Steal this…2012 Northwest Flower and Garden show

We all know that display gardens at flower shows are a bit of theater in the midst of all that horticultural giddiness. Plant nerds almost hate to admit it (it’s all about the plants right?) but we go to the show to be entertained too. Give me an emotional response, not just a stone patio with primroses and red twig dogwood around it. I loved that I could wander to a boulangerie in Paris (Wight’s Garden) or drift off to the sound of a harp playing (Fancy Frond’s). When the Bluegrass band started playing (Susan Browne Landscaping) it made me smile and crave a tall glass of sweet tea and of course the slow rhythmic drip of water on drums from Sublime Garden Design beat to its own unique style of creativity.

Every time I design a garden for the show, I want to incorporate ideas that you can see in your own garden. I strive to be horticulturally accurate (right plants for the conditions we are mimicking),  incorporate garden elements that are usable in the real world (floating water steps, decking that overhangs the water for dipping your feet into) and then I want to give that moment of entertainment. When we heard repeatedly how people would love to sit on the chaise and nap, I knew we had hit the mark.

Re-defining Andante

Over the next few days I will share my steals and inspiration from the garden we designed at the 2012 Northwest Flower and garden show…

O. k… for me it is about the plants:

Variegated Farfugium plays along the water's edge
Epimedium, Deer Fern and Heuchera 'Melting Fire'

Create a plant palette. Much like an artist chooses colors that accent, blend, contrast and compliment each other; choose plants that do the same. Start with color. This plant palette played in the shade with burgundy and silver. Dark colored foliage in a shade garden needs contrast; silver and white variegated plants do the trick. The shape and habit of plants is also vital. The spiky foliage of ‘Silver Dragon’ Liriope against the ruffled deep colored foliage of ‘Crimson Curls’ Heuchera, flattered with the dissected fronds of Deer fern (Blechnum spicant) all bring out a tapestry on the ground. You don’t want plants to blur together in boredom; you want to play off the assets of each.

Bergenia 'Baby Doll'. Liriope 'Silver Dragon', Heuchera 'Green Spice' tucked with scotch moss along rockery edge

The heart-shaped foliage of Epimedium is perfect to weave around the ankles of Sweet box (Sarcococca ruscifolia) and the understory of trees to create an airy evergreen groundcover. Bergenia ‘Baby Doll’ in groupings made you look at this common plant in a whole new way. Plant this like a drifting puddle along the edges of pathways or rockery.


Then there was the darling (and a bit diva-like too) the Farfugium japoncium ‘Argenteum’. This bold foliage was an eye catcher along the edges of the pond, juxtaposed with the linear blades of ‘Elk’s Blue’ rush (Juncus patens). The leaves were bold enough to compete with the massive rock that made up the falls of the water feature. Placing plants next to large rock is not for the faint of foliage. Landscape rockery becomes more natural when plants are tucked around them; just remember to do it like you mean it. Give the rock some competition with bold foliage and color against it.

 

Pinch for tomorrow:
Water features are a lifestyle choice

2011 Northwest Flower and Garden show designer

It has been interesting…the questions about the Northwest Flower and Garden show. Who is Courtney Goetz, garden designer?

Here is your introduction

She is my 17-year-old daughter. She has two older sisters who had already started school when she was born, so she was my sidekick when I had a small garden business in Idaho. She became a child of the garden by osmosis. She simply absorbed her environment. She learned botanical names and rattled them off to customers as if they were her natural language as she puttered in the greenhouse with an oversized watering can.

Fast forward to 2004

In 2004, I built my first display garden at the show and Courtney was too young to help us build, but when the show opened, she came and handed out brochures. As I watched her work the crowds she was a natural, answering questions about plants, not intimidated at all by the massive crowds.  I wondered if she were to design a garden for the show, what it would look like.  

2005

A child of the Garden Grows

a bit of a blur...Courtney working the crowd in 2005

This was the garden I produced in 2005 based on Courtney’s ideas.   The centerpiece of the garden was a beautiful wood greenhouse made to look like a tree house resting on purple painted Madrona tree branches.  Courtney was once again too young to help us build, but I still remember the look in her eyes when she saw the completed garden for the first time. Magical!  She handed out brochures during the show again and she was an absolute pro. I had a woman pull me aside with a smile and say, “who is that child?” she is spouting off botanical names and telling great information. She was impressed and I was proud.

As time went on, Courtney helped build for the 2007 and 2009 shows. She finally was able to experience the creative hum of how the show really is built.  Show garden building has always been a family affair with my two oldest daughters  and husband pitching in. After the show in 2009, we were having a discussion around the dinner table and it came up that my rotation to do the show next would be her senior year in high school.  That crazy light bulb went off over her head, as we began to chatter about how fun it would be to make it her senior project.

Checking out plants for the 2011 show garden

Follow along as Courtney and I blog about the final countdown to the show in February.