Show Gardens Reap Awards of Excellence

Show Gardens Reap Awards of Excellence

They came, they saw, they raved. The three Show Judges – Panayoti Kelaidis, Lucy Hardiman and C. Colston Burrell – bestowed eight Gold Medals on the nineteen show gardens that they judged, proclaiming it the “best garden show ever.” The 2011 show garden theme, “Once Upon a Time…Spectacular Gardens With Stories to Tell,” sowed the seeds of imagination as never before. Designers drew inspiration from both classic, beloved books and stories, such as Alice in Wonderland, Three Little Pigs and Great Expectations, along with contemporary books such as the new book, Where Gifts and Wildings Grow, by designer Susie Dingle. The main Show Judges and the media Judges gave out 36 awards of excellence in all categories throughout the show.


Karen Stefonick's contemporary garden took the coveted Founder's Cup Award for the second year.

The coveted Founder’s Cup Award, aka the “Best in Show,” went to the team of Karen Stefonick Design in Bothell, and B. Bissell General Contractor LLC in Snohomish for an unprecedented second year in a row. Their show garden, titled “A Wrinkle in Time – Gardens Not Yet Discovered,” was based on the science fiction fantasy novel, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. They also received a Gold Medal. Show Designer Cyle Eldred presented Karen Stefonick and Bill Bissell with the huge silver trophy at the Arboretum Foundation’s Preview Party the night before the show opened. Karen has had the trophy in her own office for the past year; now it will go in Bill’s office until the 2012 show.


The People's Choice Award, along with 3 other awards, went to Christianson's Nursery for their nostalgic family nursery.

Perennial favorite Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon returned to the show garden floor after a few year’s hiatus with the award-winning garden “A Day Well Spent – Once Upon a Time, the Way We Used to Garden.” Their nostalgic garden evoked a simpler era when a small, charming family nursery grew plants from seeds or in their own fields, and sold them to local neighbors. They replicated in amazing detail a family nursery not unlike Christianson’s Nursery in its earliest days. Media Judges and attendees loved it, and the garden claimed four awards: the Ethel Moss People’s Choice Award, the American Horticultural Society Environmental Award, the Seattle Homes & Lifestyles Magazine Award, and the 425 Magazine Award, along with a Gold Medal.



The Arboretum Foundation won the Pacific Horticulture Society Award for their tribute to the Seattle Japanese Garden.

The Arboretum Foundation honored the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Japanese Garden with their entry, “Bridging History: The Man Who Made Trees Blossom.” Their exquisite garden, designed by Phil Wood, Bob Lilly and Roger Williams  won the Pacific Horticultural Society Award. The Japanese garden featured three cherry trees that were coaxed into early bloom with the new forcing program at Windmill Gardens, in Sumner. During judging on Tuesday the trees had tight buds of blossoms, but by the following day when the show opened, the buds burst open to create an ethereal haze of pale pink in one corner of the garden. Perfection.



A charming thatched hut is one of the houses in Susan Browne's Three Little Pigs garden, which won the Fred Palmer Garden Creator's Award.

Susan Browne of Susan Browne Landscape Design dreamed up a delightful garden that replicated the homes of each of the Three Little Pigs – and the Big Bad Wolf – titled “Run Little Pigs, Run!” The straw hut, twig house, formal brick house and the wolf’s tree stump hideaway were each landscaped to suit the style of the home. I loved all the finishing details, such as the wolf’s mailbox, which even contained a catalog for some mean-looking knives. It won the Fred Palmer Garden Creator’s Award, which is an honor chosen by all of the garden creators each year, and also garnered a Gold Medal.



Courtney Goetz won the Sunset Western Living Award for her sustainable garden repurposing old materials, such as these old radiators.

The Sunset Western Living Award went to Courtney Goetz for her “Paradise to be Regained” sustainable garden, based on Henry David Thoreau’s book of the same title. Courtney created the Gold Medal garden for her high school senior project. Yes, you read that correctly – Courtney is a very talented 17-year-old teen. She tackled the many challenges of designing a show garden like an experienced pro. Of course, having her mom, Sue Goetz, of Creative Gardener, as her mentor surely helped, along with past experience at many previous shows where she helped her mom as “slave labor” during move-in. I do hope she got an “A+” on her project.



Kristy Ditmore of Under the Arbor won the Best Overall Design for her Living it Up! garden

You don’t have to have a large property to create a pleasing and functional garden retreat. The show’s ‘Living it Up’ display in the South Lobby featured smaller gardens to demonstrate what one can do with a small patio or condo balcony. The award for Best Overall Design and Use of Small Space went to Kristy Ditmore, owner of Under the Arbor Landscape Design, for her energizing orange-hued patio garden.


Here are all of the 2011 show gardens medal results:            

Arboretum Foundation Gold
Artistic Garden Concepts, Van Zanten Landscapes & Basalite Concrete Products Crystal
Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Bronze
Cedar Grove Composting Bronze
Christianson’s Nursery Gold
Creative Gardener Gold
Elandan Gardens Ltd. Silver
Fancy Fronds & ALBE Rustics Crystal
Flower Growers of Puget Sound Not judged
Innovative Landscape Technologies Bronze
Karen Stefonick Design & B.Bissell General Contractor, LLC Gold
Kinssies Landscaping Gold
Northwest Orchid Society Silver
Plantswoman Design Bronze
Signature Garden, d4Collective Not judged
SolTerra Systems Gold
Susan Browne Landscape Design Gold
Suzy Dingle Landscape Creations & Higgins & Tiller Landscaping Bronze
Washington Association of Landscape Professionals (WALP) Silver
Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association (WSNLA) Gold
Wight’s Home & Garden Bronze


Cyle Eldred is already recruiting garden creators for the 2012 show, to be held February 8 – 12, 2012 at the Washington State Convention Center. The show’s theme is “A Floral Symphony: Gardens Take Note.” Already the region’s acclaimed garden designers are jazzed, brainstorming about the music that inspires them. How about you? If you could design a garden based on a favorite song, what would that song be? – Janet

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