January 31, 2000
John Klemmedson (left), member of the Flower Growers of Puget Sound, and designer Vi Kono put the finishing touches on this year's garden creation for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Klemmedson has built the structures for Kono's gardens for the past four years.
by Deborah Stone
The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is the third-largest spring flower show in the country. The event, now in its twelfth year, was founded by Seattle businessman and avid gardener Duane Kelly in 1989, and is visited by over 85,000 people every year.
Probably the most exciting and anticipated aspect of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show are the show gardens. This year's show features twenty-seven of the top Northwest landscape designers and nurseries with their latest designs. These full-size, elaborate displays feature an assortment of garden materials, including waterfalls, blossoming flowers of almost every variety, unique lawn ornaments, impressive trees, and much more.
Local resident Vi Kono, a landscape designer and the founder of the Woodinville Garden Club, is in her fifth year of designing show gardens for the Flower Growers of Puget Sound, a consortium of twenty-five wholesale and retail greenhouses. Kono's creation for the upcoming show is entitled "Feathering the Nest," and is intended to be a haven for gardeners and their fine-feathered friends.
"I think this is the first time anyone has created a bird garden," says Kono. "I came up with the idea and decided to try some things out in my own garden last summer. I built a sapling fence and thirty birdhouses; I wanted to see what they would look like after weathering. I was pleased with the results and I'm using them in the show."
Kono's display features an old garden house as the central piece. It is a place of relaxation for family and friends to gather and marvel at the abundance of nature. Kono has chosen various trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers to attract birds and provide food and shelter for them. There will also be birdbaths and feeders to draw songbirds into the garden. An aviary with four doves will authenticate the exhibit even further.
"Feathering the Nest" is in a prime location at the show with an 870-square-foot space that can be seen on all sides. Kono feels fortunate to have this space once again and be associated with such a prestigious show. She says, "It's so exciting to be involved in this event, as it brings together such wonderfully interesting and talented people in the world of gardening."
Kono spends most of the preceding year thinking of a design for the next show. It takes her time to collect ideas and accessory materials and then lay out the design for submission to the Flower Growers of Puget Sound. The greenhouses provide all the plants that are used for the display and they must start early in order to get the plant material to grow. This means that conditions must be simulated within the greenhouses to force growth in the plants.
Kono's display will take three and a half days to install by a crew of volunteers from the Woodinville Garden Club.
"You can't do it without lots of help," explains Kono. "The house and the fences need to be assembled on the first day. Then next comes the big plant material and the framework around the garden. The third day is the longest day, as we plant from about eight in the morning until eleven at night."
"Feathering the Nest" will emphasize a myriad of colors and textures, and according to Kono, it will be a feast for the senses. She says, "The garden is my palette, and I design with color, texture, and space. With this display, I wanted much diversity in order to attract the birds."
Gardening, for Kono, has been a lifelong passion. She graduated from college in the school in interior design and then became a self-taught landscape designer over the years.
"People would see my garden and then approach me about helping them with their gardens. Although I had no formal training in the field, I had an understanding of the principles of design from my schooling. I learned more as I went along. Even though I've been doing this now for over twenty-five years, I am still learning.
"You can always learn more about plants because there are continuously new types of plants and gardening materials that come out. I love the challenge of gardening and planning for the changes over time. It's a labor of love that gives me such satisfaction."
The Northwest Flower & Garden Show opens Feb. 2 and runs through Feb. 6 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in downtown Seattle.
In addition to Kono, there are two garden creators and one interior designer from the Northshore area taking part in the Show. Linda Fraser of the LBL Landscape Group is creating "Backyard Pleasures," a garden with a deck and nearby babbling brook. Tom Berg of Berg's Landscaping is creating "The 19th Hole," a custom-made putting green for backyards. There will be a deck and fountain, both made from golf clubs. Lind Metsker will create a dining room for the Seattle Design Center's "DesignHome" for Herbfarm chef Jerry Traunfeld.
Other features at the Garden Show include: one acre of fully-landscaped display gardens, 350 commercial exhibitors displaying trees, bulbs, custom handcrafts, and garden goodies, the Northwest's largest orchid show with more than 20,000 orchids on display and for sale, and more than 40 educational booths.
New this year will be A Contempoary Theater's (ACT) production of All the World's A Sage: A Botanical Theatrical in One Act. Tickets are $10; call 206-789-5333.
Show hours are 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Wed. through Sat., and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices are $14.50 at the door; $12.50 after 5 p.m. at the door; $11.50 for groups of 20 or more. (Call 206-789-5333 to purchase.) Children 11 and under are free. For more information, call the show hotline at 800-229-6311.