U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My(?) Grandma's Garden

You thought it was Your grandma’s garden? And she? And he? They thought it was THEIR grandma’s garden? Is this why the ‘Christianson’s’ nursery display garden at the Northwest Flower and Garden show-2011 attracted so many admirers? Is this why we were all standing in front of it, nostalgically eyeing rustic outbuildings, old bike and watering cans, gnarled wood and plants, plants, plants…


Actually, the creators of the ‘A Day Well Spent’ display presented a unique garden which “depicts a typical family nursery from the 1940s with a rough-and-tumble easy charm ” where leftover plants often took root wherever they were last set down” (from the NWFGS newspaper).


'Once upon a time plants were started from seeds or cuttings, grown in pots or open fields and sold to customers at the same location. These small family nurseries took on an easy charm with leftover plants, bulbs, trees and shrubs sometimes taking root wherever they were last set down. Rows of trees could become permanent windbreaks and lined out shrubs could turn into fences. Seasons influenced the family's life with most of spring taken up with selling plants and the rest of the year with plant production in the growing fields surrounding the nursery.' - Wrote Toni Christianson in the Garden Gazette .


Can you imagine forcing all these bulbs, perennials and shrubs to bloom in February? I read that there is a special collection of mature big plants in the nursery’s greenhouse which are used for forcing and performing at the NWFG shows. When was that greenhouse built? 1946!




Did you notice the wheels on this mini-greenhouse made from old windows?





It was pure pleasure to see blooming tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, pansies, euphorbias and primulas, but delphiniums, roses, lily of the valley and bleeding hearts blew my mind away!


The potting shed made from repurposed materials was full of charming decorations for house and garden. Christianson's nursery, located in Mt. Vernon, Washington, has a wide selection of antiques and old world style things for sale. And where is its gift shop located? You’ll never guess: in the tractor garage! These are some products named in Christianson’s website: antique French and English watering cans, wicker furniture, antique gliders, bath products and salves, botanical stationery, candles made from horticultural oils, etc. As they say, “Everything that we love and can be considered botanical or horticultural by any stretch of the imagination makes its way to our shop.”



Two wisterias drew many Ahhs and Ohhs: Wisteria floribunda ‘Longissima Alba’ (White Japanese wisteria) and Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’ (Chinese Wisteria).


Cold frames were filled with seedlings in wooden trays.


Blooming viburnums (Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and doublefile Viburnum), flowering hosta… amazing!





Can fragrant aroma be one of the elements of a display? For me, it certainly was!


The following are my three pictures of Christianson’s nursery taken a couple of years ago. This is our must-stop during visits to the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (dates for 2011: April 1-30).

My grandma's garden was one thing that came to my mind when I saw Christianson’s display garden at the NWFGS-2011. At the same time, it reminded me of the nursery itself. Just look at this building with its white windows! Christianson’s team managed to bring the spirit of their place to the show. I hope to see them at the NWFGS next year. If not, well, Christianson’s is just a couple of hours away from us!

By the way, there is one more unique thing to see when you visit Christianson's : the 1888 school house, the oldest remaining one-room school house in Northwest Washington!

I bought some plants and garden decorations at the show, but what I treasure the most is the feeling of happiness, excitement and nostalgy, the sense of connection with time passed. A peaceful, simple but beautiful countryside would always be a place to return, at least in my mind, to regain energy and emotional strength which is necessary for dealing with the hustles and bustles of modern tech-filled life.

Credits: Christianson’s website, The Garden Show Blog .

***Copyright 2011 TatyanaS


  1. This is by far the best review I have read about for this show...You make me want to live in this display! Charming doesn't even come close.

  2. The barn doors, they make me catch my breath, I so would love a green house/cottage with those.

    Sounds like you had a great time, and got lot's of shots.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  3. Great post and pictures Tatyana. Love the primitive look of everything. One of these years I'm going to make it up to the showl.

  4. Wonderful walkthrough and pictures and just loved those pink Tulips.

  5. Thanks for sharing so many great photos of that display. I love it. So many ideas there and I love the ease of it. A great way to destress.

  6. What a great place. Nothing like linking to the past. We still grow our plants and veggies from seeds or as many as we can. We love the fruits of our labor. Beautiful photos.

  7. Ditto on what all the commentators said. A wonderful display and the way you presented and photographed it was really well done. Their nursery looks like a place I would love to visit.

  8. A terrific tour Tatyana and enjoyed the nostalgic vintage look. Flowers out of season though amazing are surely a contradiction in terms! Gardening is supposed to go with the flow - but then it's only a show and what a show this was. Thanks for all these amazing shots

  9. What a great display! I would love to visit a nursery like that. The display reminds me of my husband's great Aunt Opal. Her garden was very old fashioned and plants were sitting around in pots being rooted all over her yard. When she went to give some away, they had to be pulled out of the ground where they had rooted themselves into the soil. Thanks for this post that brought back so many memories. Carla

  10. Simply awesome. I could have spent hours there. Thank U.

  11. Tatyana, This was an excellent post about one of my favorite display gardens at the show. And you captured in your narrative exactly what it is that so appeals to everyone! I've been wondering if it was worth a trip up North to Christianson's, it's a long way for me. I just might make it this year!

  12. Dear Tatyana, What a wonderful slice of history! And such a clever display. I am always amazed at flower and garden shows how the exhibitors manage to have everything blooming for the show. I enjoyed my virtual visit of this one with you. Great post! P x

  13. Tatyana,

    Enjoyed the garden tour, very nice! In my memory it was my grandfathers garden, not grandmothers garden. My mom's dad had a 1 acre farm in town and grew veggies and sold them in front of the house. My dad's dad had nearly an acre of bearded irises over 350 varieties. Both my grandmothers did next to nothing outside.

  14. I can't figure out how to transcribe the sound of me kicking myself into words, so I'll just say I knew I would be missing out! Doh!!

    Christine in Alaska, no tulips

  15. Darla, Jen, Linda, Hermes, GOSS< Gloria, Donna,Laura, Carla, Joani, Alison, Pam, Randy, Christine, I am SO glad you enjoyed this display garden. Even people who live in contemporary houses or don't have gardens at all, have roots somewhere in countryside.

  16. Hard to believe this is a garden show display. It's amazing what they have been able to force to make it all look so real (and rugged!) Thanks so much for sharing. We all are striving a bit for "granddma's garden" aren't we??

  17. So pretty. I really like those tulips bloom. You make my day with all the wonderful photos.

  18. Tatyana,
    What a remarkable garden show display. It is the kind of place that does evoke the very thoughts you shared. Dreamy. The nursery is one I'd not want to miss either.

  19. Oh I need those people that set that up to come over to my place... please, please, pretty please!!

  20. I almost have 'charm' - my leftover plants are still in pots :)

  21. Dear Tatyana, I so love this post!! I want to move into whosever grandmother's garden that is. If only for the week or so the display is up. You see so many garden shows but this one is truly magical and feels so real. Lovely post!

  22. I simply love this display. The work they have into it and all of the details. I like rustic things and this does remind me of my grandparents gardening.I would love to have it in my back yard.

  23. Very charming and beautiful.

  24. The naturalness is blowing my mind

  25. Your post got me very excited about the Philadelphia Flower Show, which I am attending a week from today. I am babysitting the Delaware Valley Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society exhibit. They usually win awards, and I get to attend the show for free.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing this! Almost as good as actually being there! Would love to have been there.

  27. Tatyana,

    I enjoyed the wonderful background information you gave on the nursery. It is just charming along with all of the beautiful plantings.


  28. A very charming garden, very rustic indeed, and very unlike my grandmother's orderly rows of flowers. Thanks for the tour!

  29. Huge Cheers for you Tatyana! This is a fabulous post. I love that you took the time to really enjoy the Christianson's display. If I lived closer I'd be at this nursery all the time.

  30. Thank you for the great photos! It is an icy fog here with 3 feet of snow in the yard. Such great ideas. Who thought an old water tank would look good? The window greenhouse was pretty neat. I appreciated the respite even if it was for a little bit.


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