Going green (and blue) in the garden

Seattle’s venerable Northwest Flower & Garden Show catches Seahawks fever

craig.sailor@thenewstribune.comJanuary 29, 2014 

Jason Russell will be one of the few diehard Seahawks fans not watching the Super Bowl on Sunday — even though he’ll be immersed in blue and green. And fire and water.

Instead of cheering on his team, Russell will be installing a Seahawks-themed deck and garden at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, held Feb. 5-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

The Tacoma resident and owner of Dr. Decks has just hours to put together the elaborate creation which marks his sophomore effort at the show.

Russell’s deck features a Seahawks logo, a living plant wall, moving water, “phantom furniture” and a bubbling tube that glows green and blue and spouts fire.

Russell calls it, “The ultimate deck for the 12th man.” Officially, its name is “A Conduction of Vigorous Immersion: Seattle’s Best Artists Enhance Your Flow.” Art is the theme of this year’s show.

The deck might seem over the top but Russell is the same man who last year created a garden based on the movie “Alien.” Russell lives to one-up himself.

He started work on the deck a month ago — long before it was determined that the Seahawks would be going to New Jersey.

“I just wanted everyone to support our team — not knowing they were going to the Super Bowl.”

Support is what decks are all about. But this one goes beyond holding up a barbecue and a couple of deck chairs. Working with linear actuator maker Progressive Automation, Russell has installed four elements that he calls “phantom automated furniture.”

Russell describes the deck as, “What’s next in outdoor living.”

The most striking of the phantom furniture is a 4-by-8-foot Seahawks logo in the deck’s floor. At the touch of a button the hawk head (with glowing green eye) rises up to become a picnic table. Nearby, a plank of Azek decking rises to become a guard rail when needed and still another section rises to serve as a lounge chair.

The most complex hidden feature is a 12-foot long staircase that converts into a wheelchair ramp. The genesis of that came from Russell’s “Alien” garden. “I had a lot of upset people last year who couldn’t get into the garden,” he said.

The eye-catching centerpiece of the display garden is a five-foot tall acrylic tube that bubbles in the glow of blue and green LED lights. Tongues of flame, fed by natural gas, shoot from the top.

He’s named the flaming fountain “Nebuchadnezzar” after the spaceship in “The Matrix” film and after the ancient ruler who is said to have created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The fountain sits in a 10-foot wide pool. Behind it is a ClipStone mortarless wall that supports dozens of water jets. The water from those feed a lazy river flowing through gaps between the planks.

It doesn’t stop there. Russell’s brother Kevin is a Seattle neon artist. He’s created a group of blue and green neon jelly fish that will hang in space over the garden. “A grouping of jellyfish is considered a bloom,” Russell said, mindful that he’s participating in a flower show.

Plants, including Tasmanian pepper bush, black bamboo and hellebores, are being supplied by Tsuki Nursery of Olympia.

“I’m putting in some really weird and unusual stuff,” Tracey Kosenski, owner of the nursery said.

Plants also will rise vertically on a wall that is 7 feet tall by 20 feet long. Rocks from Marenakos Rock Center in Issaquah will fill out a 30 square feet space.

Russell estimates that with parts and labor the deck is worth at least $250,000 and probably more. He expects to get little of that back. His “Alien” deck from last year’s show is currently in his backyard.

“I’m going to end up with another deck unless Pete Carroll walks up and wants it for the practice facility,” Russell said.


Northwest Flower & Garden Show

When: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Feb. 5-8, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 9

Where: Washington State Convention Center, Seventh and Pike avenues, Seattle.

Tickets: $17 adult before Feb. 4, $22 at door, see website for discounts and multiday passes.

Information: 253-756-2121, gardenshow.com, drdecks.com.

Other locals in the show

 •  The Tacoma mother-daughter team of Sue and Courtney Geotz have created a dual generation garden featuring two cottages — one unplugged for artist mom and one plugged in for video-game-playing daughter.

 •  Creative Gardener/Urban Garden Company (thecreativegardener.com)

 •  Olympia’s Landen Moore of Nature Perfect has designed a restful retreat with a Japanese Torii gate and carved boulders holding pools of water.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 craig.sailor@thenewstribune.com

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