Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why Did I Go To The Northwest Flower & Garden Show?

My online gardening friends and fellow writers understand why I decided to splurge and go all the way to Seattle to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Many of them went to the show, too. But my friends that don't live and breathe gardening might not get it. They love plants and flowers, but to go all the way out there just to see a show? If you've seen one flower show, you've seen them all, right?


The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is the second largest indoor flower show in the country, with the Philadelphia International Flower Show being the largest. After seeing photos of the NWFGS last year and hearing others talk about it, I made up my mind that this was going to be the year I went. I'm glad I did, and here's why:

  • I live in Ohio. The NWFGS is in Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest. While some might think that we grow many of the same things, the truth is that this area of the PNW is what I like to call the "Gardening Mecca" of the country. The ocean and Puget Sound temper the climate and their growing zones are between 6 and 8. This means they have a huge palette of plants that they can grow that we can't. This translates into displays that are somewhat different than those I see at more local (to me) garden shows.

    As expected, because of the PNW locale, there were many woodland displays.

    A burned-out tree serves as a backdrop to a fire pit.

    It's a Japanese maple, in case you were wondering.

    One of the things I notice that's different here from my local displays is the number of shrubs and trees used in close proximity to the other design features. They're much more densely placed than they are here. This likely is because our natural landscape where I live is more open than it is in the PNW.

    I really love the use of ornamental and native grasses.
  • Seattle is also a very artsy part of the country. The glass artists alone are many and varied.  Dale Chihuly  makes his home in this area. The over 300 vendors at the show included art in many forms: glass art, fine art, photography, pottery, metal art, and jewelry. Oh, the jewelry! (Yes, I bought some.)

    Larger than life fly by Sean Goddard

    One of the numerous glass art vendors

    These are just a few of the fascinating artistic metal shoes
    designed by Diana Shampang-Voorhies. (Photo taken with permission.)

    One of my favorite glass artists, Barbara Sanderson, had a beautiful display.
    The container plantings were designed by friend Christina Salwitz.

  • There are display gardens and exhibits that inspire, no matter which garden show you attend, and while none of them at the NWFGS truly wowed me, I did find several elements that I might try to adapt to my own gardens. As I was walking through the show over the period of several days, there was so much to see. Only after I got home and took a look through the 600+ photos I took while I was there, did I begin to truly appreciate all that the show had to offer.

    The theme for the show this year was "A Floral Symphony." Display gardens, container garden exhibits, and seminars all took on a musical theme, with a few exceptions. All gardens are a symphony of color, texture, and form, but the interpretation of the theme sometimes took on a playful tone. The variety of viewpoints is what makes a garden show so much fun.

    This "April in Paris" garden by Wight's Home & Garden was the one display
    that reminded me of last year's Philadelphia Flower Show in design and detail, in
    addition to being the exact theme of the Philly show.

    In this detail, you can see that the plants are actually planted IN the table.

    The top part of Wardian cases made for some classy cold frames
    in this vegetable garden.

    This was one of my favorite displays, for several reasons. The ornamental sedge
    between the steps is beautiful, and the way the water falls from the roof into a
    water feature is ingenious.

    These illuminated pots added some drama!

    "Art" in the Garden

    This VW bus was converted into a very hip chicken coop and was being
    raffled off to one lucky winner!

    "Ladies Only" indeed!

    Isn't this corner bar on the patio cozy?

    If you haven't noticed in some of the other photos as well as in this one, red is
    a popular color to use on doors and other accents and trims. I, of course, love this
    because red is my favorite color and we just recently painted all our doors red.

    Clever!  (And red.)

  • The seminars being held during garden shows are one of the perks that everyone who attends them should take advantage of. Those at the NWFGS this year were top notch. I attended many of them and came away with an abundance of ideas and helpful tips. You don't know what you don't know until after you learn it - you know?

    I intended to go to more of the seminars I did, but with all the eye candy on the convention center floor, I got sidetracked and time got away from me. I really regret missing several that I wanted to see and hear. Here are the ones I didn't miss:

    • What the Cluck? Keeping Chickens in Your Garden ~ Jessie Bloom
    • A Container Named Desire: Making a Statement With Bold Containers ~ Bruce Bailey
    • The WOW! Factor: Principles of Creating Beautiful Container Gardens ~ Barbara Wise
    • Creating Garden Tapestries: Weave a Garden Together With Colorful Threads ~ Mary Ann Newcomer
    • Bring It On! Indestructible Plants That Survive the Toughest Conditions ~ Ciscoe Morris
    • Fresh Ideas With Succulents: Innovative Ways to Use Succulents in Home & Garden ~ Debra Lee Baldwin
    • Garden Opera: Drama, Divas and Heroes in the Garden ~ Marianne Binetti
    • A Symphony of Spring Ephemerals: Woodland Gems to Bridge the Seasons ~ Susie Egan

  • And then there are the people. In the last several years, I've met some great people, some of whom I now count as some of my closest friends. Yes, it's a long-distance relationship with most of them, but my life wouldn't be the same without them. I got to see and spend some time with many of the people I've come to know.

    Jenny Peterson, who hails from Austin, Texas, and I have had our heads
    together for the last several months on a project, so it's nice when we can
    share some face-to-face time...and a chair.

Part of the fun of going to a garden show is the horticultural entertainment. While it's nice to see things that you could duplicate in your own gardens, the truth is that most people won't, nor will they particularly want to. It's just fun to see what designers come up with when you turn them loose on the convention floor.

Hey! I have a harp! I could do this! ;-)

At the end of the day, I saw some things that inspired me to think about adapting them in some way in my own garden.  For instance, this pallet garden:

I've been saving a pallet for a few years now and Romie keeps asking me if he can throw it away and I keep answering him, "No!" I think this might be the summer I actually do something with it.  (To be fair, it was Fern Richardson who first demonstrated to me that you could grow things in a pallet.)

I also liked the way this black mondo grass was used in checkerboard fashion:

Here's another take on squared/sectioned garden space.

The musical notes attached to the decking add whimsy.

I would never have thought to put the ornamental pillars in the water.

Butchart Gardens framed up some succulents. Love this.

I just need some steel and a plasma cutter...

In the skybridge area of the convention center were several container garden displays. They may very well have been my favorite displays of all. I'll devote another blog post to those, since I took so many photos of the creative designs.


Robj98168 said...

I am so glad you had a great time in my fair city and at the Flower and Garden show. I really enjoyed your pics, they are so much better than mine! -Rob

Diana said...

Wish I'd been there -- your review and photos are great!

Kylee Baumle said...

Rob ~ I LOVE Seattle! Thank you, but it's really hard to capture decent photos under the show lighting. I was able to do a few with the lights up before the show opened on Thursday, but not that many. There was just so much to see!

Diana ~ Oh, that would have been fun to have you there, too! :-)

Christina Salwitz said...

Seattle sure loves you right now Kyllee and so do I! Thanks for showing my containers in the Glass Gardens NW booth. I can't wait to see your next post.

Kylee Baumle said...

Christina ~ I didn't know you did those! I've edited the caption under that photo to tell that! You know I absolutely LOVE your work. If I were a book publisher, I'd be hounding you to do a book!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is a fantastic tour of the garden show Kylee. I can see so much inspiration in these photos. I love the VW chicken coop. Someone was very clever.

Chiot's Run said...

Looks like a fabulous show - someday perhaps I'll make it out. The Pacific NW is so lovely for gardens, we've visited several times and have always enjoyed all the lushness of it. This past time we made it out to Mt Olympus and WOW it's like a rainforrest!

Aimee said...

I am absolutely drooling over these pictures - especially the woodland shots in the beginning. Swoon! I do love that VW Bus chicken coop too - pretty resourceful!

Aimee said...

I am absolutely drooling over these pictures - especially the woodland shots in the beginning. Swoon! I do love that VW Bus chicken coop too - pretty resourceful!

Sue said...

The Pacific Northwest truly is a wonderful place to be. When people ask me how I feel about "all the rain", my consistent response is, "it is a wonderful place to grow wonderful gardens".

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