The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is Seattle’s way of saying, “spring is near.” The show includes 17 delightful display gardens (see video below), hundreds of vendors, myriad free seminars on a wide range of gardening topics, and informational booths from many regional organizations, public gardens, and plant societies. The show runs from today (Wednesday, February 26) through Sunday, March 1 at the Washington State Convention Center in the heart of Seattle. You can buy tickets online or at the door.
This year I had the privilege of serving as one of the display garden judges. GardenComm, the Association of Garden Communicators, presented the Outdoor Living Award to the Orca Recovery Garden. We three judges liked that the garden was creative in the use of uncommon materials (old aluminum canoes as planters) while incorporating many northwest native plants in very appropriate ways. It almost felt like camping at the edge of the forest but growing some of your food in super-sized containers. The garden had a subtle feel to it, worthy of lingering exploration and enjoyment.
Judging gardens, or anything else for that matter, is challenging. My fellow judges and I spent three full hours examining the gardens, comparing their features to the criteria on our judging sheets, and discussing their attributes. We took our jobs seriously and at the end reached a consensus even though each of us had scored a different garden highest. Our top three were the same, however.
Pour another cup of tea or another favorite beverage and enjoy spending about 9 minutes with this video slideshow preview of all the display gardens.
I’ve been attending the NWFGS since the mid-1990s so I’ve seen a lot of display gardens. They’re always a combination of garden theater — fantasy perhaps — and real-world ideas that even those of us on the frugal gardener budget can incorporate in our own gardens. You’ll see some pretty cool plants, too. One that was particularly striking was a red-flowered form of Edgeworthia chrysantha that I’d never seen before.
Bold color was evident in several of the gardens, with swaths of delicate blue iris, a rich blue outdoor shower, and richly contrasting conifer foliage greens surrounding a natural outdoor swimming pool.
One of the first things you’ll see upon entering the show are a series of mannequins dressed in fantastic floral gowns. I never would have thought of using roses and orchids together in such a dress, but they worked well together.