Local landscapers win bronze at Northwest Flower & Garden Show

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NORTH BEND - Creating an indoor garden scene as big as a bus in three and a half days seems problematic, especially when it includes a totem pole, a 16-foot birch tree, stone walls and two water elements.

With eight months to prepare and thousands of dollars and minutes invested, the North Bend landscaping company Outdoor Living Environments managed to find a way to make those and additional elements work in their garden scene called "Raven's Refuge." They earned the bronze medal at the recent 2005 Northwest Flower & Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center.

"Everybody's been very excited about the show," said Mike Jergeson, co-owner of Outdoor Living Environments with Ian Wilson. "It's been very well received. They liked our booth."

Coming up with the idea based on the totem pole in her home, designer Maryann Kirkby, Jergeson and Wilson, along with various artists, created a scene honoring the mythological origins of the raven in Native American culture. They used metal sculpture work while working to maintain a practical appeal.

"We came up with Raven's Refuge to seem like a sanctuary within your landscape," explained Jergeson. "We tried to create a peaceful setting."

Raven's Refuge used the elements of light, water and fire in the design. Focusing on naturalism within a Northwest landscape, it features two water pieces - one with water spilling out from a rock and the other a still pool with foaming nozzles - flowers, planting materials, a variety of trees including birch, Cyprus and dogwood, ornamental grasses, rhododendron species, hebes and the totem pole in the front center. The focus was a patio with raised dry-stacked rock walls and blue stones that encircled the patio. A copper fire ring surrounded a fire pit that was built into the scene.

The five-day show displayed the works of 25 designers, landscape companies, landscape architects and other flower and garden professionals from around the country. Garden scenes were viewed by three judges and awarded gold, silver, bronze or crystal medals based on how well the displays achieved their design objectives and on the quality of execution. The exhibition was open to the public.

"[The show was] trying to get people to show what a company can do," Jergeson said. "We're not just landscape guys that only cut grass and plant hedges, it's trying to bring out the creative side."

Operating for almost four years, Outdoor Living Environments was developed after Wilson and Jergeson - who both have more than 15 years of landscaping experience - first connected while working at another company, explained Jergeson, who moved from Montana six years ago. Feeling that they had achieved their top level at that company, they began their own.

Building and installing landscapes mostly on the Eastside because of established contacts, Jergeson said that exposure is a strong benefit for participating in the garden show, but it is also a chance to display a creative side. With ideas already brewing in his head, he plans for Outdoor Living Environments to attend the show next year if they are invited again.

"Your landscape doesn't have to be just a concrete landscape and grass," he said. "[The show is] trying to give people an opportunity to see that its limitless what you can do with the yards."

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