North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Specialty nursery in Marysville nurtures gardeners, artists

 

May 28, 2013

Eva Seidenfaden (front), a basketry expert from Denmark, recently taught a class at Fishsticks Basket School, located at Bouquet Banque Nursery.

35 years ago, Judy Zugish and her family moved into a cozy farmhouse on two acres, situated in central Marysville just to the west of the train tracks. As the young mother soon discovered, trains traveled near her home day and night, and soothing her children included late-night readings, mostly from gardening books.

Zugish was inspired by the unusual plants she read about, with roots in northeast America, Europe and even China. She began to make efforts to collect seeds, dormant roots and information from growers in far-off locales, slowly and patiently building a garden filled with uncommon varieties.

These days, with the children grown and gone, Bouquet Banque Nursery is a productive partnership between owner Judy Zugish and grower Bill Roeder. Together, the two have filled the two acres with a garden filled with textures, colors and scents that overwhelm the senses, along with propagation and nursery houses that burst with carefully selected and lovingly tended varieties of hardy cyclamen, epimedium, Chinese arisaema and other natural wonders.

The plants under their care are nurtured for a five-year cycle before they are offered for sale, either to local gardening aficionados or to specialty buyers across the country. Bouquet Banque hosts a few open house events during the year, with the next one, scheduled for June 14 and 15, focusing on their large selection of Chinese arisaema varieties.

A version of arisaema that might be familiar to northwest gardeners is the “Jack in the Pulpit” plant.

But the nursery operation is just one part of the story.

Zugish and Roeder, in addition to being tenders of plants, are also accomplished artists in the field of basketry. Each of them has produced museum- and gallery-quality pieces, and their works are highly sought by collectors. Zugish also runs a basketry school, Fishsticks, which recently hosted a two-day workshop taught by Eva Seidenfaden, considered the “mother of Danish basketry” and founder of Baskets 4 Life.

The workshop was attended by nine students, some from the local area and some who traveled hundreds of miles for the opportunity. Merrilea Mount and Heidi Miller, both of whom live in Marysville, were clearly enthralled with Seidenfaden’s techniques and the process of incorporating naturally-shaped driftwood into their baskets’ designs.

Mount, a Snohomish County Jail corrections officer, has displayed her basket designs at workplace exhibits. Both she and Miller, a dental hygienist who works for the Tulalip Tribes, enjoyed working with materials fresh out of Zugish’s garden to make a non-traditional basket design.

“I’m used to using willow in traditional weaving,” said Miller. “This is outside the standard method, and we have our hands on the materials from the very beginning, because it’s harvested right here.”

Zugish’s garden contains several stands of willow, along with other vines and plants used in fiber arts. The thin branches of willow are harvested, soaked and dried to preserve their flexibility and texture, and stacked in bunches waiting for inspiration. Some branches are stripped of their bark, which is also collected for artistic use.

Willows also form living structures in Zugish’s garden. Over years of their growth, branches and limbs are meticulously intertwined with one another, creating a random—yet deliberate--woven pattern that translates into natural fences, arbors and screens.

“It’s all about the rhythm of the garden,” said Zugish. “You have to live with the seasons, and pay attention to what the garden needs. When it’s time to harvest willow, then that’s what we do. When it’s time to collect cyclamen seeds, we collect seeds.”

The practice of patience is in evidence everywhere on the property. Nothing seems rushed or hurried, whether it’s enjoying a good cup of coffee or creating a work of art or propagating root stock for development.

The nursery works mostly out of “mother pots,” 5-gallon containers that hold the original piece of root or bulb for their plants. Each growing season, the mother pots are emptied and Roeder harvests the offshoots that will produce a new plant. Some species may generate 20 to 30 new plants each season, while others only produce two, so it can take years to build up a sufficient stock to support retail sales.

“We have people on waiting lists for years,” said Roeder. “They understand the rarity of a particular species and are willing to be patient.”

Bouquet Banque is “the largest grower of cyclamen in the U.S.,” said Zugish, “and perhaps the largest in the world.”

Roeder raises about 20 different varieties of hardy cyclamen, with some winter and early spring bloomers and others that bloom in the fall.

“We harvest about 35,000 seeds each year,” said Roeder. “The corms start at about the size of a pin head, then after about a year, they grow to the size of a grain of rice, then a pea. It takes four years before a plant is ready to be sold and planted in a garden.”

Roeder is especially excited about a new offering this year, a member of the kiwi family named Actinidia tetramara var maloides (also known as strawberry or rosy crabapple kiwi).

“Judy discovered this plant years ago and fell in love with it,” said Roeder. “I bought it, nursed it, and finally came up with a mother plant that can be reproduced. This is a breakthrough—probably the plant of the year.”

Carol Horvath of Portland, OR, traveled to Marysville for the basket workshop.

The nursery also specializes in epimedium, an evergreen perennial native to China that produces striking flowers in spring. Bouquet Banque offers over 90 varieties of epimedium, and the nursery hosts an open house in the early spring for gardeners who want to incorporate the deciduous plant into their gardens.

Bouquet Banque is located at 8220 State Ave., just across from the Co-Op Supply Store. Except for the public open house events, the nursery is open by appointment. Phone (360) 659-4938 or email fishsticks@clearwire.net. Visit the website at www.twigtwisters.com.

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