SO HERE WE are in a new year, with strands of tinsel still clinging to the carpet, empty bottles of champagne in the recycle bin and the prospect of a fresh start current in our minds.
As we contemplate the prospects of New Year’s resolutions, I have one to offer for any gardener, would-be horticulturalist, or any person who just likes to admire flowers: Resolve to go to the 2018 Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Feb. 7-11 at the Washington State Convention Center, in stately downtown Seattle.
Not only is this the country’s second largest flower show, but it is its 30th anniversary as well. Any event that lasts 30 years has something right going for it, so it only makes sense that this is the year you attend (or like so many folks, go yet again and again).
This year’s theme is “It’s a Garden Party,” and nothing is closer to the truth than that slogan.
I have been taking 45 people on a Peninsula Daily News Rolling Garden Bus adventure for the last 18 years, and half of the bus has been with us for three years or more, so they know that going once to this horticultural extravaganza is just never enough (details on how you can go with us are at the end of this column).
To begin with, the Flower and Garden Show is a massive idea factory.
I believe plagiarism is the world’s second oldest profession, and this is one place to borrow, photograph and mimic ideas, structures, plans, designs and botanical groupings.
And if it’s not for the ideas that one can glean from the garden show, then certainly attend for the inspiration.
To begin, the over 20 magnificent and massive show gardens are a horticulturist’s dream.
They are created by the leading landscape and design professionals of our region and are a collection of the finest plants, materials, floral colors, textures, artwork and lifestyle features that my industry has to offer.
You also have a chance to talk with the design staff, pick their brains and gather information as each garden offers its own printed brochure.
I must confess, even I come back every year with a treasure trove of new ideas, ripe for the taking.
But that is so only the beginning.
One of the best reasons to go is to stroll the “Garden Marketplace” payment method in hand.
This year over 350 vendors offer a cornucopia of garden products including everything from metal and glass or artwork, to sculptures, books, bees, services, even decks, lighting, plants, seeds, bulbs, clothing, or the newest in gardening gadgets.
Here on the Peninsula, we definitely suffer from low inventory and have but a few garden outlets, thus duplication among our gardens is bound to happen — and who wants to see the same twirling metal ornament in someone else’s yard?
For a glorious five days the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle is the largest horticultural mall in America.
Do not miss this once-in-a-year opportunity.
Next of course is the industry-renowned seminars that are offered at the Flower and Garden Show. There are over 100 free seminars being taught by acclaimed garden writers (sadly not me, I guess I’m not acclaimed, sigh) designers, and world-famous horticulturalists sharing tips, information and “how to” advice to the “newbie” as well as the most experienced gardener.
Many people come to the show for several days, just to attend these diversified, free lectures.
And the show makes it easy with single-day tickets at $24, early-bird specials, two- and three-day passes, and discounts for students and young children.
For full details about pricing, hours, garden vendors and more, go to www.gardenshow.com.
But also attend the “Container Wars” and “Floral Wars” competition that pits garden and decorating luminaries against one another in eye-catching competition while racing the clock and sharing helpful advice.
There is also the not-to-be-missed “Great Plant Picks” area featuring new and exciting botanical ideas for our region and information galore.
The flower show also features the magnificent sky bridge and the tasting corner with dozens of regional culinary treats and fine organic craft foods and beverages.
For your ease and convenience, they provide two spots where you can check in your purchases for free, so your hands are unencumbered, while your parcels sit secured as you shop (a double bonus round).
So beg, borrow, but do not steal your way to this show, only one month away, which means you need to make plans now. Call friends and make a road trip out of it, before cabin fever sets in.
Or, let us do all the work and book a seat on the PDN magical mystical Garden Bus.
Departing opening day (Wednesday, Feb. 7) and arriving in a luxury bus minutes before the doors open on the first day. It makes you one of the first 100 people to get inside this marvelous show.
All food, drink and transportation are included, and we will even bring your purchases down to the bus and then load them into your car when we return.
On the way to Seattle, we will discuss the show, garden chores and jobs to be doing now, preparing you for how the flower show can help you accomplish these tasks.
A full question and answer period on the way home provides each participant one-on-one consultation time and unlimited laughs.
The price is $115 per person, or $220 a couple (any type of couple) and we have pickup points in Port Angeles (6 a.m.), Sequim (6:25 a.m.) and the Highways 104 and 19 junction (7:25 a.m.). Give me a call at 360-417-1639 and book your seats on the Garden Bus for an unforgettable time.
Truthfully, please, please, just find some way to go, any way to go, because this is a gardening event not to be missed.
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).