Mill Creek Women's Club members learn how to create outrageous garden containers

Steve Smith and Rachael Zeutenhorst showed how to create an outrageous garden container from scratch.
Steve Smith "The Whistling Gardener" with Judy Cromwell, vice president of the Mill Creek Women's Club. Photo credit: News of Mill Creek.

The guest presenters for the April 17, 2013 Mill Creek Women's Club luncheon, were Steve Smith a.k.a “The Whistling Gardener” from Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, and Rachel Zeutenhorst from T&L Wholesale Nursery in Woodinville. Together they showed how to create an outrageous garden container from scratch.

Smith explained that he is from Southern California and when working there he would always whistle before entering a customer's backyard, just in case they were out there doing a bit of sunbathing! Hence the name “The Whistling Gardener.”

Smith and Zeutenhorst are neighbors and quite often give presentations together. Smith explained that he is the nerd and Zeutenhorst is the container expert.  Rachel’s container creations have won many awards.

Members and guests were entertained with Smith and Zeutenhorst's extensive knowledge of plants and their passion for gardening sprinkled with plenty of humor.

Together, they created and generously donated two fabulous containers that were auctioned off, with the proceeds going to YWCA Pathways for Women. Club member Dyann Arthur bought the herb container and club member Blu Turner purchased the big "Thriller, Filler and Spiller" container.

Smith and Zeutenhorst explained that “Thriller” is the focal point of the container, the anchor or the bling plant. The focal point of a container is usually the center, however, if planting in an entryway the focal point would be at the back of the container. “Filler” plants go around the anchor plant and “Spillers” trail over the edges.

With a few tips anyone can create a fabulous container and Smith and Zeutenhorst shared many tips with the audience. For example:

  • Always water pots thoroughly and flush through the soil, deep watering is important for healthy plants.
  • For an outrageous, over the top container fertilize 2 – 3 times a week during the growing season.
  • Don't be afraid to break up the roots, loosen them up and they will grow.
  • It's not necessary to fill the whole pot with soil, place old plastic pots in the bottom as filler.
  • Herbs are usually from the Mediterranean region, therefore a herb container should be placed in the hottest, sunniest spot in the garden.

Smith has been working in the field of horticulture for over 50 years, from San Diego to the Canadian border. He grew up in Southern California and at the age of 14 took his first job at a small garden center. From High School he went on to receive a degree in Environmental Horticulture from the University of CA. After 3 years in the Army band in Virginia and 2 years in Nepal with the Peace Corps, Smith settled down in Central CA to a career as a Landscape Contractor. For 15 years he designed, installed, and maintained commercial and residential landscapes. In August of 1989, Smith moved to the Great Northwest and purchased Sunnyside Nursery.

Smith has his own weekly garden column which can be found at his website

The Mill Creek Women's Club is a social and philanthropic organization made up of women from the greater Mill Creek, Washington area.

Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month, September through May at the Mill Creek Country Club at 10:30 am.

Mill Creek Women's Club has been active and growing since 1983 with fun social activities, engaging programs at a monthly luncheon and rewarding philanthropic endeavors focusing on the YWCA Pathways for Women.

For more information about Mill Creek Women's Club go to; or call Sue Ramsey @ 425-385-2016, or Kathleen Corbiere @ 425-357-6239.


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