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:
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.
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?
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.
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.)
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.
Thanks for the peek! I’m going tomorrow morning, with the hordes. I’m also blogging it for the show’s site, so I’ll leave my more sarcastic comments for here or my own blog. :) I wondered about that too, how “green/sustainable” is it to truck all that stuff in and out again? Not very, I’m sure. Look forward to reading your posts! Wonder if we’ll pass each other without realizing it… if there is a next year, we should organize a bloggers’ forum or something. Or at least a group lunch.
Thanks for the sneak preview. I am not going, and I know that I will regret it. Having gone for so many years, while it was a spectacular show. I just wanted to live with my memories this year.
What sad news that it might no longer be with us anymore.
That said, it was a inspiration, and a wonderful treat to see plants blooming in what for us was still the end of winter.
Knox Gardner says
I think this entire theme is contrived, considering the point of the show is to get folks to shop like mad, and if you consider the cost of the outdoor furniture on display (and last year’s tons of steel for those outdoor kitchens!).
Last year there was a display garden with lots of veg, including a green roof of corn and chickens! It was a total inspiration.
I can’t wait to go today and see what Raintree Nursery has. I want to come home with some berries and a tea plant to try.
I would have loved to meet you today as I so enjoy reading your blog! They need a garden blogging forum somewhere…
I look forward to the rest of your coverage and will be posting my own pictures as well today.
sustainability is an all round tough one, i just hope that they take their own advice and repurpose / reuse. having said that, and since i can’t journey west to make it to this specatular show (looking forward to more from heavy petal!), i am now chomping at the bit for the upcoming Canada blooms show march 18 but that sure seems a long way off right now…