Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

VanDusen Festival of Lights
Andrea Bellamy |

VanDusen Festival of Lights

With so many holiday events happening all across Vancouver in these final days before Christmas, it pays to be choosy when deciding which to attend. One event that never fails to deliver is the annual Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Now in its 26th year, the Festival of Lights is a Vancouver holiday tradition. Running from December 10 – January 2 (except Christmas day), the event draws huge crowds every evening to witness the 1.4 million lights adorning the gardens.

I went this year with my friend and our two-year olds, and to say the kids were in awe is a bit of an understatement (in fact, my friend and I were pretty impressed, too!). Every tree, shrub, pathway, fence, gazebo, and shelter seemed to have been painted with light.



VanDusen plant sale this weekend
Andrea Bellamy |

Yesterday, I joined the hoards of women fighting for the perfect pair of kicky heels at the infamous Army and Navy shoe sale (I restrained myself to three pairs). This is a legendary event, in which women (and a few really brave men) line up for hours to score discount shoes. When the doors open, shoppers run, screaming (literally), to the shoe racks, where they grab everything in their size. When employees come out to restock the shelves, they are mobbed. Crazy, right?


A scene from the annual VanDusen Plant Sale.

Almost as nutty is the equally legendary VanDusen Botanical Garden’s annual plant sale, coming this Sunday, when more than 40,000 plants go on sale to benefit the Garden.

Plant nuts start lining up as early as 7 a.m. for the 10 a.m. door opening. When the doors open at 10 a.m., crazed gardeners race to grab the hot plant picks, usually dragging a wagon or running behind a wheelbarrow. The prize? Gardener’s gold – that special one-of-a-kind plant or great bargain that can’t be found anywhere else. More than 10,000 people attend the sale.

I happen to have an advance copy of the plant sale catalogue (you can download yours here), a list of plants that reads like soft porn. While the sale is known for its fabulous selection of perennials, I was intrigued by the edibles, of course – unusual and heirloom varieties of apples; enough herbs to fill a estate-sized potager; tomatoes, mushrooms. You’ll also find a great selection of cannas, carnivorous plants, Pacific Northwest native plants, pelargoniums, rhodos – and many rare and unusual treasures.

The details

Sunday, April 25
Doors open at 10 a.m. (and close at 4 p.m.)
Great Lawn at VanDusen Botanical Garden
5251 Oak Street at W. 37th


Contest! Win tickets to the World Rose Festival and $100 in roses
Andrea Bellamy |

rose display

I know very little about roses, and I don’t totally understand their appeal. (Gulp! I can’t believe I just admitted that on a gardening blog! I feel like the Rosarians are going to target me for a hit now. Better watch my back.)

So when the fine people at the World Rose Festival asked me if I wanted to host a contest offering Heavy Petal readers a chance to win two tickets to the World Rose Festival being held in Vancouver from June 19-21, 2009, as well as $100 worth of rose shrubs from acclaimed nursery Select Roses, I actually had to think twice.

A rose show? Was that really a good fit for this blog? Weren’t most rose fanatics in the pinkies-held-aloft and blue-hair-rinse crowds?

Of course, I know that’s not really the case. Some of my favourite garden writers are rose nuts. (Hi Dee!) My mom is one of the most down-to-earth women you’ll ever meet, and even she gets giddy when ‘Heritage’ blooms in her garden.

So why do I have this prejudice against roses? In my head, they’re fussy divas that don’t offer a lot beyond the short time they’re in bloom. And as for how well they fit in a garden – like mine – that could never be described as “English” or “cottagey”? They just don’t go.

Of course, I could be completely off base.

I’d love to hear from you: do you think roses can be chic, easy, un-schmaltzy, and of value in an environmentally-conscious garden?

Now about this contest. First, a little bit of background: the World Rose Convention happens every three years in a different country, and this year is being hosted by the Vancouver Rose Society. The VRS decided that not only would they host the convention, but they would also organize a World Rose Festival, featuring a rose show, display gardens, workshops and lectures, floral design display, kid’s gardens, and a marketplace. You know – kind of like a small-scale Northwest Flower and Garden Show, but with a rose theme. I can just imagine how sweet the air will smell at this event!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post telling me why you think roses deserve a place in the modern garden. Convince me. The commenter who has me shoving aside heucheras or herbs to plant a rose wins.

The contest winner will receive two tickets to the World Rose Festival, held in Vancouver from June 19-21, 2009, as well as $100 in rose shrubs from Select Roses. Please note: Select Roses does not ship or otherwise transport roses; you must pick out and pick up your roses from their nursery in Langley, BC. Contest closes June 1, 2009 at midnight PST.


Top 10 Highlights from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2009

There’s always so much to take in at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and this year’s – possibly the last ever – was no exception. But where to focus your energy? Here’s what stood out for me.

viburnum new dawn

1. Japanese fusion. There’s something so very Pacific Northwest about modern minimalism-meets-Japanese tradition. One could almost say it’s a cliche. But it’s not to the point of being overdone, so let’s refrain from dismissing it just yet. And personally, I love this look. Click, the display garden by Shapiro Ryan Design is a gorgeous example of this garden style done right. Not only are the physical structures of this garden beautifully constructed but the colour echoes in the plantings are stunning yet subtle. In the top photo, Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ stands out against a backdrop of Anemanthele lessoniana (New Zealand wind grass).


Love the cedar boardwalk. So Pacific Northwest!

Rebecca Cole garden

2. NYC rooftop lust. Rebecca Cole’s Sky’s the Limit gave me serious garden envy (I wasn’t the only one lusting, apparently; this garden won Best in Show.) I love the innovative seating – both the structure, created of wireframe-enclosed logs – and the bold modern fabric of the cushions. She’s also created “area rugs” of hardy succulents – under the coffee table, for example. What a great concept. They’re permeable water-holding areas, slowing down rain water runoff and looking great in the process.

Rebecca Cole green wall

Sky’s the Limit makes a big impact with a limited colour palette. Love the Mondrian-esque greenwall.

modern shed

3. Fab Prefab. Modern Shed has been making waves in the design community for its minimalist prefabricated sheds. Their Studio Shed was featured in this display garden by Serene Scapes Seattle.

Smith and Hawken booth

4. 200 square feet of cool, clean modernism. The unofficial award for best sales booth goes to Smith & Hawken. Green wall panels (modified from the ones they sell, perhaps?) framed the area, while succulents and orchids spilled from oversized containers. The flooring was an attractive – if a bit unstable – mix of wooden decking and faux sod.

rainwater harvesting

5. Fresh water. This waterfall (by Mark the Pond Guy) is fed by rainwater harvested from the metal roof and stored in a cistern under the patio. Neat.

Poly pots

6. More succulents than you could shake a stick at. Poly Pots had a lovely display of cool-toned pots, along with a fantastic selection of rare succulents and other plant oddities. I only wished I could bring a few back over the border.

glass mushrooms

7. Doing shrooms. Fungi is hot this year. Fungi Perfecti was there, of course, but mushrooms were also popping up as garden art. Could we be seeing some cross-pollination from the popularity of the woodland theme in fashion and interior decor?


8. Citrus reign. Splashes of citrus dominated many of the display gardens. Here’s lemon yellow in a display by Pots2Go in the container garden gallery.

sunglo greenhouse

9. Compact greenhouses. Okay, so it’s not the sexiest thing in the world, but it’s seed starting time and I’m liking the compact nature of this “space-saver greenhouse” by Sunglo. Still too big for my space, but we’re getting there.

Willi, Lila and I

10. Going live. Seattle local Willi Galloway from Diggin Food met up with me and my family at Vios, a hopping Greek deli in Capitol Hill. It was great to meet in person after so many virtual exchanges. And as other Seattle garden bloggers have suggested, next time (and I have a feeling there will be a 2010 show) we’ll have to set up a garden blogger’s meet up.


Sneak Peek! Display gardens of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2009

I took the media tour of the display gardens at Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show today, and wow – what a trip! I’ve never seen a garden show in its assembly phase (although I’ve participated in disassembly). It’s great to see the gardens before the Show actually opens; you don’t have to fight through hoards of people to snap a photo. On the other hand, most of your photos are full of extension cords and ladders and garden designers’ butt cracks.

Before I share some of my observations and photos – sans crack – ponder this:

– 415,000 lbs of rocks and bolders are placed in the elaborate display gardens each year – several weighing in at over 7,000 lbs each.

– 60 dump trucks filled with dirt and mulch are trucked into the Convention Center to form the foundation of the display gardens.

– 3 1/2 days are allowed for display garden creators to turn their flat, cement space into the gardens we see.

Pretty impressive. Pretty grand. Not all that in keeping with the current climate of modest spending. And yet, there’s something so thrilling about it all. It’s just so over the top. Which brings me to the gardens themselves. The theme this year is sustainability, of course: “Sustainable Spaces. Beautiful Places.” Call me a cynic, but how do you reconcile that with the above?

Even if the stated theme hadn’t been sustainability, I think we would have seen “green” inform a lot of the 26 gardens on display this year. I expected to see a lot of green roofs and walls, and a lot of veggies. Green roofs and walls – definitely. Veggies? Not so much. I guess they’re just not as impressive. I’d love to see a garden show elevate the humble vegetable. Consider this a formal request. Thank you.

On the flipside, I was happy to see that the outdoor kitchen has quietly taken its leave, only appearing in one display garden, and even then, more modestly than in the past few years. (Now, could someone let Garden Design magazine know?) The firebowl also seems to have regretted its past indiscretions and vanished, which we can all be thankful for.

So if that’s the Not List, what’s the Hot List? Besides the surprising scarcity of edibles, here’s what jumped out at me at the 2009 Northwest Flower and Garden Show:

Entry to Cascadia

Native plants cropping up everywhere. In this display, by the Washington Park Arboretum, Phil Wood Garden Design and Bob Lilly, they’re the main contender, but they made an impact in several display gardens.

Elandan Gardens

Reusing and repurposing materials. The stumps used in this display by Dan Robinson of Elandan Gardens, Ltd. were harvested from clearcut sites. And what did I say about native plants?

WSNLA garden

Awareness of water conservation. Drought-tolerant plantings made several appearances, but so did the humble rain barrel, like the one in this garden by the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association, Partnership for Water Conservation, Walden Garden Services and Lucinda Landscapes.

Rebecca Cole Design

Green walls. Everywhere. This one’s in a garden by Rebecca Cole Design, Smith & Hawken and B. Bissell General Contractors, LLC. (More on this garden, a personal fave, later.)

New Leaf Creations garden

Green roofs are hotter than ever. So is solar power. Look up to see these technologies in play. The above green roof (and accompanying rain barrel) is in a display created by New Leaf Creations.

There you have the Heavy Petal overview of the 2009 Northwest Flower and Garden Show display gardens. Tomorrow I’ll have a closer look at my two favourite display gardens, as well as a report on the rest of the Show. For now, I’m going to bed.


Last-ever Northwest Flower and Garden Show starts February 18, 2009
Andrea Bellamy |

under the arbor

From the 2008 Show: Under the Arbor display garden.

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show, held in downtown Seattle’s convention center, starts Wednesday, February 18 and runs through Sunday, February 22. I’m heading down tomorrow to cover the event. I’m lucky enough to be able to attend a media “sneak peek” of the always-fabulous display gardens… and of course I’ll be reporting back to you. Check back on Tuesday night for your own sneak peek!

As you may have heard, this is likely to be the last Show in the event’s 21-year history. Wanting to retire and unable to find a suitable buyer for the Show, Duane Kelly, chairman of Salmon Bay Events, the company that founded and owns the event, has decided to close the Show for good.

Salmon Bay Events also owns and produces the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, which will also be closing barring a last-minute buyer. The Northwest and San Francisco Flower & Garden Shows are the second- and third-largest flower shows, respectively, in the United States; the largest is in Philadelphia.

The theme of this year’s shows is “Sustainable Spaces. Beautiful Places.” The 26 display gardens are pretty much guaranteed to be spectacular; in keeping with the theme, many promise to offer inspiring ideas about sustainability in gardens. Sustainability will also be the focus of many of the 120 free seminars presented by speakers from around the world.


From the 2008 Show: Molbaks container display.

I’m stoked to attend the show for a few reasons: first, it’s really the best garden show in the Pacific Northwest (and thus the only one I regularly attend). Second, I missed last year’s show because I was too pregnant to get health insurance for travel to the States. Third, it comes at the perfect time of year: a breath of spring at the end tail of winter. All the inspiration needed to jumpstart the growing year. Fourth, it’s probably going to be the last one. And I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

The last Northwest Flower and Garden Show will be held Feb. 18-22 at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. The cost of admission, which includes entrance to gardening seminars, is: $20 for adults; $9 for students 25 and under with valid student I.D.; $4 for kids ages 6 and under.


Guest post: Top 10 highlights from the 2008 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

As you know, I was too pregnant to make it to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle last week. Thankfully, my friends Caitlin and Owen (aka “O”), the brilliant minds behind garden design group Aloe Designs, made the trip and took notes. This is Caitlin’s report back from the show. Thanks Cait! (P.S.: Caitlin has just launched a new blog called Nesting, about “all things home and garden.” Check it out!)

Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2008
by Caitlin Black

With all this yucky rain, we have really been itching for spring and some garden inspiration. So O and I headed down south to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle. We took a break from it last year, so we were pretty excited to see what was in store for ’08. Lots of great goodies. We managed to complete it in a day and were definitely inspired by some great ideas. Some of the highlights:

1.0 Going Native

weekend escape.jpgIt seemed a few years back the overall theme was bulb mania. This year it was replaced by lots of exhibits featuring indigenous plantings and mild mulches, which as we all know require little maintenance and are drought tolerant – an easy recipe for any urban gardener. One we loved: A Weekend Adventure – by New Leaf Creations (above).

2.0 Eat Your Greens

potager patio.jpgThanks to the Northwest Horticulture Society, we were so thrilled to see that a large amount of the show was dedicated to kitchen gardens. From small container arrangements to large potagers this was definitely my favorite part of the show (above and below).

urban_garden_2.jpgI was just as ecstatic when I saw the live chicken coop at the Seattle Urban Farm Co. display. This was way too cool for its own good, with a vegetable garden-lined brick pathway, edible green roof, mini orchard, farm kitchen and the beloved livestock. Way to go guys!

3.0 Contemporary Arrangements

pots_2.jpgWe always seem to gravitate to the modern, but there were so many great
container arrangements this year. Check out these sleek planters (above
and below).

pots_1.jpg4.0 Think Green

Sunset sponsors this event, so I felt like a kid in a candy shop trying to make sure we made enough time to hear some of the speaker series. The most memorable talk was by one of their editors, Lauren Bonar Swzey, who spoke on the design savvy sustainable gardens she has visited over the years. Can we say “job envy”?

5.0 Designer Spotting… And a Little Bit of a Crush

jamie durie.jpgTo say that I didn’t go bright red and a bit sweaty when I got to meet one of my favourite international designers, Jamie Durie, would be completely lying. He was just as gorgeous and lovely in person. I talked with him for a bit about his books and even scored an autograph. O was thoroughly embarrassed for me.

6.0 Monrovia Plants

Monrovia is, in my opinion, one of the best plant suppliers out there. If my long-desired job at Sunset doesn’t pan out, I think these guys would be my second choice. It was great to see some of the new species they have developed. Two that intrigued us were Baby Bliss Flax Lily and Wate’s Golden Pine. Now if only our nurseries carried more of their stock.

7.0 Farmers Rock

We talked with some great suppliers in the Marketplace but our favorite couple were from Half Moon Bay, CA. Farmer John Muller and his wife Eda run Farmer John’s Pumpkins and distribute Franchi old world heirloom seeds from Italy. We bought up some gems and successfully managed to smuggle them back home – yippee!

8.0 Classic Designs

boots 1.jpgI have been on a serious search for some girlie-as-girlie-can-be rain boots. I finally found them at the Smith and Hawkins booth. As much as I am ready to see the rain disappear, maybe a few more days wouldn’t hurt so I can sport these cuties.

9.0 Eco Friendly Products

Two interesting products caught our eye. One is a non-toxic organic pesticide spray that has packaging reminiscent of Method. It’s called Pharm Solutions and is made locally in Washington State.

The other was a five gallon compost tea brewer made from a company called Keep It Simple.

10.0 A Resting Place

After being on our feet all day we were ready for a seat and a tall one. We found the perfect answer in Ballard at Kings Hardware – a local watering hole that served cold local brews and mini little burgers. A nice end to a great day.


2008 BC Home and Garden Show report
Andrea Bellamy |

So, I didn’t make it to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Although I knew it would be a disappointing alternative, I hauled my pregnant self to the BC Home and Garden Show as a sort of consolation prize.

It’s taken me a while to be able to write about the experience. I’ve needed time to gain some perspective. I’ve needed to simmer down.

When I got back from the show, I tossed a roll of toilet paper to my husband.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“The best thing about the show,” I replied. A free toilet paper sample.

Four days later, I think perhaps I was being a little harsh. But just a little. It was that bad. There’s really no excuse for it, either. A lot of money was put into marketing and executing the event. The show home featured “the latest in sustainable, modular-style architecture.” The display gardens featured a series of “urban decks.”

Then why did I find myself wandering through aisle after aisle of uninspired booths hawking vinyl siding, closet organization systems and gutters? How come so few of the booths were interactive? Why didn’t they offer anything back to the consumer? So many booths were promoting a service – why does that seem to mean their booths don’t have to engage the consumer? Why would I want to learn about a new credit card offering, chiropractic treatment, or newspaper subscription? And why on earth were there four booths selling massage chairs?

So I guess my gripe is both with the vendors’ lack of creativity and effort, and the event organizers for being indiscriminate in their vendor acceptance process.

Now I’ll say something nice.

Juliet Lin patio.jpgJuliet Lin did a nice little patio display using ELT green wall panels. It’s great to see how green walls can be adapted to a small space. Juliet even used edibles in her panels.

gsky.jpgContinuing the green wall trend, gsky Anne Talbot-Kelly Garden Design went for drama with this simple panel featuring black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’). See Anne’s comment on the thought process behind her design as well as a description of all the suppliers involved.



Gardening events February 20 – 24, 2008
Andrea Bellamy |

Update February 20. I’ve just found out that I’m not going to be able to make it to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show because I’m 32 weeks pregnant and can’t get insurance coverage. (I can’t risk going to the States without it, especially in my “condition.”) Thankfully, Caitlin and Owen of Vancouver-based garden design team Aloe Designs are going to cover the event for Heavy Petal. Thanks guys! I’ve also added another event closer to home – the BC Home and Garden Show (thanks for the reminder, Ren!)

Who knew late February was such a peak time for gardening events? If you live in the Vancouver area, there are three four worth checking out this week, from a big-ticket show to a small-but-enthusiastic celebration.

Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2008

The 20th annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show starts this coming Wednesday, and will take place February 20 – 24, 2008 at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. The highlight of the show is always the gardens, which, come February, are a welcome – if artificial – taste of the season to come.

The cost of admission, which includes entrance to gardening seminars, is $19 for adults, $8 for students 25 and under with valid student I.D., $3 for ages 6 – 17 and free for children under 5. Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

BC Home and Garden Show

This show focuses a little bit too much on the magic mop crowd for my taste, but since I can’t make it to Seattle, I’ll likely poke around the BC Home and Garden Show for an afternoon. There is a good list of speakers, and the display gardens look promising.

Wednesday, February 20 through Sunday, February 24 at BC Place Stadium, 777 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver, BC.

Seedy Saturday

Seedy Saturdays are taking place all across BC this month. In Vancouver, visit Van Dusen Gardens‘ Floral Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 23 for a celebration of heritage
varieties and organic gardening featuring more than 30 growers, seed
companies and exhibitors, plus a heritage seed swap.
Admission is by donation.

Seedy Saturday is also being held in other communities across BC, including Nanaimo, Cobble Hill and the Comox Valley. Check it out! Seedy Saturday is great place to find vegetable seeds for your entry into The Growing Challenge, or to stock up on seeds for your seedballs.

Hellebore Hurrah

Local nursery Phoenix Perennials holds its annual Hellebore Hurrah (“celebrating early spring and all things hellebore”) on February 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2008 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. They’re carrying Heronswood Hellebores for one more year – better not miss out!


CanWest Horticultural Show trends
Andrea Bellamy |

canwest_display2.jpgI stopped by the CanWest Horticultural Show last week (“Western Canada’s premier nursery, landscape and floriculture trade show”). Like most hort shows, the types of exhibitors don’t vary all that much from year to year, so what I look for – in addition to anything really different – are the overall trends.  


Not exactly a new trend, but worth noting because it’s still going strong, is a little rule of (green)thumb I call “foliage first.” (Well, maybe “good bones” should really be first, but foliage is definitely my personal weakness!) Bold/vibrant/dark/textural foliage ruled the display gardens again this year, making for some lovely green oases under cover at the convention centre – such a treat at this time of year. These two photos are of Garden Grove Nursery’s display garden, which, not surprisingly, won Best Nursery Display Garden.
Green roofs and living walls also featured prominently. NATS Nursery really impressed me with their huge selection of BC native plants and Live Roof display. I wonder how long we’ll have to wait to see green roofs really catch on.

As usual, chemical fertilizer and pesticide manufacturers were on the scene, but organic-based product manufacturers made a good showing too.

Tomorrow: bucking the trends.


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