From the Potting Shed

Gentlemen, start your seeds

The official start to spring in the Northwest, has to be Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show, which is the 3rd largest in North America.  I guess there was one last week in Tacoma and there will be one at the end of Feb in Portland.  East-coasters will sniff in derision, saying the only one of note is the 175 year old Philadelphia Show.  But then those who go to the prestigious Chelsea in May or Hampton Court in July, may rub shoulders with catch a distant glimpse of royalty, or a garden gnome.  “The Chelsea rules forbid the use of coloured sculptures, so garden gnomes have been forbidden throughout its history. One frequent exhibitor, Jekka McVicar, used to smuggle a gnome into her exhibits.”  At least until last year, when the RHS lifted its 100 year ban.

I’ve been attending the NW Flower and Garden Show for more years than I can count, but have only been snapping pics for the last few years.  I like to see what themes come out each year.


2010 was the year of green walls and DIY.  There was a lovely Farm in the City by Jessi Bloom and Seattle Tilth, and a memorable Winter Garden by Bob Lilly, Phil Wood and the WA Park Arboretum.  Everyone wanted to come pat the living wall at the Hardy Plant Society of Washington booth.


In 2011, we saw books matched by color to the plants (or was it the other way around?), and dreamy English-style cold frames and rhubarb forcing pots at the Christianson‘s display.

Cold Frames and Forcing Pots


In 2012, I saw a more gritty type of gardening. Lots of black and white, lots of textures with muted colors. The green wall theme continued, often combined with DIY in pallet gardens.

Gritty Textures at the HPSW booth

.Pallet Wall

The most delightful was the Steam-Punk / Victorian Naturalist display by Cultivar LLC.

Victorian Naturalist


Steam Punk Skull

There were lots of birds appearing in sculpture and metal, and another great display by the WA Park Arboretum of a bird blind and taxidermy birds. The Eat Your Yard display delighted with a repurposed craigslist VW Bus turned Chicken Coop.  This was a great year for using all of your senses.  This fabulous pot was turned into a drum, and carefully timed water drops bounced off the surface.

Rain Drum


I don’t have great photos of the show this year (terrible garden show lighting).  However, there were fantastic plants on display in Riz Reyes’ Lost Gardener Display, stretching your comfort zone, and in the WA Park Arboretum New Zealand Display (complete with Hobbit House, naturally).

.Hobbit House

But for me, it’s always about the little details, the simple gardens, an idea to carry with me.  Maybe even a garden gnome.What are you looking forward to seeing at the flower show this year?

Succulent Seascape

Succulent Display