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Pacific Northwest | January 30, 2005Pacific Northwest MagazineJanuary 30, home Home delivery

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Flower & Garden 2005
Fresh faces and ideas promise to
perk up this perennial show

Last year's People's Choice award-winning garden featured the theme of planting a row for the hungry, perhaps the incentive for several 2005 show gardens that explore the garden as useful, nurturing and community-building.
Last year's People's Choice award-winning garden featured the theme of planting a row for the hungry, perhaps the incentive for several 2005 show gardens that explore the garden as useful, nurturing and community-building. “A Garden of Eatin'” was designed by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and sponsored by the Garden Writers Association.

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show will be Feb. 9-13 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. For show information call 800-229-6311 or check online at Look for the show guide in next week's Pacific Northwest magazine.

" 'It's a pretty good show,' said young gardener McGrew.
And the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too.
'But if I ran the show,' said young gardener McGrew,
'I'd make a few changes. That's just what I'd do.' "

With apologies to the good Dr. Seuss's "If I Ran the Zoo," I'd offer a similar thought regarding our very own Northwest Flower & Garden Show:

"The tulips and orchids and that kind of stuff
They just might not be quite good enough.
You see things like these in just any old place.
It's awfully old-fashioned; please freshen with haste."


Now In Bloom
Soft, new green is an especially welcome color in winter, and the Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) offers shades of green in both leaf and flower. This sturdy perennial hails from the Mediterranean and is one of the largest hellebores, growing into a big clump 3 feet across and nearly as tall. Its veined, toothed leaves are topped with pale green flowers centered with fluffy yellow anthers.

After 17 straight years of conjuring up springtime in winter, this year's show has gotten the hint. They're not putting on just any old show. With creativity in high gear, they've infused the standard fare with first-time exhibitors, literary drama and a new British-inspired Flora Fantasia filled with visual pyrotechnics far beyond tulips and orchids and that kind of stuff.

At its best, flower show '05 will showcase the impressive talents of the Northwest gardening community topped off by national judges and speakers. At its most basic, it'll bring together so many vendors and gardeners and designers that your head will spin. For five days, the convention center is transformed into horticultural heaven, filled with energy and ideas, bustle and bloom; fragrance, too. Not bad for early February. Among the highlights:

Innovative Gardens and First-Time Exhibitors

A pretty little vegetable plot extolling the virtues of planting a row for the hungry captured the public's heart last year, winning "A Garden of Eatin' " the coveted People's Choice award. The theme of social significance returns this year with Seattle Youth Garden Works first-ever show garden. Its theme of urban land use and food security is an unusual one for show-goers. These disadvantaged teenagers will express via the medium of soil and plants what they've learned about urban agriculture, environmental stewardship and nutrition from the earth. Each element of the garden supplies food, medicine or other harvestable materials, but the overall theme is a larger one of gardens as a place of safety, solace and community building.

The concept of useful and nurturing outdoor spaces continues with a Native American medicine wheel in a garden crafted with the ancient art of feng shui in mind. Designed by Bill Peregrine for Malone's Landscape, it features a peace pole surrounded by culinary and medicinal plants.

This year's Washington Park Arboretum display, created by Brad Pugh and a host of volunteers, celebrates the Arboretum's style of international fusion as well as its botanical treasures.


St. Helen's Literary Stage introduces a venue for literary expression. If you haven't had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading by Steve Lorton of Sunset magazine, this will be your chance to see him peer over his glasses while eloquently summoning up inspiring words from his most favorite nature poets.

Actor Roy Dicks will be back to reprise his role as the erudite Beverley Nichols in a one-man show that proves the witticisms and wisdom of this ultimate British gardener as sharp and engaging today as when they were first written in the middle of the last century.


Celebrity gardeners Noel Kingsbury and Wayne Winterrowd are traveling from England and Vermont, respectively, to speak at the show. A great new idea this year is the panel discussion presented by Classic Nursery, which gives show-goers the chance to spend an hour listening to a spirited discussion of styles and interests by an impressive bunch of Northwest landscape designers. "Dozen Designers In a Day" (Feb. 12, 11 a.m. to noon).

Flora Fantasia

In search of more visual interest, show managers came up with the idea of flowery vignettes inspired by Britain's famous Chelsea Show's Central Pavilion. Five designers are creating expansive floral fireworks, including a Tradescant Garden commemorating the famous 17th-century father-and-son plant-hunting duo, created by the crowd-pleasing Christianson's Nursery near Mount Vernon.

Inhale deeply to find B&D Lilies' shabby-chic display of more than 500 oriental and asiatic lilies.

Even if you've waded through all 17 past years, be assured the flower-show folks have created five very full days of uniquely exciting activities and displays to justify attendance again this year. Besides, it's a chance to see all your gardening friends as they emerge from the winter doldrums.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle free-lance writer and contributing editor for Horticulture magazine. Her e-mail address is

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