Nearly 100 residential gardens from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — as well as Bainbridge and Vashon islands — were entered...

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Nearly 100 residential gardens from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — as well as Bainbridge and Vashon islands — were entered in the 15th-annual Pacific Northwest Gardens: A Competition for Home Gardeners. The Seattle Times’ Pacific Northwest magazine and the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, in cooperation with the Arboretum Foundation, sponsored the event.

This year’s grand-prize winner receives round-trip airfare for two to England for the May 2008 Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, as well as five nights’ lodging. The second-place winner receives airfare and admission for two to the March 2008 San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, with two nights’ lodging. Third prize brings a $500 cash award.

Sixty-four volunteer judges, in 16 teams of four, were instructed and guided by Arboretum Foundation staff — also volunteers — as they used scoring sheets to rate each garden. Their job was to consider the many factors that contribute to a successful garden, including design, plant diversity, creativity and attention to ecological concerns. Gardens advanced in three rounds of judging.

Second-round judges — Ruth Burrus, Jessi Bloom, Stacie Crooks and Greg Butler — traveled a 200-mile circuit to choose the three finalists among six gardens.

Judges for the final round were: Carolyn Jones, former director of the Elisabeth Miller Botanical Garden; designer Karen Stefonick, of Le Jardin Home, Garden & Ranch Design; and Lorene Edwards Forkner, former owner of Fremont Gardens Nursery. The Arboretum Foundation’s Janet Endsley, competition chairwoman, accompanied final-round judges.

— Dean Stahl