Culvert pipe, wire rock cages and reinforcing steel bar aren’t the first materials you’d probably think about using in a landscape design.
Barbara Safranek, of Spokane, combined those industrial materials with the more typical brick, stone and greenery to come up with this year’s centerpiece at the Spokane Home and Garden Show, which runs through Sunday at the Convention Center downtown.
“When industrial materials rust, they have that organic quality,” Safranek said during a lull in the show on Friday.
She teamed up with Aaron Farr, owner of Greenscape landscape company in north Spokane County, to create the 30-by-50-foot design that includes three burned out and weathered cedar snags, remnants of a historic forest fire.
The main entry to the landscape is through a pair of flanking culvert columns painted a copper color and splayed at the top. They are joined overhead by an arbor built from reinforcing steel bar and hog wire used in heavy concrete construction.
“I tried to make the columns look like snags,” Safranek said.
The main path leads to a stone fireplace built with wire gabion cages filled with horizontal stone and rounded river rock.
“I’ve never seen a gabion fireplace until we built one,” Farr said.
It took eight workers three days to piece together the display, he said.
“She designs it and I figure out a way to build it,” Farr said.
Show-goers seemed pleased.
“What a neat idea,” said Chris Bofenkamp, of Pullman. “I like the use of rock and metal.”
She said she was at the show to get ideas for her own landscape, especially ways to reduce maintenance and water use.
“It’s neat to see all of the ideas people come up with,” Bofenkamp said.
Martie Eveland, of Chattaroy, said the centerpiece “is adorable.”
Safranek, who operates Landscape Design in Spokane, trained as a landscape architect in California before returning nine years ago to Spokane where she had graduated from high school.
She works with clients on developing their own outdoor features, a job that starts with defining what the dream landscape would include. That, she said, provides options. Issues involving cost come later.
Safranek said she looks for a balance between plant matter and hard surfaces. “My feeling is most contractors focus on hardscape too much,” she said, explaining that “plant communities make the garden come alive.”
The plants she used in this weekend’s display include Japanese maple, river birch, subalpine fir, rhododendron, pieris japonica, heuchra, ornamental grasses and evergreen hellebore from the golden collection.