Hello Spring, Goodbye Winter

Rain or shine, Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show is the perfect teaser to what the joys of spring has to offer. Everything from striking show gardens, seminars on how to get crafty with your garden, vendors and tasty treats, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show has multitudes of excitement and entertainment for all.

The show typically draws upwards of 60,000 people each year, making it the second largest garden show in the United States. When it started in 1989, the Flower and Garden Festival was the first public event to ever be held at the Washington State Convention Center, the venue it is still held at to this day.

The display gardens at the show are built by the most-renowned Pacific Northwest garden creators and these awards are highly recognized in the world of horticulture, adding to the uniqueness and prestige of the festival. These breathtaking gardens are assembled in about 72 hours and there are just over 30 participants in the competition each year, making this competition quite the spectacle.

The creators of these gardens vye for two awards: the Founder’s Cup Award (Best in Show), and the American Horticulture Society Environmental Award.

The judges for the annual display garden competition this year are James Alexander-Sinclair, David L. Culp and Dan Hinkley. All three judges are highly qualified and extremely passionate about horticulture.

Alexander-Sinclair, from the United Kingdom, is known as a captivating public speaker, award winning writer and an elected member of the Council of Royal Horticultural Society. Culp is well-versed in public speaking as well, as he has been presenting about gardens around the nation for over 25 years. His gardens have been featured on HGTV as well as Martha Stewart Living. Hinkley has a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture from Michigan State University and his M.S. in Urban Horticulture from the University of Washington.

The theme of the festival this year,“Spring Fever,” is being felt beyond the confines of the show. Some students at Seattle University have taken note of the brief stretch of sunny weather in recent weeks and are itching with excitement for Spring and all of the outdoor activities it brings.

Some, like Junior Environmental Studies major Alex Chapman, are already getting started in gardening efforts on campus. According to Chapman, Seattle U’s gardens are underused by the student population and not widely known about by most on campus.

“My [gardening] group just planted tomatoes, parsley, peas, lettuce, dill, garlic, onions, peppers, cucumbers and we will be planting flowers such as marigold and some others,” Chapman said.

Chapman said he hopes to educate more students about the work he and other volunteers do on campus to sustainably grow food.

One of the display gardens at the festival this year also focused heavily on low-impact sustainability. The Orca Recovery Garden created by the Puget Sound Conservation Districts displayed repurposed canoes and wood debris that can benefit the soil and provide a habitat for wildlife. Matt Maria with the King Conservation District described their garden.

“Here [the garden] we’re showcasing the beauty of native plants but also some useful plants that are edible in the canoes. You don’t have to just grow natives, you can also throw primrose in, because it’s beautiful,” Maria said. “We wanted to demonstrate the gradient of possible pollution from a trailer that isn’t just washed off, the water goes down and is directed into a rain garden where wet loving plants can utilize that water.”

The Orca Recovery Garden was strategically built to convey that your garden can be sustainable and beautiful at the same time.

One of the main show features at the festival this year surrounds the topic of fashion. Fleur de Villes, which translates to village of flowers, was implemented as a new feature this year. Mannequins were decorated with flowers by the top florists and designers in Seattle to model lavish dresses. The designs were exquisitely created and this area of the show was very popular.

The annual Northwest Flower and Garden Festival is a respected part of Seattle history, and people travel from all over the West Coast to learn, have fun and experience spring in full force.