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.