What a garden show should be: the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

This sign read: "In the garden, everyone can be an artist without apology or explanation." I wished it was for sale. Don't you love those small hanging terrariums?

Birches, chamaecyparis and confers of all types mixed with red-twigged dogwoods, hellebores and hamamelis (witch hazels) artfully blended to create scenes of Great Northwest fantasy. I heard several friends were going to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Tired of brown Bermuda and trees without snow, I decided to use some of my points, fly across the country and join them. While I strolled through indoor-wrought scenes of garden and patio life, several friends asked if I were speaking at the show. No, not this time. I just wanted to come and see what a garden show could be.

Birches with their pale bark shone in the ambient light. Witch hazels are the yellow beacons at left with red-twigged dogwoods and a red camellia next to the path.

I know these pictures are large and probably taking a bit to load, but I wanted you to see the show as I did. These were full-sized trees artfully arranged. Our Oklahoma Home and Garden Show replete with aluminum siding and gutter guards pales in comparison. In fact, it should be ashamed of itself. How will we ever interest people in gardening if we don’t display more gardens?”

Just look at this checkerboard path with white stones and black mondo grass. See the hellebores at right?

This garden, a piece of which is pictured above, was one of my favorites because of the subject matter. Called “Winter’s Come and Gone–a Lullaby” and created by Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association and designed by Gregory Smaus of Native Root Designs, it was both whimsical and classic with blackboards giving a piece of the folk song every step of the way. If you’d like to hear it, Gillian Welch does a nice rendition. The gardens and talks were created around different musical compositions and styles because the show’s overall theme was “Symphony in the Garden.” You can read more descriptions here. I can’t imagine garden designers in Oklahoma taking time to do this, but I noticed most gardens were a collaboration between colleges and design groups, along with commercial enterprises.

Blackboards displayed a portion of the song at each stop.

I heard some of my peers in Seattle thought the show was over the top, but to a red-dirt girl starving for color, the show whispered to me of early spring. Grown in greenhouses, plants were budded out and blooming. It was all fantasy, but since plants were labeled for identification, visitors could purchase something from the garden mart for one’s own garden. Yes, because of their temperate climate, people were buying all sorts of green and early blooming plants. It was fun to watch, but also a little sad. So many of their plants just won’t work here.

Maybe my friends are somewhat jaded because they see the show every year. This Oklahoma gardener could only think I was in paradise.

The weather was great. Damp, but not pouring with slate-colored skies. I loved it. My skin, dry from our winter, loved it.

Can you imagine what it took to place these trees and stones to create this vista? I really can't.

Getting to see friends like Mary Ann Newcomer, Debra Prinzing, David Perry and meeting their spouses, significant others and muses, was priceless. Making new friends was great too. Talking again to Jessi Bloom and discovering, not only is she a garden designer and chicken herder, she’s also a roller derby queen (one of my favorite sports.) Watching Jayme Jenkins work her business, AHA Modern Living, and seeing some of her glass containers with modern frogs. A special thank you to Mary Ann and Flyboy. They watched over me like mother hens and entertained me at the best places. I think I talked their ears off because I was so excited. I had the best time.

Would you like to have a seat? The name of this garden was "Here Comes the Sun."

Oh, and the food. The vegetables and seafood in Seattle taste better than I’ve ever had. It must be the soil. Food in Seattle tastes always reminds me of camping out. You’re so hungry, and the food tastes better than anything you’ve ever tasted. I bet at Heaven’s wedding banquet, food will taste the same.

I would go again in a heart beat.

Wouldn’t you?


48 Replies to “What a garden show should be: the Northwest Flower and Garden Show”

  1. Dee! What a grand job you did conveying the beauty and spirit of this show! Thank you!! I vow to be there next year! Hope you’ll be there too! Will you be in Tuscon in. October?

  2. Beautiful photos Dee! So fun to see you at the show and also to see how our Pacific Northwest garden style is viewed by someone from so far away. We may not have red dirt here, but the passion for gardening unites us all as kindred spirits.
    ~ Janet

  3. Dee – I would like to “talk” to you about the GrandeLash you reviewed.
    I am a hairdresser from Kansas now living in Tucson, Az.
    Just questions about “at your salon”, and how that was.
    Pretty please email me when you have a minute.
    I don’t tweet or text, and I also do not read my email as often as I should.

  4. Dee, your photos are fabulous! Gives me some wonderful ideas for me and my husband. These unusual balmy temps have given my garden a head start…my Forellenschluss popped up last month! Can you say cold frames? I purchased some cold weather starter plants to plant in other cold frames I made. This crazy Texas weather continues to vacillate from freezing to, “Where the heck are my shorts”? Actually had to raise the ends of the cold frames several times to let the air through and cool the plants…yesterdays temp inside my mini greenhouse was a blazing 90 degrees. Geez! We are in North East Texas just south of the Red River, south of Ivanhoe,TX.
    Thank you for your wonderful site, beautiful pics and the knowledge that you share!

    1. Thank you so much Terry Ann. I hope my blog helps others find their garden happiness as I’ve found mine. Yes, today feels like late March instead of mid-February. Weird. I’m enjoying it though. Need to check the potager to see if my spinach is up. I’ve got row covers ready if we have a cold snap.

  5. Well, I am very impressed with the photos, as I always am. Glad you had a fabulous trip and that spring is finally coming to the Red Dirt Ranch.

  6. I bet you had fun there and seeing all those spring bulbs and fresh garden ideas would be perfect when back home it was still winter. I love those glass terrariums. I bought one in Seattle last year as a gift for a friend.

  7. I need to get me some of those points so I can one day fly out to Seattle in the dead of winter for a breath of spring. Our “flower and patio” show has some gardens, but nothing like those.

  8. It’s a gorgeous place, a wonderful show, and one I’ve not missed in 20 years. I count on the Seattle scenery and the show gardens to lift me up in February, when back home, the brown hills and frozen ground have WEEKS to go before greening up. We were tickled to have you with us, Dee.

  9. What a wonderful sneak peak into the show. It looks beautiful and it sounds like you had a great time with so many of our gardening friends. Makes me wish I’d been there — so glad you got an energizing break in the heart of winter.

  10. Goodness sakes, Dee, you should be their pitchwoman, I am ready to sign up to go next year! It all looks wonderful, and I know exactly what you mean about being starved to see blooming plants and greenery, even if they were forced to look like that. Hanging out with those fun folks, too, sounds like a dream come true!

  11. Dee, It does sound like paradise…Yes, I would go back to Seattle again and again. Love the quote. I feel the same way about the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show~Shame on them for selling home products that have nothing to do with the lawn or garden! xogail

  12. I am just green with travel envy. What a delightful time you had. Such beautiful scenes. Lushous plants. Wow.

  13. Oh gosh, Im jealous. So glad you got to go and meet everyone! We are lucky! Indiana has a good show…. It starts in a mth, cant wait! Glad you got to see a bit of spring to come…..

  14. The flower shows do seem to roll around when the yearning for color is at its peak and what better way to fill that void. Suspend reality and visit a flower show. Like a Forest Bath only this is a Flower Show Bath.

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