Garden Photo of the Day

Left Coast Garden Magic

By Kim Charles

Jay Sifford showcases the iconic elements of the Pacific Northwest in this unique installation.

"My crew and I just completed the installation of our show garden at the 2017 Southern Spring Home and Garden Show in Charlotte, NC. The show theme is “America the Beautiful”. I chose to design a contemporary woodland garden that could easily be found in the Pacific Northwest, and called it “Left Coast Garden Magic”, as I’m currently all about magic, illusion and art in my garden designs.

This garden is a deconstructed and reconstructed garden, so the iconic or stereotypic elements that one thinks of when thinking of the Pacific Northwest are represented here: rain, water, islands, conifer forests, ferns, moss and glass art. They are pulled apart so that they can be studied on their own, then they are put back together in the left half of the garden.
A “levitating” tree branch is plumbed so that it “rains” into the reflecting pool, which is host to 22 floating glass spheres. The “island” is a stainless steel rectangle that hosts 5 blown glass calla lilies and numerous farfugium.
The electric lime portal leads to a triptych of crimson blown glass bamboo which integrate well with the live black bamboo. The path then disappears behind one of 5 large cryptomerias.  Sixty pots of daffodils flood the path with color, and a stone leaf mosaic and red camellia petals lead the eye down the pathway to the red glass bamboo."

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View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 03/08/2017

    Hey Jay - Outstanding design, narrative, plant selection and positioning, artwork, lighting and photography of your garden display. Congratulations to you and your team on the brilliant work. Bet it was/will be well received. Cheers from Oz

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Frank! People did love it. The men in particular were scratching their heads, trying to figure out how I had a levitating tree branch that was raining into the reflecting pool. When they figured it out, a sense of satisfaction spread across their faces kind of like a lunar eclipse. It was so fun to watch!

  2. Maggieat11 03/08/2017

    Jay, it looks great! Love the incorporated glass art, also! I echo Frank in agreeing that design, plant selection and photography .. every element! is wonderful. Looks like an Award-winning display to me! What is the name of your landscaping company?

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Margaret! My company is called Sifford Garden Design.
      Happy gardening to you!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/08/2017

    Oh, my, Jay, talk about a "Calgon take me away" amongst all the hustle and bustle of a garden show, your display communicates a wonderful feeling of serenity and almost other worldliness. It is wonderfully creative and with the rain sounds and pops of colorful glass, a sensory delight. Sincerest congratulations to you and your crew.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks so much!

  4. Quiltingmamma 03/08/2017

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. It speaks to my soul. What more can a designer ask for?

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thank you. You are right.... for a designer, speaking to the soul is simply enough.

  5. user-7008399 03/08/2017

    I had a moment of confusion when I saw the pics because I have some of the same shots on my phone that I took at the Garden Show. It was even better in person! The rain dripping from the branch was a very nice effect. I love all the glass in the display.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Brenda. It really was difficult to capture the vibrancy of the garden in my photos. Hopefully I was there and not catatonic when you visited!

  6. user-7007498 03/08/2017

    Jay, I am so impressed with the beautiful garden you created. Love the way you integrated the various elements into a cohesive design that is so soothing, but pulls us in to look further. Hopefully you had time to enjoy the show, and pick up some new clients.

    I will be heading to the Philadelphia Flower Show next Tuesday. I will be meeting Rhonda for a small east coast GPOD get together. If anyone else is going on Tuesday, please reach out.

    Your post is a wonderful prelude to the beginning of the garden season. Thanks.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Hi Kevin. I'd love to attend the Philly show one of these days. Take a lot of good photos for us, will you?

  7. Chris_N 03/08/2017

    Great job, Jay! It certainly gives off a NW vibe to me. First Linda's posts of Bloedel and now your creation today make me want to head west and visit the real thing. Thanks for once again sharing your creativity and design skills.

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/08/2017

      You might want to wait a bit, Chris, since it's probably warmer there than it is here.

      1. Chris_N 03/08/2017

        It's 41 today and the temp is dropping. We may have snow on Sunday and Monday again. I looked at Whidbey weather and temp was 48 so you're doing better there. I was going to mention winds but you have a wind advisory there almost identical to here in Wisconsin. Sustained winds 25 mph with gusts up to 55. Stay safe.

  8. user-4691082 03/08/2017

    WELL! You will certainly win first place! Outstanding!

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Rhonda. I won a second place horticulture award, but no design awards. It's ok.... the facial and verbal expressions of the show-goers were priceless to me.

      1. user-4691082 03/09/2017

        You know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I hope you are proud of your accomplishment. I'm imagining the hundreds of photos that were taken of your creation, and the copying that will be attempted. That's the highest form of flattery! BTW, where did you get those calla lilies?

  9. foxglove12 03/08/2017

    Love the combination of the red and the lime green. Impressive!

  10. hontell 03/08/2017


  11. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/08/2017

    That is some great design, Jay. I love how the elements form a clean, cohesive whole. Rich texture and deep color; so nice. What is the large, serrated-leaved plant behind the island and glass lilies in photo 4? Acanthus?
    Congrats on a successful installation.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Tim! Yes, the large leaves are acanthus mollis. I found them at a nursery the week before the show. I initially weren't going to use acanthus, but I saw these and changed my mind.

  12. sheila_schultz 03/08/2017

    Once again you have designed a thoughtfully beautiful work of art for your local H&G show. Enjoy all the accolades and new clients that will be seeking out your expertise!

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Sheila. I generally don't receive too many new clients from the garden show, but they sometimes trickle in several years later.

      1. sheila_schultz 03/09/2017

        At shows, it's all about how your work touches someone's soul. Folks will remember your work.

  13. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 03/08/2017

    Beautiful, Jay. I would say that you captured the magic of the "Left" coast perfectly.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks so much. I'm glad I accomplished my goal! I asked several of my PNW garden designers if I'd captured it. Glad you saw it.

  14. NCYarden 03/08/2017

    Very cool, Jay. Serene and surreal. I appreciate your mindful and artistic approach.

  15. Sunshine111 03/08/2017


  16. Meelianthus 03/08/2017

    Really outstanding Jay! We just attended the PNW Flower & Garden Show, all of which were beautiful, but yours is a stunning winner. I know those displays take an enormous amount of energy to create and install (and disassemble!) Some of your groupings reminded me of the Chihuly Glass Garden in Seattle. Have you ever been? it is a must see for every gardener that enjoys the beauty of magical fantasy. Thanks for sharing your creativity.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks! I have never won a design award at the show. This year is actually the first year I won anything; it was a second place horticulture award.
      I visited the Chichuly Garden and Glass in Seattle this past May. It was wonderful. I stayed for several hours, revisiting the installations. It was an overwhelmingly powerful experience, one that really started my mind thinking!

      1. Meelianthus 03/09/2017

        Congratulations on your award ! so well deserved. Chihuly's really is a mind-blowing experience and the nite garden is just as stunning, hope you were able to see it after dark too but wonderful that you had the experience - it's one that a person can never forget.

  17. annek 03/08/2017

    Jay, you've not only woven a beautiful story with your design, but with your words as well. I'm impressed with the different shades of light throughout your design. The sparkle of the glass, the brilliance of the flower petals, the warmth of the yellow daffodils amidst the shadows and reflections of the plantings and water. Well-done. You've captured the essence of magic

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks so much! Over the past couple of years, my mind has been captivated by light play in the garden. It really is magical.

  18. erla 03/08/2017

    From Oregon . . . you represent us well. Love the glass lillies. Would love to see the whole scope. You inspire me, if my garden ever recovers from "feet" of rain, snow, and ice from our unusual winter, and it quits raining long enough to emerge to the outdoors. Thank you for sharing your art.

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks so much. Glass in the garden is a very special thing. I'm starting to use more and more of it in my designs. I'm glad that my garden could inspire you after your nasty winter. Happy gardening!

  19. GrannyCC 03/09/2017

    Hi from Southern Vancouver Island where right now the rain is drip,drip, dripping off our tree branches. Your display is wonderful and certainly has the feel for this area!!

    1. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

      Thanks Catherine. I wish we here in NC had some of your "drip drip"!

  20. Jay_Sifford 03/09/2017

    Thanks so much Diane. I appreciate your comment!

  21. perenniallycrazy 03/09/2017

    What a stunning garden! It's heartbreaking to think that it is a short-lived one and cannot be enjoyed by many for a lifetime. Makes me really wish I attended the show. Congrats Jay and team on a terrific showgarden!

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