Friday, July 16, 2010

Gimlets in the Garden benefit features unique offering

Auction items include rare garden tour in Washington state

Express Staff Writer

Misty Isle Farms on Vashon Island, Wash., is a 530-acre ranch, arboretum and gardens that will offer a private garden tour for silent auction at the Sawtooth Botanical Gardenís Gimlets in the Garden benefit. Photo by

When Marty Lyon moved to Sun Valley, he brought with him a legacy of landscape architecture projects, including a 10-year unfinished project at Misty Isle Farms on Vashon Island, Wash. Lyon had been hired by Misty Isle Farms owner Thomas J. Stewart, former president and CEO of Services Group of America, to create the greatest public garden in North America. The 530-acre ranch, arboretum and gardens was in the process of transformation into a public garden when Stewart died unexpectedly in February.

Stewart's grand vision to have a public garden was never realized. However, a special auction item at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden's Gimlets in the Garden benefit will allow up to eight people to have a private tour by Lyon of the soon-to-be-finished gardens anytime between May 15 and Sept. 1, 2011.

"The gardens were designed to by shared by millions of people, but it was never finished," said Lyon said, a member of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden's board of directors. "It will be a unique, one-of-a-kind garden tour.

"It's a magnificent piece of property. It took me a couple months to develop plans, which included thousands of shrubs, hundreds of trees, creating berms and getting rid of fences for just one phase."

Lyon created spaces for flowers to bloom in color sequences throughout the seasons. In addition, a seven-acre driving range and putting and chipping greens with gardens were created to U.S. Golf Association specifications. Lyon said $500,000 worth of equipment was purchased to maintain it. He also planned an arboretum, which was built with 405 trees featuring more than 300 varieties.


In Phase 3 of the project, which took up to four years, Lyon designed extensive water features with hand-laid brick paths connecting the various gardens. A design structure included a grill spot to view a manmade waterfall.

"I designed five different bridges, including a truss bridge," Lyon said. "The bridge has a series of hand-carved wood carvings done by a Native American. The carvings were laser cut in steel and placed against a translucent piece of glass with a bulb so they glow at night."

In addition, a rose garden was created with 850 rose bushes.

"A full-time rosarian was hired for the garden," Lyon said. "Phase 4 was started to include four reflection ponds with a fountain plaza that would have two glass conservatories at one end."

The Gimlets in the Garden benefit will take place at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, south of Ketchum off state Highway 75, on Saturday, July 17, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $100. The evening will feature cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, food by CIRO restaurant, a $10,000 raffle and a silent auction, as well as music and dancing by Kevin Kirk, Onomatopoeia and Sally Tibbs. Special guest and master of ceremonies is R.L. Rowsey from Company of Fools.

For details, call 726-9358.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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