Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

What I'm Looking Forward To at The Northwest Flower and Garden Festival

It's less than a week away now! I'm talking about the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (which has been renamed the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, I'm not sure why, perhaps Northwest Flower and Garden Orgy was too over the top). I'm looking forward to it this year, not just because I'll be getting out of the house and into town, but also I'll be getting to see plants, and friends, and plants, and gardens, and shopping for garden stuff and plants. And did I mention plants?

There better be plants, and I mean for sale.

I've been looking over the list of exhibitors in the marketplace, and sadly noticed one of my favorites, Dig, won't be there apparently. Their booth has always been one of the best put-together, with the coolest plants around, plus it's always fun to say "Hi!" to Dig owner Sylvia. But I know they've been trying to sell their nursery and move on, so I assume they're not up for putting the effort and money into the show. But there are other plant vendors on the list, and you can bet I'll be seeking them out to see if there are any interesting plants for sale.

Dig booth from years past

Christianson's booth from a previous year

You'll find the exhibitor list for The Marketplace here.

I went to the Tacoma Home and Nominal Garden Show recently and checked out the Vintage Market, and the Northwest Flower and Garden Orgy has one too, which I love to stroll through and check out. You never know what you might find being used as a unique garden container.

A view of the Vintage Market, 2013

There is a list of vendors in the Vintage Garden Market here.

What else has gotten my attention this year? The show is doing something new, called Floral Wars. It's like a reality show competition, where two teams of floral designers are charged with putting together a bridal bouquet, a centerpiece, and a "surprise" floral creation in an hour or less. The designers must showcase American-grown flowers, USA-made floral accessories and eco-design techniques (according to Wikipedia, eco-design is an approach to designing products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole life cycle). Debra Prinzing of is the host.

One reason I'm interested in this competition is the cutting garden I've started this year. I know nothing about putting arrangements together. I don't know if I'll actually learn anything about the art of arranging flowers at this competition, but I did discover that all of the designers involved have Instagram feeds where they showcase their creations, so I've started following them there.

If you're on Instagram, and if you're interested, here are some links to Instagram feeds:

Odd Flowers

Terra Bella Flowers

From the Ground Up Floral

Countryside Floral and Garden

Flowers for the People

RHR Horticulture



First and Bloom

Tobey Nelson Events & Design

Read more about Floral Wars here.

The show does a container version of this competition called Container Wars. Read about it here.

Of course I'm going to be checking out the small design spaces called City Living. Although the big show gardens are always opulent and fun and sometimes full of some crazy stuff that makes no sense (but is fun to ridicule), I like the accessibility and the design constraints of the City Living gardens better. The designers have only 6 X 12 feet to make their statement. Although you're not allowed to get into these spaces, you can walk right up to them and peer at them from all angles, and since the space is so small that means you can get close to just about every element.

RHR Horticulture's City Living entry, 2015

RHR Horticulture, 2015

From 2012, when it was called the Small Space Showcase

You can read more about City Living here.

Like I mentioned above, I will be checking out the opulent Show Gardens. The theme of the show this year is "Garden Party" (sounds like a euphemism for an Orgy to me). It's the 30th anniversary of the show, and they want to celebrate. Honestly, I wonder how many gardens we're going to see where the central feature is a patio with an enormous dining area and grill, where the plants are an afterthought. I hope not!

Interesting paving choices from one of last year's show gardens

Combination bug hotel and garden wall from Birds Do It, Bees Do It by West Seattle Nursery, 2015

Riz Reyes show garden, 2013 -- a favorite

A detail from another favorite show garden, Paraidse (to be) Regained, in 2011

Read about the Show Gardens here.

I tend to skip most of the Seminars, in favor of shopping and staring and not sitting down and ending the day exhausted, but if you like that kind of thing, the show has a great lineup of wonderful speakers -- Debra Lee Baldwin, Susan Morrison, Rebecca Sweet, Sue Goetz, Darcy Daniels, Riz Reyes, and of course, Ciscoe Morris. I do plan to catch one show talk by Paul Bonine and Amy Campion on Thursday, on Pint-Sized Plants for Pacific Northwest Gardens. They recently published a new book that I've read some good reviews of -- Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, A Complete Homeowner's Guide. I'll probably buy a copy from one of the book vendors at the show.

See the Seminar Schedule here.

Don't wait till you get to the door to buy your ticket. You can buy it ahead of time online (make sure you have either a printer or a smartphone), and if you do, you get a break on the price!

Get your Early Bird tickets online here.


  1. It's hard to believe that the orgy (LOVE IT, you always make me laugh) is only a few days away. Your retrospective views bring back a lot of good memories. I can't wait to take it all in and to see lots of friends.

  2. What a great time, and since you're going and I'm not you're obligated to heavily blog your impressions. Losing Dig is very disappointing -- their booth is so fresh. And it's true, there is a lot of light-hearted ridicule/snark that goes along with the garden shows -- but it's because we love!

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  4. I fear "Garden Party" theme doesn't bode well for plant; it sounds like an invitation for outdoor furniture and gigantic grills. I too love the City Living designs: special attention must be paid to every detail in order to best utilizes the limited space (and there is no room for large grills!).
    Advanced tickets can also be purchased in some nurseries; I'll be getting mine at the West Seattle Nursery. Their 2015 'bug hotel' was great.

  5. I REALLY wanted to attend this show/festival this year but getting my husband on the road twice this year isn't going to happen and our niece's wedding takes priority. Next year, if I can't get him to make the trip, I'll strong-arm one of my friends or make the trip by myself. In the meantime, I await the blog reports from those of you up north!

    1. Kris, it would be great to see you at this show next year! I hope it works out.

  6. Are you going to the preview on Tuesday this year?

    1. Linda, I'm not going to the preview on Tuesday this year, and I am bummed that I decided not to attend because I know now that you are planning to be there. It's fun, but I thought I'd take a break from it this year. I hope you enjoy it, it's very nice to be able to see the gardens before anyone else, right after they're finished and are freshly put together.

  7. Have you seen It is a small flower farm in Skagit county that grows cutting flowers for flower arranging. They also sell flower seeds which would give you an idea of what they are growing.

  8. Sounds so fun, I wish I were going but alas, it's expensive for a couple days in Seattle. Have fun and I look forward to your report whether or not they have plants. They better!! ;)

  9. I have wanted to attend this show for so long, and the issue is almost always a business rip that I have to take annually that usually falls at the same time. The SF Garden Show, which was an unmitigated disaster last year, has moved back to the venue of its' glory days. I'm hoping for the best.

  10. Well it’s offically the Northwest Flower and Garden Orgy now!

    I hadn’t looked up the vendors yet but suspected DIG wouldn’t be there, damn. I hope Christianson's is. Off to look at the list on your link.... (and see you soon!).


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