Last weekend I visited the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and it was a trip to a Gardeners’ promise land! Stocked to the max with superlative seminars, overflowing with fantastic display gardens and awash with wondrous plants, garden art, containers, decor, bulbs, etc….made me think…”Why did I fly here? Really…the airline only lets you bring two carry-ons!”
You get the idea, right? Anything a gardener would imagine or want could be found here. And with so much garden speak and garden variety brimming about it was more than a little hard to be disciplined.
I managed to stay quite focused and calm during the seminars and my favorite ones were Joe Lamp’l’s “Growing a Greener World – Gardening to Make a Difference,” and Graham Kerr’s (formerly known as the ‘Galloping Gourmet’) “Eat. Grow. Gather. Share. (E.G.G.S.).” Both of these talks were entertaining and more importantly focused on amazing people and projects currently underway helping people across America to get growing some of their own food. Whether it be to improve personal health, build a sense of community amongst neighbors, be more resource-efficient and earth-friendly or to help feed those that are hungry, it is amazing how growing food can have a positive impact! To learn more about Joe Lamp’l’s work go to www.growingagreenerworld.com and to consider becoming a part of Graham Kerr’s proposed food initiative got to eggscartonclub.com.
Another favorite was Colin McCrate’s “The Peak of Perfection” which put forth a key concept that can help any edible garden grower. The message, “every plant’s single goal is to flower so it can reproduce and spread itself.” As elementary as that sounds, it plays a key role in knowing when to harvest edibles. The realization that edible crops have a harvest window based on the rate of their growth and that these plants find a way to get to the flowering stage no matter what, helps understand when it is time to harvest.
For example, a short season, fast-growing crop such as lettuce has a short window of prime harvesting. Furthermore even the ‘cut and come again’ varieties will burn themselves out after two cycles and begin to just throw up flower stalks instead of continuing to produce leaves. I found this helpful because oftentimes I find myself distracted with other things during what is most likely the prime harvest window of some crops because I’m thinking they can “keep” awhile longer since they are still in the ground/growing. To read more of Colin McCrate’s work check out www.seattleurbanfarmco.com
After many good seminars on Friday, Saturday was left to enjoy a leisurely cadence exploring the display gardens and finding some “garden must-haves”. The display gardens were exceedingly creative embracing this year’s theme, “A Floral Symphony,” in many different ways ranging from incorporating musical instruments such as pianos and harps to including subtle sounds found only in nature.
The People’s Choice Award was awarded to Sublime Garden Design for their holistic garden “Resonating Sounds of Nature ~ Finding Peace and Solace in the Garden.” A favorite as soon as I saw it! I love how they used classic design principles and embraced natural sound in the garden via water droplets rhythmically falling on drums. Think how relaxing it would be to sit in this garden on a rainy day when you can’t be out working in the dirt anyway!
Here are a couple of photos of other display gardens that offered unique beats…
The fine seating areas in the display gardens are always a draw for me. They are so inviting and offer different ways to relax in your garden. Here are a few pics of ones that struck a chord with me.
After picking up some lily bulbs and black-foliage Dahlia tubers, (items easily packed in my suitcase) I found myself in the steady rhythm of a full-blown shopping spree. I had no one to help me resist temptations. My friend that was with me shares a passion for beautiful plants and garden art and was picking up things at a tempo faster than the song “Walking on Sunshine“. This was NOT helpful…plus, she had a car to put everything in…(a little garden envy here :))
We walked the isles ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ over some fantastic items:
The shopping craze reached its crescendo when I was in a discussion about a very cool solar green house (retailing for a couple of thousand dollars) and whether I should order one since two others were being delivered to the Boise area next month. I needed it! And if they were already bringing some to my area…
Thankfully, there was a ‘ritardando’ written into my shopping symphony and it arrived just in time to keep me from going through with that purchase! I ended my spree on a pleasant note settling on an amazing wicker basket for harvest gathering. Of course, it was too big for the plane so my friend is keeping it for me until the next time I get to Portland.
The NWFG show was a true hit! If you’ve not taken in a garden show for a few years or perhaps ever, I highly recommend it. Lots of opportunities to learn about new ideas combined with creative, positive people makes for a great gig!