Spring Arrives Early At The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival



The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle on February 20th, 2019.

Soon after The Arbor Day Foundation awarded Seattle University the 2018 Tree Campus USA award, the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival came to Seattle from Feb. 20-24.

The Tree Campus USA program works to promote the care and protection of the environment on college campus. Five requirements must be achieved before a campus can be given the title: the establishment of a campus tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, verification of dedicated annual expenditures on the campus tree plan, involvement in an Arbor Day Observance, and the institution of a Service-Learning Project aimed at engaging the student body.

Seattle U first received the Tree Campus USA award in 2017 and made it a goal to annually strive towards maintaining the criteria required to keep the accomplishment at our university.

The university has proven to be active in the community through its commitment towards caring for the environment. The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival was a lovely display of Seattle’s continuous love for nature and came to town soon after the award was given to Seattle U.

The annual Northwest Flower & Garden Festival first took place in 1989, earning the title of North America’s second largest gardening event. This year’s theme was “Gardens of the World” and featured 20 display gardens were built and put on exhibition for all attendees to see. This was the 31st edition of the festival and took place at the Washington State Convention Center.

The five-day event also had around the clock free seminars, more than 350 marketplace vendors, over 30 plant market vendors and ten 6×12 foot garden designs for “City Living” inspiration.

The event could be perceived as an indoor flea market due to its layout on the third and fourth floor that consisted of a variety of booths with displays and items on sale. The event proved to be popular in the Seattle community, as there was a constant flow of people participating in events and speaking to vendors.

Despite the event title, the booths were not limited to only gardening; there was food, fashion, and art stations that could be found throughout the convention center. The festival was broken down into categories that consisted of Container Wars, seminars, the marketplace, the city living exhibits, floral design workshops, the vintage garden market, and lastly food and beverages.

The floral design workshop took place each day with special guests: Jeni Nelson, Baylor Chapman, Meredith Isaacson, Hannah Morgan, and Jean Louise Paquin Allen. Each individual brought their talents to the event, with workshops ranging from floral headpieces to table runners and handtied bouquets. The workshops took place each day at 3 p.m. and were sold out beforehand.

The Floral Competition was a breathtaking arrangement of displays that each had their unique takes on the festival’s theme. Many of the area’s best floral designers were in attendance and built their displays strategically to represent their interpretation of the theme. Some gardens included “Imagining Ireland: Myth, Magic and mystery,” “Taoist Myth: The Isles of the Blest,” and “Alpenhaus- Switzerland and Germany.” Imagining Ireland had a display resembling a cottage with a small home in the middle of it and the garden based in Switzerland had a giant Swiss army knife in front of it.

The landscape design firms from the Northwest did indeed embrace the theme of this year’s festival with their impressive displays that allowed those in attendance to get a feel for gardening all around the world. From vast locations such as India, Italy, and Asia, to modern gardens from here at home, the gardens displayed creativity and beauty through nature.

A trio of luminaries were brought to the event to judge the gardeners. The judges were Charles A. Birnbaum, the president, CEO, and founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation from New York; Suzanne Arca, the founder and principal of Suzanne Arca Design from the San Francisco
Bay Area; and William A. McNamara, the president, and executive director of Quarryhill Botanical Garden from Northern California.

The judges also brought their own seminars to the festival that took place on Wednesday and Thursday of the event. The seminars were an excellent addition for those looking to become more active within the gardening community, for those who were looking for new skills, or simply for beginners looking for an intro into this creative world. The seminars ranged from honey bees in the garden to gardening without sprinklers and the power of house plants.

The event had a large range of competitions, exhibits, and events to participate in for individuals with little-to-no experience or those with passion and years of experience. There were booths and individuals present with specialization in pottery, farming, gardening, painting, jewelry, and even more. The event was exquisite and a lovely sight for people of all ages, ethnicities, and gender.

Myrea may be reached at
[email protected]