I was first introduced to DIG Nursery two years ago while taking a summer garden tour on Vashon Island. Upon walking through the gabion tower flanked entry I was instantly struck by the fact that DIG was no ordinary nursery – perennials down isle 1, evergreen shrubs isle 2… oh no, not DIG.
With Sylvia’s background studying art at the Art Institute of Chicago and Ross’ experience as a materials expert and master craftsman, ‘ordinary’ is not what you’re going to get. What you do get when visiting DIG is a burst of color and inspiration… a sense of what’s possible in your own garden.
Together, Sylvia and Ross have an amazing ability to create vignettes mixing unusual plant combinations, containers, outdoor furniture and fixtures – often with a little twist or surprise. It’s not uncommon to be left thinking, “I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I love it… and have to have it!”
I decided to make another visit to DIG for a needed jolt of creativity as well as to learn a little more about what inspires them. Sylvia was nice enough to sit down with me to answer a few questions.
Me: You have a background in the arts having attended the Chicago Art Institute. How did you decide upon horticulture and nursery ownership as an outlet for your creativity?
Sylvia: It was a practical choice. I left school with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and big bill. After graduating I walked into a high-end floral shop in Chicago and said, “I think this place is amazing, I want to work here.” The owner was a savvy business woman who made a practice of hiring Art Institute grads. Because of this, the store had beautiful displays. Art lends itself to plants. It’s a visual medium. I also took Latin in high school, which helped with learning the scientific plant names.
Me: Your nursery is so much more than rows of plants. The displays you create with found objects, colorful containers, unusual plant combinations, etc., are a source of inspiration for both casual gardeners and serious landscape designers, alike. What inspires you when creating these displays?
Sylvia: I’m always trying to up the bar. I never want to become static or formulaic. I have a need to keep exploring and tweaking and learning until I find a plant or color combination I adore.
Me: You have a knack for staying on the forefront of trends in terms of new plant introductions and uses, as well as design. Are there any trends you’re noticing in the industry currently?
Sylvia: Grasses and succulents… consumers are developing their plant vocabulary and are looking more and more for drought tolerant, easy care and evergreen plants. Perennials are on the wane, but customers still want their candy. This year it was Digiplexis.
Me: What inspires you?
Sylvia: I look outside the trade for inspiration – architecture publications, art and fashion – and translate what I gleam from that. I’ll take a certain color or a certain theme and go with it.
Me: What do you hope people will experience when visiting DIG?
Sylvia: I hope they get inspired and bring it into their own life – whether it’s a houseplant or hover dish planter.
Trust me, you’ll be inspired. When leaving I overheard Sylvia ask a customer if they needed any help. Their response, “You could help by staying closed so I stop coming in and buying so much – I can’t help myself!”
While it’s true, you may leave with the back seat of your car loaded with treasures, a visit to DIG is a must.
19028 Vashon Highway SW
Vashon WA 98070
February-September: Every day
From the über-cool to the outrégeous.
Be inspired to try something different.
Just a few more pictures from my visit. I couldn’t help myself… there was so much to see!
Sophie and the coolest dog house ever – a cement culvert!