In this world of prequels and sequels, Wal-Marts and McDonald's, there just aren't many one-of-a-kind experiences. But coming up this...

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In this world of prequels and sequels, Wal-Marts and McDonald’s, there just aren’t many one-of-a-kind experiences. But coming up this month and next are two unique events. They make the top of my list for this season’s roundup of notable doings:

Art framed in nature

The E.B. Dunn Garden in North Seattle is hosting its first Midsummer’s Eve Art Walk July 21 and 22. Stroll this Olmsted-designed garden in its full summer glory, adorned with pieces from an impressive bunch of Northwest artists working in stone, fiber, watercolors, mosaics, beads, wood, glass and metal. Artists like David Chatt, Gayle Harris, Gerard Tsutakawa, Tony Angell and Johanna Nitzke Marquis probably couldn’t resist the chance to display their work in such a bucolic gallery. All the artwork is for sale; for information and tickets, see

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See ‘the best new garden’

Then on Saturday, Aug. 4, Robert Jones and Dan Hinkley open their private garden to benefit the Northwest Perennial Alliance. This is a rare opportunity to see Windcliff at its peak of agapanthus bloom. Hinkley and Jones will host and be available to answer questions. Docents will lead two 90-minute tours; the afternoon event costs $50 for NPA members, $75 for non-members. (There’s an incentive to join!) Or splurge on the $175/$200 evening event so you can munch on a buffet dinner catered by Greg Atkinson, Pacific Northwest mag columnist and former Canlis chef, while you enjoy the view from what Garden Design magazine recently named the best new garden in America. For more information, call Susan Latter at 425-481-6557, or sign up at

Nurseries the city sanctions

Green gardening, as with so many other vital initiatives, will become the norm only when it’s also good business. Which is why I’m heartened by Seattle Public Utilities’ list of local nurseries doing an especially good job educating customers on safe, sustainable gardening practices. To be selected, nurseries must also sell and promote earth-friendly products. Included on SPU’s 2007 list are Sky Nursery, City People’s Garden Store, DIG Floral and Garden, Furney’s Nursery, Magnolia Garden Center, Molbak’s, West Seattle Nursery and 14 more. At the very least, gardeners should demand nurseries without poisonous fumes. I can’t even walk up aisles in the big-box stores that stock all those nasty-smelling products. Find the complete list of the good guys at

Practical help for the planet

While we’re saving the earth one garden at a time, take a look at a new report by climate change specialist Patty Glick of the National Wildlife Federation. “A Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming” focuses on practical changes we can make in our own gardens to help prevent the frightening projection of 7- to 8-degrees-warmer summers in the Northwest by 2090, let alone wetter winters and drier summers. You can imagine what that means for the plant species we love, let alone how it’ll encourage those we don’t. Small changes in gardening, multiplied over millions of gardens, have a big effect. You can download the summary or full report at or call 206-285-8707, ext. 104, to request a copy.

The Ball keeps rolling

George Ball, infamous among Northwest gardeners for buying Heronswood Nursery in 2000 and then shutting it down, has once again tripped over his own tongue. This time NPR called him on it. Liane Hansen interviewed Ball about his Hellebore Open at what he calls Heronswood Nursery (except that it’s in Fordham, Pa.). He bragged that his hellebore-breeding program netted him big prizes at this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. His comments raised such outrage among listeners that NPR admitted they’d “stepped in a swamp” and brought on their “Doyenne of Dirt,” commentator Ketzel Levine, to explain why. Which she elegantly did, pointing out that it takes long years of precise breeding and detailed record-keeping to produce such hellebores, and while Ball may have bought the nursery and the stock, he can’t take credit for breeding the horticultural wonders he purchased from Dan Hinkley.

Oh, and if you plan on attending the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day at the real Heronswood on July 21 — the first time it’s been opened to the public since Ball closed it down in May 2006 — be aware that W. Atlee Burpee is the national sponsor for the Garden Conservancy. Yes, that’s George Ball’s company. See for information about their Bainbridge Island Open Day.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer and author of “A Pattern Garden.” Her e-mail address is

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