Thursday, February 19, 2009

guest blogging at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

I had a terrific time as guest blogger at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show yesterday. Show blogger Flora posted my story on the show’s site today. Click the link above to read it and other guest blogger’s accounts or simply read my recap here:

Bird’s Eye View: Backyard Inspiration from a Bevy of Designers

Fueled on coffee, kids at school, camera in hand— we were on a mission: gather inspiration and ideas to imitate on a DIY budget for maximum backyard impact.

Our 1920’s home on a postage stamp lot is spiffy and chic. The covered front porch and fenceless yard intentionally engages us with passersby. And the backyard offers a private sanctuary… some day. But today? Despite boasting a pleasing wisteria-draped, pergola-topped perch of a deck, this backyard’s a disaster where even our two young sons rarely set foot. The view below? Let’s just say, yuck. Between a 9 year-old Labrador Retriever and a 90+ year old towering cedar tree there’s more droppings than drama in this shady enclosure.

Given its cozy confines, a below deck backyard bookended on either side by two decidedly scruffy garages, we came to the 2009 NWFGS with clear needs. Hubby and I desperately require garden solutions we can replicate on a budget, with bulletproof design and high style that’ll look good from above.

Today’s show sent us home— heads happily spinning— with ideas for layouts, structures, materials and plants to accomplish it all. Our top picks from this inspiring show were:

Graphic, large pavers, like at “Get Away To It All”, mean less cedar and dog clean-up for us. At three bucks per bag for cement, maybe we’ll even cast our own.

Water feature with oomph. Go a little Vegas with a submerged light like at “Welcome to Your Weekend”, invite rusticity like Steve Haizlip’s galvanized roof flashing spout at the “Nature’s Classroom” garden, or introduce whimsy with a Paul Balint-inspired “dock”, complete with cleats and boat’s rope.

Raised beds keep plants higher than dog-height, and closer to the human eye for intimate interaction. We vowed to take Click’s plant list, with its Tasmanian Tree Ferns, variegated Bear’s Breech and… oh heck, the entire list… and splurge on those plants. Designers Martha and Claire were our Show favorite, offering “carefully controlled views” from their garden room, which leads us to…

Consider the design from above. It helps having a tall hubby to take aerial shots. Should’ve known it was a Phil Wood design for the Arb: breathtaking! Mesmerized by the slope of the path and circular gathering spot.

Use minimal sod or Field Turf Northwest’s “Field of Pets” faux turf (booth 701) that inexplicably hooked me with its no muss promise. (Hubby was drawn to the Coast Cabin at this same booth. Cute loft!)

Driveway duty. And finally, where a driveway takes up much valuable real estate… intentionally incorporate it into a living space, like Adam Gorski so humorously showed in his ‘67 Mustang-frosted “A Garden I Love” confection.

Kat Spellman attended her fourth and final (sniff) NWFGS with hubby, and show-going- newbie, Stuart Miner. Kat’s a PR pro with strong plant yearnings. Stuart’s a real estate broker who often trudges through mud to explore Northwest properties in our wet clime. Both like moss, rocks, aspen and flowering currants.

Stuart Miner photo of me at our favorite display garden, "Click".

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