Spotlight on Seminars – Cultivating Books

Spotlight on Seminars – Cultivating Books

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show’s 2011 theme, “Once Upon a Time…Spectacular Gardens with Stories to Tell,” challenges our inventive show garden creators to interpret a beloved storybook or classic novel in their imaginative show gardens. They are well into the design process, and they are rising to the challenge!

Books also serve as the source of inspiration for some of our seminars. Cole Burrell delves into his list of the most influential garden books, while Shirley Sidell shows how you can create a Bible-based garden, using plants mentioned in scripture (many of which grow well in our climate). Mary Ann Newcomer shares the gardening techniques used by the early pioneers depicted in Willa Cather’s beloved novels, and Richard Greenberg brings his mellifluous, rich voice to a reading of his favorite garden poetry. Here are some highlights:


In today’s fast-paced information age, it is hard to imagine a time when gardeners relied on books rather than YouTube videos for inspiration and practical advice. This lecture examines the shifting roles that gardens have played in our culture and highlights some seminal books that changed the way we envision, design, plant and maintain outdoor spaces.

C. Colston Burrell
Cultivating the Written Word
Books That Changed the Way We Garden
Thursday, February 24 at 9:30 am in the Hood Room

C. Colston Burrell is a certified chlorophyll addict, an acclaimed lecturer, garden designer, award winning author and photographer. He is principal of Native Landscape Design and Restoration, which specializes in blending nature and culture through artistic design. In 2008 Cole received the Award of Distinction from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. He is the author of 12 gardening books, including Perennial Combinations (revised, Rodale Press, 2008) and Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide (Timber Press, 2006), winner of the 2007 AHS book award. He is a contributing editor for Horticulture and frequently writes for Landscape Architecture and American Gardener.


Willa Cather’s novels, My Antonia, Death Comes to the Archbishop, and O’Pioneers, make reference to the gardens of American settlers and homesteaders. These brave people grew gardens for food and beauty with nary a drop of pressurized irrigation water and without the aid of the combustion engine. It’s now 2011 and heirloom gardens are hotter than ever. This enlightening program will look at what kinds of gardening techniques and principles still work in today’s gardens, and why.

Mary Ann Newcomer
Pioneering Gardening Techniques
Why Heirloom Gardens Still Work Today
Thursday, February 24 at 1:30 pm in the Hood Room

Mary Ann Newcomer, scribe-scout-and-speaker, blogs at and appears regularly as the “Dirt Diva” on the River Radio, 94.9 in Boise, ID. An accomplished horticulturalist, garden designer and former President of the Idaho Botanical Garden, she has wielded her creative and design talents on public, private and commercial gardens and landscapes. Mary Ann is currently finishing The Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Resource, to be published by Cool Springs Press in 2011. In 2009 her blog was selected as one of Horticulture magazine’s top garden blogs for her writing. 


Many of the plants mentioned in the Old and New Testament are surprisingly hardy and suitable for our public and private Northwest landscapes. Gardeners and religious groups desiring a deeper understanding of the plants of scriptures, and for planning a Biblical garden of their own, will enjoy this entertaining inter-denominational slide lecture full of Biblical references, art, history and folklore. The lecture shows examples of how to design, plant and label an unusual and attractive theme garden for the home, school or church based on plants mentioned in the Scriptures.

Shirley Pinchev Sidell
Plants of the Bible
Planting a Scripture Garden in the Pacific Northwest
Thursday, February 24 at 5:30 pm in the Hood Room

Avid expert gardener, Shirley Pinchev Sidell is called a visionary by those who know her. Combined with her Master of Fine Arts in Photography, Shirley’s passion is her garden and taking photographs of flowers and plants from world famous gardens, such as Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Monet’s garden at Giverny, France. She conceived the Biblical garden theme during a trip to the Holy Land several years ago, since so many plants were familiar because of similar growing conditions with her own garden. Traveling throughout the world and studying Bible gardens, Shirley has obtained a wealth of knowledge on Bible plants and Bible gardens. Website:


The beauty of gardens has inspired poetry for centuries, uniting our love of words with our love for the landscapes and plants that feed our souls. Hear the words that have thus been inspired and inspire us to continue our pursuit of gardening, encompassing our passions, motivations, frustrations, foibles and successes with all their attendant sorrows, joys, anger and humor.

Richard Greenberg
Poetry Inspired by Gardens
Speaking to the Spirit & Psych of Gardening
Wednesday, February 23 at 12:30 pm on the DIY Stage

Founder of Earth Wizardry Landscape, Richard Greenberg is a designer that specializes in small urban gardens with low maintenance and drought tolerant plants. He is a past president of the King County Iris Society and is involved in the Northwest Perennial Alliance, the Northwest Horticulture Society and the Arboretum Foundation. He is a regular speaker at area nurseries including Swansons, Molbak’s, Sky and City Peoples Mercantile. Richard is originally from the Boston area and has been living in the Pacific Northwest for 28 years. – Janet


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