Once a year, for the past 29 years, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show has awakened visitors’ senses to the sights and sounds of spring, but the magic does not happen overnight. It’s a choreography that begins during the current show, and work on the next year begins soon after the show closes and is dismantled.
The next theme is announced during summer. Lloyd Glasscock, the garden coordinator, invites participants from the current year’s show to apply with concepts for the theme. New participants are also encouraged. In addition to the design concept, participants ask for shapes and square footage on the floor, all to be negotiated. The show does not dictate stone or plant material and designs get negotiated and approved in September.
For this year’s show, the construction of the 22 gardens — 17 of which were juried entries — began on Friday, Feb. 17 with hardscape and sawdust. The designers had three and a half days to build their garden, starting the next day. Gardens are designed to be mature, with all plant material labeled for visitors to enjoy. Everyone had to be off the floor by Tuesday at noon so the judging could begin.
The judging is done in an international style, which means that multiple gold and silver awards may be given. In addition to these, there are garden magazine awards, local awards and the coveted People’s Choice Award.
The Kitsap Connection
Susan Calhoun with Plantswoman Design, Inc., of Bainbridge Island, returned this year for her seventh garden design at the show. This year, “Garden on Tap” had a craft brewery theme, which is a fairly “hot trend in the U.K. right now,” she said. It is a good way for “home brewers to show off their efforts and friends get a place to hang out” that works perfectly as a dry place to shelter in the garden.
The display garden included an unused garden shed that was transformed into a garden pub. Calhoun said that the Sunday buildup went fairly smooth and one small modification “provided better visual access to the inside of the garden.”
She enjoys participating in the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and said she gets lots of positive feedback from other designers and the public. Her design focus remains on plants and a design that is attainable for the average gardener.
Plants for “Garden on Tap” were sourced from Monrovia and beautiful peonies were forced. Monrovia provided the labor and also built the water feature for “Garden on Tap,” which was awarded a silver medal.
“The Fruits of Our Labor” was a rugged backyard mountain setting that featured huge rocks and ancient trees and was designed by Elandan Gardens, founded in 1993. Elandan Gardens of Bremerton transported a very mature contorted filbert, a bonsai mountain hemlock and two very mossy Gravenstein apple trees in a garden with gnarly wood-accent pieces.
Sue Goetz, formerly of Gig Harbor, designed “Mid-Mod-Mad…It’s Cocktail Hour!” and won a gold medal, the Fine Gardening Magazine design award, the Sunset Magazine Western Living award and the award for best use of color. Goetz is currently with Father Nature Landscapes in Tacoma.
In addition to the gardens, attendees had a choice to hear 74 speakers at 110 seminars over five days. Special features at the show included an ikebana display, floral competition, Container Wars competition and the Tasting Corner.
After the show closes, the landscape gardens are removed within 36 hours. Sixty dump trucks of mulch and saw dust are reused or composted by Sawdust Supply. The plants return to the nurseries or owners and go into a holding area to be sold or reused later. You will be happy to hear that very little natural material is wasted.
This show is the second largest of its kind, after the one in Philadelphia.