When Woodinville was still a rural enclave surrounded by farmland in 1956, a Danish nurseryman bought a few acres. Egon and Laina Molbak took their family business from five preexisting glass greenhouses loaded with nursery stock for the production of chrysanthemums and carnations to one of the most popular horticultural attractions in the Pacific Northwest.
Originally established as a retail nursery in the 1970s, Molbak’s Garden + Home has grown to become a one-stop shop for all your gardening and home decor needs. In 1975, the town conducted its inaugural Poinsettia Festival, which has since grown into a glittering holiday extravaganza that draws people from all across the Western United States.
For many years, Molbak’s produced grandiose display gardens, many of which were planned by famed Seattle landscape architect Robert Chittock, who was also present at the inception of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in 1989.
Visitors came in droves to see the gardens because of their crazy imaginations. Molbak’s provided us with enchantment in the dead of winter with the use of plants and artistic execution.
In 2002, Jens, the son of Egon and Laina, took the helm at Molbak’s and guided the family firm through a time of economic hardship. The Molbak’s brand has survived and expanded to become a crucial asset in the region.
Visitors from far and wide came to purchase the best annuals, a wonderful collection of indoor plants, landscape plants, and garden supplies thanks to the store’s on-site workshops, landscape design services, and seasonal festivals.
With the creation of the Woodinville Gardens District, a new commercial and residential area centered around gardens (including Molbak’s), business is once again booming for Molbak’s. CEO Julie Kouhia of Molbak has said, “We’re focused on maintaining loyal to our heritage, but simultaneously growing and moving forward with the world around us.”
No longer a quiet suburb, Woodinville has blossomed into a thriving metropolis. Consistent with the family’s history of bold and inventive initiatives, Jens Molbak sought out the Green Futures Lab at the University of Washington to help him plan for the future and create environmentally friendly public areas.
UW landscape architecture professor and program director Nancy Rottle collaborated with students and community members like Molbak’s and other business owners, neighbors, and regional architects to envision a plan that would benefit the neighborhood and potentially serve as a national model for a sustainable, interconnected downtown.
The Gardens District was designed with the natural environment in mind. The first of a five-phase project, construction on which is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2023, will consist of a four-story commercial and residential structure designed by Graham Baba Architects and anchored by a brand-new Molbak’s.
Don’t worry, the current daycare will stay in use till the brand-new one opens in 2025. Having a garden shop and nursery appreciated as important parts of the neighborhood is great, adds Kouhia. We’re firm believers that greenery improves daily living.
Kouhia ponders the importance of community and how balcony gardens may function as vertical pollinator corridors while imagining how a greenhouse strategically placed to capture light will give an aerial perspective of the verdant shop yard to nearby residents.
Shannon Nichol, a founding partner of Seattle’s GGN landscape design company, is spearheading an initiative to restore Woodin Creek and other local ecosystems as part of the goal to connect the built environment with the native ecology of the area.
Kouhia explains that they wish to avoid “landscaping as an afterthought to reconstruction” in order to produce something that is “authentically of the location.”