Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2011

What a refreshing experience! We took a year off from designing and building a display garden at the show so I could write a book.  It was fantastic to stride through the gardens and vendor areas with no blisters on my feet, to actually be awake, alert and enjoying the show.  Usually after spending a solid 72 hours constructing the gardens, the week of the actual show is fueled by excessive caffeine with just to enough energy to sit in a chair nodding and smiling. Last year I suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and would duck out regularly into the barn to love my oxygen tank.  2010 was a rough year despite the 7 awards our garden won.

Our 2010 NW Flower and Garden Show Garden

This year I taught two seminars (“What the Cluck?!” about chickens, and “How to have your garden and eat it too” which was about Homestead design) and went to several other seminars which was great.  I wandered, shopped, brought my kids (6 &9) and said hello to friends in the business.  I loved seeing the diversity of the display gardens and will always appreciate the hard work that goes into creating them.  I noticed a few trends worth mentioning and a few timely elements missing in the gardens that I heard many show goers commenting on. Edibles mainly, were hard to find in the gardens this year- I found two gardens which contained food, but had to really look for them.
Trends I saw were the use of salvaged materials in everything – from the structures to small details.  In fact it made the “new” materials really stand out! One garden had some new wood elements that looked so freshly built that it stood out a little too much under the show lights.

Christianson Nursery charming display garden

Metal was also in just about every garden this year, much of it looked salvaged.  I absolutely loved seeing all of the rusty steel art, walls and planters.

A metal planted screen in the "shoe" garden

Metal grating used as tiles or pavers

Possibly my favorite container in the show

Many of the garden walls were built with metal this year as opposed to last year's gabion basket trend

One of the gorgeous spheres in Karen Stefonick's garden

A simple water feature in one of my favorite container gardens

Another major highlight for me this year was the Children’s Play Garden which was new and full of fun stuff for kids including chickens, rabbits, spiders and composting.  There is always a scavenger hunt, and this year it was to find little piggy banks in all of the gardens and kept my kids occupied for hours, which was then rewarded with a take home piggy bank! Having kids I appreciate anything and everything that keeps children interested in gardens… after all, they are the future – for us and for gardening.