compose to “A Floral Symphony” – Part 1

Once again a prestigious group of garden designers will be pulling out all the stops when they design and build 26 fantastic show gardens for the 24th annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show, to be held February 8 – 12, 2012 at the Washington State Convention Center.


The garden show theme, “A Floral Symphony,” is inspiring the show garden creators to design gardens influenced by music, including concertos, ballads, and blues. Others draw a storyline from the art of music composition or the soothing sounds of nature. Both music lovers and gardening aficionados will enjoy seeing these spectacular gardens brought to life as they herald spring at the beloved annual show. Many of our show gardens will also feature musicians at various times of the day, so you can enjoy the lilting sounds of soft melodies along with the inspirational gardens.



Fancy Fronds and Albe Rustics transported show goers with their 2009 fantasy garden.

Judith Jones, owner of Fancy Fronds Nursery, has teamed up with Vanca Lumsden of Albe Rustics for many fanciful, award-winning show gardens. This year they are joining with Aw Pottery, and their inspiration comes from the 1888 tour de force “Scheherazade” by Russian composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. Their fanciful garden will transport show goers on a magic carpet ride as they revel in the beauty of a lush and exotic Arabian night.  Vanca once owned a nursery specializing in bog plants and water gardens, so if your wet garden areas have you bogged down, catch her seminar “Get Your Feet Wet” on Wednesday, February 8.


Prokofiev’s beloved symphony “Peter and the Wolf” was the catalyst for a garden by newcomer James Sprague of Fancy Plants Gardens, creating his first show garden. “Peter and the Wolf – A Landscape Symphony” is a tale of two different worlds: the cultured and the wild. The main characters in the symphony (Peter, his Grandfather and, of course, the Wolf) can be found in the garden, represented by instruments and unique plant compositions. Parents and children alike will enjoy seeing this favorite symphony interpreted in a garden setting.


The musical term ‘andante’ means a slow and easy tempo, and slowing down to enjoy life is the message behind “Redefining Andante” by Mark Harp (known to many as The Pond Store.”) as he joins forces with Sue Goetz of The Creative Gardener and Joan Bogan of Bogan Limousine Excursions. Find calm and peace in the sound and movement of water in a shady glen, where the hectic race and crescendo of life is far beyond this soothing garden of tranquility.



In 2010 Innovative Landscape Technologies and WSNLA used a vertical edible garden as a living fence.

Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s 1874 suite is a showpiece for virtuoso pianists and inspired Zsofia Pasztor of Innovative Landscape Technologies and Jill Nunemaker of Verterra Landscape Design to create a native plant garden filled with recycled and repurposed objects, titled “Pictures at a Northwest Exhibition: Rhapsody in Green.” Look for invaluable lessons in the beautiful yet sustainable garden, as they showcase a rain garden, wetland roof, cistern and slope restoration. Zsofia is a leader in sustainable gardening, and those looking to make their gardens more wildlife friendly will want to hear her seminar, “At Home in a Habitat Garden,” on Sunday, February 12. 


Wight's Home & Garden brought good things to life in their 2011 garden.

Who doesn’t dream of an “April in Paris,” after the song by the same name made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1950? The team from Wight’s Home & Garden will create a Paris street scene replete with a café and boulangerie nestled near a park with benches and a fountain. It will be brimming with spring blooming favorites, all reflecting a European casual symmetry with abundant texture, color and, of course, plenty of romance. 


The Northwest Orchid Society created this stunning garden at the 2010 show.

The Northwest Orchid Society returns to the show with a garden created by Joe Grienauer, of Emerald City Orchids, titled “Symphony Orchidstra.” Their show-stopping symphony of orchids will be much like a real symphony orchestra – grouping the orchids based on cultural requirements the way an orchestra groups its various instruments. As it has in its previous show gardens, the NOS artfully combines stunning displays of orchids with an educational component that both novice and experienced orchid fanciers will enjoy. 



The Arboretum Foundation's 2011 garden paid homage to the Seattle Japanese Garden.

Not all music in our life is man-made, and bird song reminds us of the natural balance of the world outside our doors as we share the Earth with our feathered friends. “Birdsong” is a garden that represents a range of bird habitats – marshland at the shore of a lake, woodland edge, and deeper forest. The Arboretum at Washington Park and the Seattle Audubon Society will be showing us ways to provide food and shelter for the birds, in a garden designed by award-winning designers Phil Wood, Roger Williams and Bob Lilly, winners of the Pacific Horticulture Award last February.


For an preview of the Arboretum/Audobon garden you won’t want to miss the Opening Night Party. Enjoy delicious food, wine, silent auctions, live entertainment and an exclusive first look at the spectacular horticulture displays in the show, including the Arboretum and Audobon display. Go to the Arboretum website for more information and to purchase tickets.


The sound of the dinner bell is the genesis of a garden by Michael Seliga of Cascadian Edible Landscapes, creating a garden in the show for the first time. His garden is titled “Dinner Bell Rings: Eat Your Yard,” and the 99% edible garden will be food-and-family-oriented, showcasing recycled and affordable materials for today’s cost and environmentally conscious urban homesteading family. Look for an unusual piece of art in the garden where the musical theme supports a showcase of vertical gardening. 


Artistic Garden Concepts' 2011 garden showcased a rain garden and water conservation ideas.

Nancy Claire Guth of Artistic Garden Concepts returns with Van Zanten Landscapes to design another show garden. For her 2012 show garden she takes a romantic turn with a garden titled “If I Write You a Song…” Her dreamy woodland garden, with softly dimmed lights and sweetly scented plants, has an intimate table for two on the terrace as a poet invites his lady love to join him for the evening. “If I say ‘I love you,’ out under the tree, could I bear to hear what you whisper to me?” he muses, hopelessly waiting for an answer. 


Another garden drawing inspiration from natural sounds is designed by Heidi Skievaski of Sublime Garden Design, installing a garden with Natural Concepts Landscapes Co. Their eclectic Northwest garden, inspired by neuroacoustic research, is titled “The Resonating Sounds of Nature – Finding Peace and Solace in the Garden.” It seeks to create a three-dimensional sound environment based on the primordial sounds found in nature, with rainwater falling on drums and trickling through a stream, taking us back to the beginning of our human journey. 


Massive boulders and evergreens surrounded a natural stream in Elandan Gardens' 2009 garden.

A massive, gnarled tree stump, huge boulders and sculptured bonzai are the signatures of a garden by Dan Robinson and Will Robinson of Elandan Gardens. Their 2012 garden, “A Force of Nature in 5 Strings” is drawn from a concerto in 5 string banjo. Highly naturalistic, the garden features a 50-year-old Scots pine towering over a pristine pond along with a family dining table created from hand-sculpted stone.


Trees are an iconic symbol of the Evergreen State. They provide habitat for fauna and respite for the hectic lives of humans. The sounds of nature are in harmony in “Specimen Foray,” a garden by newcomer Eli Kunzmann, of  Heritage Tree and Land in Snohomish. Here with the subtle beauty of ‘ordinary’ plants, nestled alongside stunning tree specimens, you can relax and stay awhile as the trees’ grace and beauty helps wash away the stress of daily living.



These are some highlights of a few of the 26 lavish display gardens at the show. Look for Part 2 of our show garden creators tomorrow! To read the garden creators’ complete “Statements of Intent” and view photo albums from prior shows, go to our website. And tickets are now on sale! Get yours using our convenient print at home ticketing.   ~ Janet



  • nancy claire guth
    Posted at 01:04h, 07 January Reply

    well written! I want to go to this show! ( wait. I guess I am going…) just a small note. My name is Nancy Claire with an ‘e’.. Anyway, good job of capturing the romantic spirit of our garden…we will have guitarist Paul Johnson performing the actual song in the garden on two evenings of the show…Exciting!

    • Janet
      Posted at 01:17h, 07 January Reply

      Opps! My bad. I’ve made the correction. Your garden sounds wonderful and music will add to the romantic mood. ~ Janet

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