The use of a gigantic terra cotta pot among the large flat boulders as a water feature helped Jefferson Landscaping win this year’s prestigious “Founders Award” at the 29th annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show. (Andrew May/for Peninsula Daily News)

A GROWING CONCERN: Flower show gives attendees ‘Taste of Spring’

HAVING BEEN BORN near a 17-acre “greenhouse” to parents who both had a master’s degree in floriculture from Cornell College, it is easy to understand why I get so excited about the second-largest flower show in the country happening right here, every year, in our own backyard.

The Northwest Flower &Garden Show, in its 29th appearance at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, is an “all-things-horticulture” event not to be missed.

For the 18th year in a row, we loaded up a luxury bus full of gardeners from the Olympic Peninsula and had a rolling “garden party” all the way to Seattle and back.

I, like most professionals and amateurs, attend this botanical gala to see what’s up in the landscaping and gardening trade and to become aware of what is new, hot, exciting and on the cutting edge of the plant world.

This year’s theme was “Taste of Spring,” and that phrase certainly inspired a cooking, eating, drinking and entertaining meme throughout the massive show gardens.

What I truly admire about the Olympic Peninsula is an almost total lack of biting bugs and unbearable humidity.

This fact translates to extremely enjoyable evenings outside with all manner of family and friends.

And our very mild climate extends this outdoor recreation as well.

The underlying component running through the displays was of the outdoors as an extension of your living/entertainment area.

The designers incorporated stone pizza ovens, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, wine racks, dining nooks, romantic shelters, tables, chairs, patios, fountains and expensive lawn art into their botanical masterpieces.

In fact, this year was one of the least “over-the-top” show gardens ever, as practicality was consistent in all the gardens.

One could really see an element of city living or a backyard refuge.

Some of the displays combine great vertical walls, bold plant combinations, music centers and even natural water features and noise to mask the hustle and bustle of the street.

So creating your own private sanctuary from your job and outside life was a direction of this year’s show.

You really saw this in the vendors, too, since a plethora of artwork for the outdoors was on display.

Our own bus transported back a vintage Buddha statue from china along with colorful glassware.

There was a booth with recycled materials made into sculptural creations and another using brass instruments molded into kinetic sculptures and inspiring water features.

Extremely ornate rain chains for your gutters, some even glazed with ceramic inlays ($300 to $500), were for sale.

I also enjoyed the ever-increasing offerings of “fashionable garden clothes.”

It is increasingly possible to both look stylish and be out in the yard (not for a muddy guy like me, though).

And of course, various containers were both for sale and on display.

Containers are such a perfect way to garden because they are raised (no bending over), small, compact and bold in design and color.

My favorite piece of the show was a large terra-cotta pot (more than 4 feet long and 3 feet wide) tipped on its side among large rocks and spewing out water.

To me, it was a perfect scene.

I was, however surprised, that there appeared to be no “hot item” as in the past, when dozens of people would descend on some cool plant, tool or sculpture and you would see it over and over again as consumers bought and walked that item around the convention center.

So, as always, the current state of horticulture is very good indeed here in the Pacific Northwest, and once again, I (and all those in attendance) are excited and renewed in our horticultural pursuits.

So next week, back to work.


Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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