“Once Upon a Time” Sparks Garden Creators’ Imaginations

“Once Upon a Time” Sparks Garden Creators’ Imaginations

Early next year, during five typically cold and gloomy days in February, the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle will spring to life like a Tim Burton movie set. Twenty-two groups of garden designers and landscapers will be creating dramatic show gardens, most using a beloved book or fairy tale as the source of their inspiration. The show gardens are the heart and soul of a world-class garden show, and the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, now in its 23rd year, is pulling out all the stops to produce “Once Upon a Time…Spectacular Gardens with Stories to Tell.”


In fact, last February the folks at O’Loughlin Trade Shows, the new owners of the show, were so captivated by the beauty and drama of the show gardens, they decided to create their own show garden for the 2011 show. This is really a testament to their commitment to the show, the largest and most respected world-class garden show on the West Coast.  As Show Producer Terry O’Loughlin said, “we’re all in, and completely vested in the success and tradition of the show.” So the Show has teamed up with four designers to create this first-ever ‘Signature Garden.’


The 2010 garden by APLDWA designers was "Your Hidden Garden Discovered." The design team returns with "Garden in Verse" for the show's Signature Garden.

The Signature Garden designers are going by the nom de plume of ‘d4collective.’  This group designed the 2010 Gold Medal show garden for the Association Professional of Landscape Designers (APLD – Washington Chapter) – and actually remained friends through it all. Susie Thompson, Octavia Chambliss, Barbara Lycett, APLD, and Daniel Lowery, APLD, are teaming up again, and promise an ethereal and dream-like garden experience, with a garden of pure white flowers, pools of water and stunning sculpture, titled “Garden in Verse.” They are blogging about their experiences in a new blog, http://nwf.gs/aYqU0D so you can follow the creative design and build process. It’s fascinating to read about the collaborative process of these top designers and the artists they are teaming with. Multiply this process by 21 other design teams, and you can only begin to imagine the time, energy and effort it takes to create a show garden.


The show’s 2011 theme spurred the recollections of many designers about their favorite children’s books. Zsofia Pasztor, of Innovative Landscape Technologies, plans to interpret the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland, and to “think outside the rabbit hole.” I wonder, will this garden be very BIG, or very small? Cedar Grove Composting will also be using a passage from Alice in Wonderland as their inspiration, with a garden titled “Alice’s Labyrinth.” It will evoke the distance we must travel for a sustainable society; thinking we are at the end, when we only find ourselves back at the beginning.


"First Breath of Spring" was the 2010 show-stopping blooming display by the Flower Growers of Puget Sound

Designer Susan Brown, owner of Susan Brown Landscape Design, will be building three structures reminiscent of those in the classic fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs, with a garden titled “Run Little Pigs, Run!” Who knows if the Big Bad Wolf will be hanging around? The Brothers Grimm tale of Rapunzel will be the inspiration for the Flower Growers of Puget Sound, with the story of Rapunzel artfully created using early-flowering annuals and spring flowering bulbs, all arranged around her stacked rock tower.


Charles Dickens’ seminal classic novel, Great Expectations, will serve as the foundation for Susan Calhoun, of Plantswoman Design. Susan describes it as “the ultimate fairytale ending. This garden will lead us on a journey of a life lived in heartache and darkness turned to light and love.”


“Stepping Through a Timeless Tranquil Forest” will convey the Legend of Bigfoot, created by John Kinssies of Kinssies Landscaping. Visitors will be transported to a mountain alpine setting with a spectacular waterfall, hoping to spot a glimpse of Bigfoot as he sneaks away into the native plantings.


The Arboretum Foundation's 2009 garden evoked a peaceful sitting area in the middle of a woodland forest with "Entry to Cascadia".

Historical settings are the genesis for gardens by both The Arboretum Foundation and the Northwest Orchid Society. The Arboretum Foundation’s show garden will be based on the Japanese fable “The Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom.” The display celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Japanese Garden at the Arboretum. Look for the faithful dog Shiro who helps his master revive an old cherry tree in the courtyard garden of the local prince.


The Northwest Orchid Society picked a book that was a natural fit – The Orchid Hunters by Sandra K. Moore. It will highlight how the past and present often touch each other, and how certain historical figures influenced the orchids we grow and love today. (And if you’re an orchid aficionado be sure to see Joseph Grienauer’s seminar, “The Seedy History of Orchids – Greed, Murder, Revenge and Redemption in the Orchid World.” It seems the history of orchids is ‘R’ rated!)


Judith Jones, owner of Fancy Fronds, and Vanca Lumson, of ALBE Rustics, are well known to show goers for their amazingly inventive gardens. Their next garden will be based on the beloved masterpiece, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. They will be creating a scene of Badger’s wild woods, with Portly Otter’s rain garden swale, and a meadow gracing Toad Hall. And Judith and Vanca, along with the “Slightly Askew Troupe” will also be creating a madcap musical for the Sprout Stage to entertain children, called “The Riverbank Adventure.”


WALP's 2010 show garden was "Simply Entertaining" and filled with outdoor living ideas.

The Washington Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) are putting tongue firmly in cheek with their garden, “Wish Shoe Were Here,” a take on the popular nursery rhyme, “The Old Woman in the Shoe.” And what a shoe it will be, an inspired fantasy supported by the semi-tropical and common plants that surround it. Likewise the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals (WALP) will be interpreting the classic The Frog Prince, by Gustaf Tenggren, reminding us that all that glitters is not gold – and their ‘greenstyle’ retreat can capture ‘liquid gold’ with their water-conserving design ideas.


Many of the show garden designers are seasoned veterans, but the show welcomes some new designers too. One of them, 17-year-old Courtney Goetz, is taking on a real challenge, designing a garden for a high school project. Of course she has a very experienced mentor – her mother, Sue Goetz, of Creative Gardener, who will also be a show speaker. Courtney’s garden, “Paradise (to be) Regained” borrows from Henry David Thoreau’s book of the same title. She wants to share a garden that seeks sustainability. As Courtney says, “This garden uses the power to reclaim and ‘recharacterize’ what is left behind. So when Father Industry comes to battle with Mother Nature, who wins?”


WSNLA's 2009 show garden used "Reclaim, Recreate, Rejuvenate" as the theme for their cabin nestled by a wooded stream.

The award-winning historical novel, Stowaway, by Karen Hesse, will serve as the source for the Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association (WSNLA) garden. It will be designed and built by the team of Kate Easton of Garden Vision, Meg Pulkkinen of Meg Pulkkinin Landscape Design, Lloyd Glasscock of Pacific Stone Company and Kirsten Lints, of Gardens Alive Design. They will be imagining how the exotic Australia would have appeared to an intrepid young stowaway, Nicholas, in 1770, when he landed with the company of scientists and artists and the legendary Captain Cook from the HMS Endeavour.


Water is the focus of Artistic Garden Concepts designer Nancy Clair Guth. Her garden, titled “Rain, Rain Go Away…P.S. Come Again,” will show how the concept of water management can be both interactive and innovative; a symphony in green in harmony with water. Wight’s Home & Garden will be showcasing “Once Upon a Thyme – A Recipe for the Good Life.” They will reveal the three secrets to a good and happy life – of course the first secret is a garden to feed the soul. Find out the other secrets when you view their inventive garden, filled with ideas and accessories you can take home and use.


In 2010 SolTerra Systems created this living space with a striking planted vertical wall and many sustainable gardening ideas.

Brian Heather, of SolTerra Systems, will be creating “Next Stop, Hotel Babylon,” a place where new living systems create a backdrop for eco-chic travelers, replete with a green roof canopy and vegetative floor tiles. And we go from the modern to the ancient, with “Gnarly Branches, Ancient Trees” based on the book of the same title about the life and work of Dan Robinson, of Elandan Gardens. It aims to be a celebration of ancient trees, natural sculptural elements leaving the mark of artistic courage and originality.


John and Toni Christianson of Christianson’s Nursery have often created award-winning show gardens that are attendee favorites. They are back for 2011 with “A Day Well Spent – Once Upon a Time, the Way We Used to Garden.” They plan to evoke a nostalgic and simpler era when a small, charming family nursery grew plants from seeds or in their own fields, and sold them to local neighbors. A family nursery not unlike the way Christianson’s was in its earliest days.


And while Christianson’s Nursery will be looking to the past, Karen Stefonick, of Karen Stefonick Design, along with Brent Bissell, will look to the future with her garden, “Gardens Not Yet Discovered,” based on the science fiction fantasy novel, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This will be a fanciful blend of science fiction and gardening, depicting “tesseracts,” described as “folds in time and space,” so be prepared to do some traveling to other dimensions when viewing this garden.


In 2009 "Welcome to Your Weekend" by Le Jardin Home & Garden Design invited you into a comfortable contemporary outdoor living space.

Suzy Dingle and Victor Higgins, of Suzy Dingle Landscape Creations, are using a soon-to-be-released book by Suzy Dingle as the source of their inspiration for a garden titled Where Gifts and Wildings Grow. Look for the heroine, Mindy, in a gently cultivated sanctuary with a secluded hot spring near a ferny outcropping on the eve of a sacred gathering. 


Parents and teachers should encourage youth to read many of these books and fairytales, and then visit the show to see how the settings were imagined by these talented garden creators. No matter what novel serves as inspiration for our 2011 Garden Creators, you can be sure that they will be incorporating today’s design imperatives: gardens that work with nature, utilizing the latest in water conservation, sustainable planting, and extending the home for enjoyable outdoor living. Show attendees will see how all these garden design trends can look beautiful, and find many ideas to bring home to their own gardens. For more information about all the show gardens, visit our website at http://nwf.gs/ex0Nao. ~ Janet

No Comments

Post A Comment