Hartley Magazine

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Jellyfish in the Glasshouse — Great Ideas from the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

A double portico allows showgoers to walk through the greenhouse.

I’m always a fan of the display gardens at Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Festival because they offer inspiration for creative ideas to take home and try. This year “Dreamscapes by the Sea” featured a Hartley Victorian glasshouse with double porticos that allowed showgoers to walk right through. It was nestled into a lush garden that surrounded it on all sides. “I think everyone who had a part in it went above and beyond,” said Deby Kohlwes, the garden’s designer and project manager.

The rusty eagle and the colorful river birches flank the portico entrance. On the patio floor, a winding line of stones mimics a stream flow.
An eagle snags a salmon in the driftwood water feature.









The judges took notice, awarding a coveted Gold. The display also received Mutual Material’s Best Hardscape, and Fine Gardening’s Beyond Beautiful—Best Gardening in the Show. Deby said, “The look was inspired by what I can see out my window in the morning.”

The Wave sculpture evokes the maritime Northwest.
River birches offer winter interest with a blue heron sculpture at their feet.









She must have a great view. On one side of the greenhouse, a metal eagle came flying in to grab a salmon in the driftwood water feature, while a colorful blue heron occupied a niche in a pool by the entrance. Plants that would happily grow in the maritime Pacific Northwest were clustered in the beds around the structure, offering creative pairing ideas for home gardeners. On the other side of the greenhouse, a patio featured what looked like large pebbles as seating around a matching firepit—all made of polished concrete—while a curly willow bench was flanked by containers of blooming camellias.

The curves of acurly willow bench contrast with the surrounding hardscape.
Comfortable seating surrounded by lush plants offers a dream greenhouse experience.





Walking inside a Hartley is like walking into no other glasshouse I know. There’s a softness to the sound indoors that rings of solidity. It’s noticeable, like what you hear when you close the car door on a well-designed vehicle. The interior for this one was set up exactly how I would imagine a greenhouse by the sea could be.

Pothos, pitcher plants, and begonias tumble from the upper shelves.

The sun shades were partially drawn up the angled glass roof, and tropical plants festooned the shelves and potting tables. Comfortable couches invited you to sit and look around. Blown glass jellyfish lights hung down from the ceiling, their glistening plastic tentacles moving in the slightest breeze. It was a space where you wanted to linger. And many did.

Live jellyfish circulate in the round salt-water tank. The plants behind add to the underwater magic.

But my favorite indoor décor was a circular salt-water tank filled with live jellyfish, floating by the glass. I found out jellies always need a round tank. Otherwise, they will cluster in the corners of a regular tank and not move. The way this one was set up, they drifted on the current, and the plants outside looked like they were part of this underwater seascape. The effect was so soothing. In the bustle of the show, this glasshouse was a place of peace.

Blown-glass jellyfish lights give an underwater feel to the glasshouse.