Northwest NEWS

April 15, 2002

Home & Garden


Fair is for the gardeners at heart

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   Picture your front, side or back yard transformed into a beautiful grassy meadow interspersed with a colorful patchwork of wildflowers. With a few tips and some horticultural advice, that scenic mental vision can come true.
   Brett Johnson, owner of Green Man Gardens on Mercer Island, will show you how at the Spring Garden Fair on Saturday, April 20, at Woodmoor Elementary from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
   In his "Gardening With Native Plants" workshop scheduled for noon, Johnson will discuss ways to create a wildflower meadow. "I'll be talking about native plants and how to create a more naturalistic meadow," he says, adding that native plants are his specialty and he'll have some for sale at the workshop. As a landscaper and consultant, Johnson proposes a meadow as an alternative to the traditional lawn. He likes to use Idaho and creeping fescue.
   "Our native grasses are bunch grasses, not sod forming grass," he explains and goes on to describe their picturesque look. "In wintertime the fescue are bright green and in summer they turn blue."
   But Johnson doesn't plan to talk only of ornamental grasses at the workshop. He has a lot to say about wildflowers too, especially the showier types native to this area, such as camass.
   "It's a beautiful blue flowered bulb in the lily family," he notes. "It's gorgeous. Very easy to grow."
   He also recommends Oregon sunshine, a yellow daisy with tiny wooly-silvered leaves.
   Says Johnson, "It forms a dense ground cover in between the grasses." He mentions that the iris tenax, another native wildflower, enhances a meadow's appearance with its dainty, lavender blue-denim flowers. "I'll have examples of all the things I'm talking about," he says. "You can see, feel and touch."
   The Fair, including Johnson's hands-on workshop, presents the community an opportunity to learn more about the joys of environment-friendly gardening.
   Deborah Rannfeldt, public information coordinator for the Woodinville Water District and one of the Fair sponsors, states, "The purpose (of the Spring Garden Fair) is to provide residents with information at the beginning of the gardening season about how to have a water wise, healthy landscape."
   Other informative Garden Fair workshops include, 'Drought Tolerant Landscaping' by Ladd Smith at 10 a.m.; "Home Composting Made Easy' by Paul Martin at 11 a.m. and 'Growing Great: Best Tips for a Beautiful, Salmon Friendly Garden' by Mary Robson at 1 p.m.
   Robson writes a garden column for the Seattle Times and is a faculty member with WSU Cooperative Extension and a WSU Master Gardener.
   In addition to the workshops, a native plant sale, rain barrel information, mulching lawn mower demonstrations, complimentary refreshments and activities for children will round out the day's agenda.
   Rannfeldt mentions that one planned activity will allow kids to see the water cycle in action when they make their own mini-plant terrarium out of Slurpee cups and 2-inch plants supplied by Molbak's. Each child will also receive a miniature toy dinosaur to place inside their terrarium as a reminder they drink the same water as the dinosaurs once did.
   The clear plastic domed lid on top of the Slurpee cup will complete the project. "They'll cover up the hole at the top with a Weeble that has the words 'Don't be a water hog,'" Rannfeldt says.
   Master Gardeners will be on hand to help the kids with their plant activities and will also answer plant questions from the kids and adults attending the fair.
   A compost bin sale will be held next door at Northshore Junior. High.
   The annual Spring Garden Fair began in 1994 and was held at the Woodinville Water District facility until two years ago when the Fair moved to Woodmoor, the largest elementary school in Washington state, which also has two water wise demonstration gardens on site.
   Other sponsors of the event include the Northshore Utility District contributing staff support and supplies and the City of Woodinville sponsoring the compost bin sale.
   Admission is free and each class attendee will receive a free bag of Cedar Grove Compost. Woodmoor is located at 12225 NE 160th in Bothell.
   For further information, contact Deborah Rannfeldt at the Woodinville Water District, (425) 487-4102 or Mike Brent at the Northshore Utility District at (425) 398-4419.
   For more information on the compost bin sale, contact Amy Ensminger at the City of Woodinville, (425) 489-2700, Ext. 2240.
   To reach Brett Johnson, e-mail: or call (206) 232-5734.