Countless do-it-yourself projects would never have seen the light of day were it not for Aurora Rents—gardens would remain untended, furniture unsanded, bedrooms unpainted. Luckily, the locally owned and operated business has rented tools and equipment—all properly cared for—to northwestern craftspeople for 50 years. Equally as vital, each employee carries industry expertise around in his or her tool belt, and delights in providing insights, safety tips, and techniques for refinishing floors or shellacking homemade Trojan horses.
With a degree in landscape architecture from Washington State and more than 20 years of experience, Chris McAuslan crafts custom designs for both residential and commercial properties. When he isn't stocking his nursery with beautiful trees and shrubs, he installs landscape lighting, waterfalls, synthetic grass, and eco-friendly, solar-powered flowers.
Each spring for almost 30 years, 30,000 blooming bulbs have dressed Windmill Gardens’ namesake structure in a bright and flowing floral skirt, attracting foliage fanciers who cart home petaled loot in individual pots or flats to decorate their own backyards. Stroll the foliage-festooned grounds to select a dozen greens for your kit—you’ll get six pony packs with three to six plants, each 2 to 5 inches tall (a $1.99 value each) and six individually potted 4-inch plants (a $3.99 value each). Choose from hundreds of annuals to fill your flower garden, such as impatiens and geraniums, or opt to stock up on peppers, chives, tomatoes, and other edibles. After checkout, linger on location to take advantage of Windmill Gardens’ other amenities, including a bistro, a salon spa, and a loose-leaf tea shop.
A gypsy rides through the crowd while standing upon two horses. Behind him follow more members of his troupe, who do back flips off their steeds and then regale spectators with fire breathing and juggling. Performed by the seventh-generation acrobats of Cavallo Equestrian Arts, this spectacle—called Ma'Ceo—often draws standing-room-only crowds every day during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire. It's these kinds of glimpses into the Elizabethan era that fulfill the mission of bringing renaissance Europe to life. Turning the Kelley Farm into the Village of Merriwick, entertainers of all types, from courtiers to peasants, engage fairgoers with a range of acts. Flanked by her entourage, Queen Elizabeth travels through the streets, perhaps on her way to watch the jousters compete for her phone number, or perhaps to watch sprightly performers such as the Celtic fiddlers or the commedia troupe. Merchants peddle wares to passersby, talking up goods such as hand-forged weapons and armor, hand-tooled leather goods, and roasted turkey legs. Camel rides and bubble-filled buckets cater to kids, and adults can duck into two alehouses where quick-witted wenches pour draft microbrews and ciders. For guests who want to spend the whole weekend immersed in the renaissance festivities, organizers reserve a section of the grounds for tent and RV camping.
Tucked in the rustic overgrowth beside the creek that inspired its name, Covington Creek Nursery spans 5 perfectly manicured acres adorned year-round with seasonal, local, and rare flowers, herbs, and trees. Staffers help guests wandering through the greenery, offering tips on bird-feeder care, how to maintain unusual plants such as Japanese maples, or what to do if trees become infested with bad-mannered wood nymphs. They also invite guests to hands-on classes and events such as Easter-egg hunts and vertical-gardening how-to sessions.