Northwest garden news in brief includes: a celebration at Bloedel Reserve, a lecture from Kathryn Gustafson, award-winning roses, the sad end for Heronswood Nursery, a new look for Bellevue Botanical Garden, feet for your pots and stones for your feet.

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Happy birthday, Bloedel

On the eve of Bloedel Reserve’s 20th anniversary, the American Public Garden Association has honored the Bainbridge estate with the Horticulture Magazine Award for Garden Excellence. Here’s how director Dick Brown describes the unique experience of visiting Bloedel: “Visitors move safely through a choreographed sequence of nature experiences at their own pace, enjoying a tranquil respite from the pressures of the outside world.” See for information on how to visit.

Hear from a landscape master

The garden event of the season will be Kathryn Gustafson’s Miller Memorial lecture, “Landscape in a Changing Environment.” On Thursday, Oct. 23, this internationally renowned landscape architect will tell us about her projects around the globe. For information on how to score tickets to this free event at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall, call the Miller Library at 206-543-0415 or e-mail

Winning roses

Like a bad-news girlfriend, roses are so seductive it’s easy to forget how much trouble they are. If you must succumb to their charms, choose from this list of 2008 All-American Roses selected specifically for Pacific Northwest growing conditions: ‘About Face,’ ‘Carefree Wonder,’ Crimson Bouquet,’ ‘Honey Perfume,’ ‘Sunset Celebration,’ ‘Day Breaker,’ ‘Marmalade Skies,’ ‘Cherry Parfait,’ ‘Gemini’ and ‘Fourth of July.’ To visit an image gallery of all the winners, see

Heronswood story comes to a close

The tale of Heronswood is Northwest legend: banishment of a popular, talented duo, a gallant quest by a band of dedicated supporters, and oh, what a villain! All it lacks is a happy ending.

The glory days of Heronswood Nursery, with its mecca-status display gardens, gave us a sense of ourselves in the gardening world. Heronswood’s bright light shone on all of us, which is why, when George Ball pulled the plug in May 2006, we reeled in shock.

The Pacific Northwest Horticultural Conservancy formed with a goal to buy and restore the property as an educational facility. No one could have been more patient with Ball than chair Lee Neff, but financial realities and Ball’s unreality shut the effort down.

“In the two-year gap since the nursery closed we saw our support gradually erode,” wrote Neff in an e-mail. “We were therefore faced with the fact that today’s economy and folks’ other interests meant that we just couldn’t raise the money needed to complete the project as envisioned.”

The $60,000 that the conservancy raised will be divided between Islandwood on Bainbridge, the Washington Park Arboretum and the Garden Conservancy, to benefit the Chase Garden.

If you’re interested in picking up a world-famous garden for $3 million, see

Functional footwork

PotRisers, the brain child of local container designer Tabitha Anderson, are my favorite new garden product. They are sturdy little blocks of recycled material, easily stuck under pots to “float” them above the ground. They protect decking, help pots drain efficiently, and, best of all, you can’t see them. Four of the rubbery little things support a whopping 1,600 pounds. You can find PotRisers at local nurseries or order them at; $12.99 for a 12-pack, or buy in bulk, $59.99 for enough little feet to support 25 containers.

Enlighten your garden with stepping stones embedded with solar lights. The “stones” are made of fiberglass and resin, with a built-in battery and bright LED bulb that never needs replacing. Set these glowing stepping stones into grass or gravel for nighttime safety without cords or wire. Cost is $29.95 each or $99.95 for a set of four; each paver is a foot square, an inch thick and waterproof.

Botanical garden will get a new look

After months of confusion, with designers and volunteers in turmoil, the Northwest Perennial Alliance is moving ahead to renovate the perennial borders at Bellevue Botanical Garden. Two of the border’s original designers, Glenn Withey and Charles Price, are leading the major remodel. Stairs, walls and more paths are planned, as well as an updated plant palette for the 22,000-square-foot border, one of the largest demonstration gardens of its kind in the U.S. Stay tuned . . .

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