Set your alarm for this garden show in Puyallup

Annual event at Puyallup Fair ShowPlex starts Thursday

craig.sailor@thenewstribune.comApril 17, 2013 

Visitors to this week’s Puyallup Spring Fair might suddenly get the urge to take a long nap when they walk into the ShowPlex.

The fair’s concurrent garden show features a garden bed in the most literal sense. It’s one of several displays at the four-day show that also features daily gardening seminars, vendors and information booths.

Sumner’s “Mark the Pond Guy” has built a waterfall inside the display garden of Issaquah’s Marenakos Rock Center. But it’s the fair’s staff that will have the most rest-inspiring patch of living earth. They’ve planted a garden inside a king-size cherry bed frame.

“Instead of a bedspread, it will be flowers,” said fair staffer Margie Heinz. “It will be like Grandma’s box quilt”

A traditional quilt grid pattern is made of red geraniums, white pansies and blue lithodora. The pansies also will make white pillows.

“You see a lot of people use the brass bed (in garden displays). It’s the same concept. I don’t think people would take their new Sleep Country bed and do this but it’s giving people a taste of spring,” she said.

Adjacent to the bed will be a dresser with geraniums, pansies, ivy and grasses. “We’re planting three drawers with the plants cascading out,” Heinz said.

On Tuesday Daniel Harp, son of “Mark (Harp) the Pond Guy,” was pouring bucket after bucket of decorative rock around the boulder-filled waterfall he had just built in the Marenakos display. The stone was softened by chartreuse colored Epimedium and jet black Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass).

The 30-by-60-foot display garden took about two days to set up, said Jan Nielsen, special projects manager for Marenakos. It was filled with boulders, a rustic Torii gate, trees, stone seats, pillars and tables and pallet after pallet of rock in the raw.

Nielsen said his crew likes the free-form design style of garden shows because his crew can design as they build. “We just get to play,” he said. Nielsen is also president of the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association.

The entire Marenkos display uses about 200 tons of rock, Nielsen said. Stacks of stone ranging from blue to brown and from finely cut to free-form were stacked around the garden.

All four days will have garden-related speakers including garden guru Ciscoe Morris and newspaper columnist Marianne Binetti. Other speakers will cover beekeeping, noxious weed control and rose care, among other subjects.

About 60 garden-related vendors and nonprofit organizations will be offering plants, products and information. The WSU Master Gardeners will be holding plant clinics and children’s workshops.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541

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