Finally, the last of my reports on the wonderful Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I’ll start this week with a garden called “Peter and the Wolf—A Landscape Symphony”, which won a Silver Medal but failed to impress either Steve Whysall who writes gardening for the Vancouver Sun, or I! Here is what the creators, Fancy Plant Gardens, had to say about their garden: “Do you remember the story of Peter and the Wolf? Peter visits his Grandfather’s house beside a meadow in a deep forest. There he plays with his friends Bird, Duck and Cat, and he is warned not to leave the gate open, for in the woods hunters are seeking a dangerous Wolf!
“This story is about two different worlds: the cultured and the wild. Grandfather’s garden is an orderly refuge from the wilderness outside. Beyond his gate, a path winds through the natural world to a bench beside a pond, where passing hunters might stop to rest.
“Just like in Prokofiev’s symphony, the characters in this setting are represented by musical instruments (the creator worked with a local artist to depict these in glass).”
Steve said to me he didn’t get any logical connection with what was being attempted, and how the garden actually turned out. I agreed; but nevertheless it did win a Silver Medal!
The second garden in this group, “The Dinner Bell Rings: Eat Your Yard”, was another of which I took no photos—because while the theme was interesting I found no great angles or vistas. The creator, Cascadian Edible Landscapes, said about the garden: “Incorporating ‘edibles’ into a garden design; this garden is a symphonic demonstration of this growing trend. The goal: 99% of the plants used are edible!
“Abundant and edible landscapes reconnect urban dwellers with each other and the sources of their sustenance. This garden’s practical design engages all five senses, utilizing creative applications of recycled and affordable materials for today’s cost and environmentally conscious ‘urban homesteading’ family.”
This garden won no less than three ‘best of’ awards presented by three local magazines. Obviously I should have tried harder to get a shot of this one!
The next garden I looked at and photographed was “Twistin’ the Night Away”. The creator, Dakara Landscape Design, said, “A pathway of cocoa bark twists and leads to a spacious patio for wine tasting under twinkling lights. With the sounds of cascading water filling the senses with renewal, meander down to the bridge for a moment of reflection. Take in the sight of the waterfall as its waters empty into a heart-shaped pool.”
“Twistin’ the Night Away” won a Bronze Medal as did the next one, “If I Write You a Song …(in the Garden tonight, will you come?)”. Here is what its creator, Nancy Claire Guth of Artistic Garden Concepts said of her garden: “An ode to love songs—and the hopeless romantic in all of us—this garden incorporates five species of one of the Northwest’s most enduring favorites: the Rhododendron. Conifers, flowering shrubs, bulbs and other plantings set the stage for an inviting, traditional garden environment with its ‘living’ dinner table constructed of re-purposed wood pallets.”
“Specimen Foray” was the simple title of the next garden which was one of the few to win a Gold Medal. It was created by Heritage Tree and Land and as I hinted last week, though it won a Gold Medal, I did not think it deserved that—perhaps a Silver Medal might have been more appropriate. The reasons I say this is that the main feature was a leafless Japanese maple, a lovely, well-shaped tree that was planted in a huge mound of soil, obviously to cover the huge ball of soil the company had to dig in order to protect the tree’s roots.
For most garden judges whom I know this would have been unacceptable to have the tree atop such a huge mound—rather the entire exhibit should somehow have been raised, and perhaps the soil ball could have had some of its depth trimmed off. You will see what I mean from the one picture I took. There might also have been yet another way of retaining all of the soil ball and not have the appearance of a tree on a huge mound—by setting the tree against a building façade at the mound’s height, and then a gentle slope away from the building. That would have meant a not-so-obvious tree-on-a-mound setting.
Nevertheless, the judges did award the Gold Medal. We cannot all think alike!
“Rock & Roll Meets Heavy Metal—The Convergence Zone” won a Silver Medal for the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals. The creators said, “Inspired by the Puget Sound Convergence Zone, this gar-den celebrates the symphony of winter plants, rain, wind, rock and metal exploding in a crescendo of texture and color.
“Sit under an architecturally striking balcony shelter and be embraced from the weather as it converges over the garden. Sculptural rock pierces lush plantings that are framed by a forest of stunning white birch and evergreens. They stand sentinel over a river of Acorus grass cascading down the slope to the rain garden. Between winter storms, this garden invites one to wander over a stepping stone path that appears to float over the garden.
“A mesmerizing kinetic metal sculpture danced in the wind and visually intertwines with rock and natural elements to create a special place to find calm and shelter.”
The metal sculpture was a show visitors’ favourite as far as I could tell. But for me the newer cultivar of Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ was also ‘special’!
Although it only won a Bronze Medal, Wight’s Home & Garden’s display entitled “April in Paris” deserved more! This is how they described it: “April in Paris is a visual rendition of the song made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1950. A Parisian street scene comes to life with its public park, café, Boulangerie and a simple, yet elegant garret of an artist.
“A brick path fronts the buildings, winding past a fresh cut flower cart and market stall of bulbs for planting. Plant material includes spring blooming favorites, formal hedging material and stretches of lawn. Plant choices and design are meant to reflect the European style of casual symmetry, varied texture and lots of color. The ad-joining park with benches nestled amongst the flora and a fountain or two completes this vision of springtime in Paris.
On the main display garden show floor there were also a couple of other gardens which I have not mentioned, and also, three very small gardens dedicated to small space gardening, containers and use of re-cycled materials. The three were jointly called “Living it Up” and all featured limited-space gardening inspiration through the use of plantings, outdoor décor and planters. Minimalism doesn’t have to be small in idea, beauty or function. You can experience a bounty of creative ideas to turn that ‘small space’ environment into a grand and minimal entertaining space.
The highlight of these three, I thought, was “A Garden of Fragments” created by Pamela Richards Garden Design for which she won a Bronze Medal. This one featured “fragments saved from previous gardens, re-purposed materials and cuttings from generous neighbors can be artfully assembled to create a tantalizing small garden. The small space garden is a place to relax and savor a garden with a special personal history.
“The ideas were endless: cascading grasses, splashes of pink, dark feathery ferns and pale flowers tumbling from a container to re-create fondly-remembered combinations. Re-purposed furniture, fabric from grandmother’s trousseau, old Christmas tree balls and worn garden art can all be positioned for the desired effect.”
Unfortunately I did not get a good overall photo of this one but I am able to show you two colourful shots; one of a new prostrate pine (Pinus sylvestris viridis prostrata ‘Hillside Creeper’) and one of the containers well-planted including a fully-forced flowering shrub.
I cannot conclude this report without mentioning the five gardens done entirely by high school horticulture students in area schools. Under the heading of “Funky Junk”, the gardens focused on found and recycled materials used in inventive ways. Regretfully, these gardens were hidden in their against-the-wall location by tall curtaining backing the adjacent Japanese flower arranging exhibit. Once you found them they were great! The fun and youthful approach to garden design blended plants and greenery with found objects. From painted umbrellas and hard hats to rustic tree stumps and miniature moss-covered dwellings, you never knew what you were going to see next. I’ve included pictures of all the entries in this category.
Finally, Silver Medal winning “The Resonating Sounds of Nature—Finding Peace and Solace in the Garden” was inspired by the work of Dr. Jeffery Thompson, Director of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research in California. It was an eclectic Northwest garden that created a three-dimensional sound environment based on primordial sounds found in nature—taking visitors back to the beginning of mankind’s journey. This was a concept that others may well follow as a theme for future garden show displays. I wrote the foregoing about this garden two weeks ago in my first article of this series. However, at that time I thought I had not taken any photos, and just this week found some, and three are included here now. Also included is one shot of a ‘musical instrument mechanical fountain’ as found in the display that was also in one of the commercial booths.