Winners of the 2014 Top Tool Tester Contest!

Of the 259 entries that we received for the 2014 Top Tool Tester Contest, these two gardeners were handpicked by Gardening How-To editors to represent the Club and test the most innovative new tools at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.

What a thrill it was to receive 259 entries for our 2014 Top Tool Tester Contest! Picking two winners to join the editors and review new gardening tools at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas was tough, but two excellent gardeners rose to the top. They are …

Jacquie Brown Barone, Hood River, Oregon

Jacquie says, "There was once a time I couldn't keep a cactus alive, but when we opened our business, people gave us indoor plants as gifts and I had to learn quickly how to take care of them." That's how she got her start, and the result is shown in the image above.

"My garden is now a mesh of many ideas from the gardens I visited in Japan and the many beautiful gardens I have visited in the Northwest," she says. "Some areas are created just from plants that friends have passed on to me. I consider it my blank canvas of ever-changing ideas."

Jacquie says that her garden "is a host to a Koi pond where I enjoy my morning tea and a conversation with my fish. Afternoons are spent harvesting lunch or dinner out of the garden, and each day I take walks through the paths to see what new things are coming up. My garden has a bit of everything; places to sit in shade, places to soak up sun and places to wonder as if I were somewhere else."

Below are Jacquie's winning photos.

Shauna Sprunger, Lehi, Utah

Shauna took an interest in gardening five years ago when she and her husband, Bill Sprunger, were newlyweds. "Since then, gardening has become a part of us, and our garden a symbol of how we have grown together."

The two are continually learning, studying other gardens and pouring over books and magazines on gardening, landscaping, flower arrangements, seed starting, green housing and wildflowers. "Our dates," she admits, "are spent at the local nurseries, and our vacations hunting wildflowers or visiting gardens."

Three years ago, they built a greenhouse for winter gardening. "Now," she says, "I have people coming to my house to walk through my garden and ask me questions. They laugh at my enthusiastic explanations. I am usually just thrilled that I actually know the answer and can help. I can identify all the plants in our garden and most of the wildflowers in our nearby mountains. My hands are callused and my fingernails dirty. Bill and I are having a blast with life and the garden we have built.

Below are Shauna's winning photos.