Mother& daughter team up for garden show

Published on Thu, Feb 2, 2006 by Tara Nelson

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Mother & daughter team up for garden show

By Tara Nelson

For Dianna MacLeod and Lacy Best there are several important ingredients to building a garden – an old fashioned swing, a four-foot high pink glass water fountain and a pathway built of pink bubble gum balls.

MacLeod, of Blaine, and her daughter, Lacy, will scramble to install this garden in three days of allotted time when they compete in the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, February 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

MacLeod has competed solo in the show twice before – in 2001 and 2003 – winning a bronze prize both times. This year, however, she has teamed with Best, 23, of Bellingham, an artist and woodworker by trade, to create the concept and facilitate the installation.

MacLeod, a self-taught gardener, started her landscaping maintenance business called “Scotland Yards” in Blaine approximately 10 years ago, she said. In 1996, she returned to school at the University of British Columbia to study landscape design, graduating in 1998 with her degree. She also earned a creative achievement award for her concept of “The Fire Walk,” a themed garden design, for which she won a bronze award when she entered it in the garden show in 2001.

This year’s entry, called “Grandma’s Garden: Where Imagination Meets Memory,” is a tribute to the 180-acre farm and garden kept by MacLeod’s grandmother in Willamette Valley in Oregon, as well as MacLeod’s mother, who passed away in 2003.

“The first plant (my mother) gave me was a forget-me-not,” she said. “I think she planted a seed in my brain because I’ve always associated forget-me-not with my mom.”

Grandma is represented by the 60 varieties of heirloom plants including Columbine Aquilegia viridflora from 1790, Columbine ‘Rosea’ Aquilegia flabellate v pumila from 1887, and French Marigold ‘Moonlight’ from 1573.

The swing and the bubblegum pathway represent the years of youth, while a bench shaped in the form of the Greek goddess Aphrodite at the end of the serpentine path represents a woman looking back on her life. Lilacs, daffodils and clematis vines add a romantic touch.

“It starts in youth and it ends up at the end of your life,” she said. “The middle of her life would be the pond and at the end would be the bench is where she’s looking back on the different parts of her life.”

Local donors include Gary McWilliams, a stone sculptor of Bellingham, who is donating the Aphrodite bench and a birdbath made from stone, which he found in Alaska; Barbara Sanderson, a glass blower in Everett, who created the glass fountain and the pink and silver hand-blown glass bubbles to float in the pond for a “shimmering effect”; and Pond’s Edge Nursery in Deming in cooperation with Mt. Baker high school horticulture students who will “force” perennials and annuals to bloom in time for the show.

Themes and symbolism in gardening is nothing new to MacLeod, although her former creations had a darker mood. The “Fire Walk” garden, for example, featured eight-feet tall medieval doors patched with moss to create an “ancient” look, a ribbon of red tulips representing a river of lava flowing under a stone bridge, and lots of red, purple and fiery tones. She commissioned two local artists to create a goddess emerging from one of the doors holding an amulet, which MacLeod designed. The door was half open as a challenge to enter the garden, she said.

“The idea is to take amulet for protection and then walk the fire walk,” she said. “And the idea behind the fire walk is to find your inner strength and to face your fears. If you make it through that, you will end up in the sanctuary, which is the other part of the garden.”

Her second garden entry, “Edgar Allen Poe Garden,” featured a “picnic in the graveyard” including tombstones, a nine-foot tall raven carved from a cedar stump, a fence built with the help of Blaine high school woodworking students, and a replica of Poe’s bed in the center of the garden.

This year’s garden, however, is more lighthearted and feminine, she said, and based on Best’s affection for cherry blossoms, glitter, and memories of a childhood friend – concepts that will likely be in contrast with other entries.

“It seems the shows have been more directed toward a more masculine side,” Best said. “When I think of a garden I think it is a woman’s place because most gardeners are women. The shows have become very hard and dominated by hardscape such as rock walls, buildings, waterfalls, and not a lot of color. I’m not a gardener but I’m artistic. I love cherry blossoms so there’s a lot of cherry blossoms, pink – lots and lots of pink – and glitter.”

MacLeod agreed.

“We wanted a garden that was very feminine, that celebrated women and a place where a grandmother could take her grand daughter or her mother and you could all stand in front of it and get something out of it,” she said.

For now, however, the two are concentrating on the logistics of making bubblegum waterproof.

“Our biggest concern is the water, if water hits bubblegum the way it is, the color will just run,” MacLeod said. “We tried spray glue and lacquer, and those didn’t work. We might just try spray painting them pink or using glass balls. So it’s part horticulture, it’s part theatrics.”

The show is scheduled for five days – Wednesday, February 8 through Saturday, February 11, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday, February 12 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Convention Center in downtown Seattle. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.gardenshow.com.