Friday, February 18, 2022

There was a garden show & other photos from up north

In past years my coverage of the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival was pretty extensive; photos of the display gardens, floral competition, plant vendors, and more. This year, not so much. The display gardens were less grand, and I was distracted by the fact I was speaking (twice). I also needed to minimize my exposure to people—a visit to see my parents followed on the heels of the show and I didn't want to be a COVID carrier. Nonetheless, I took a few photos.

This framed moss artwork wasn't at the show, but rather at a nursery I visited en-route, Watson's

I stopped there killing time after a quick visit to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, and on my way back to pick up Andrew at a Tacoma bookstore (our traditional stops on the way up to Seattle). After browsing the nursery I still had a little time, and inspired by the wall hanging I drove to see how Patrick Blanc's green wall at the Tacoma Goodwill Headquarters was doing. Here's a photo from 2010, borrowed from Mr. Blanc's website...

Pretty nice right? In case you haven't heard of Patrick Blanc he is the vertical gardening King, I saw some of his work in Paris, all marvelous. 

Sadly the Tacoma work isn't holding up well. 

I visited in the past and was dismayed at the wall's condition, this visit I was hoping maybe it had been spruced up. Definitely not.

I wonder if it might look at little better come springtime?

On to the NWFG Fest! My favorite part the show has always been the "City Living" small space display gardens. Sadly the displays this year were a mere shadow of their former glory. Part of the problem was they'd been moved into the main hall, up against a wall with cheap, ugly door as the backdrop. 

These displays are meant to evoke a balcony or patio, and that illusion had always felt possible when the displays were in the skybridge, with the sky as backdrop. Not so here. 

I'll share a couple images from two I liked, first up Patio Passion from Zenith Holland Nursery. There was an agave...

The fact they cramscaped was a bonus.
Next, The Living Workspace, from Rooted in Landscape. How can you not be charmed by a display featuring a cat hanging out in a lofty perch? It had me thinking of my friend Ann's cat Felix, who has his own Instagram account.

The brief time I stood there I heard several people admiring the small aquarium. A missed opportunity for someone to have a booth nearby selling them!

Over in the big display garden area I only took three photos, this one is from A Seekers Sanctuary done by Crazy Hill Garden & Botanicals. While there are several things I would like to change (adding plants dripping down the sides of the structure, strings of lights rather than a chandelier, painted steps...) I still think it's the best thing I saw in a display garden this year.

Well, next to this fabulous metal planter, in the same garden.

I'm not sure which garden this vintage stone bird (a flamingo?) was in—as I snapped as I hurried past—but I loved it.

As far as vendors went the always fabulous Ravenna Gardens was there.

Selling only the best in gardening books!

Christianson's Nursery & Greenhouse was also back at the show, with a booth full of wonderful plants and a green piano at the center of the booth.

The 2020 show included the debut of Fleurs de Villes. By all accounts it was a hit and the flower dressed mannequins were back this year.

This is the back of the creation shown above.

I loved everything about this one.

Especially the fern frond bodice and neck warmer.

I felt bad for this exposed mannequin. Somebody get her some knickers!

It's hard to tell, but that's not a skirt; it's hip-hugging hot-pants. All around fabulous design here.

I loved this, but wish the palm fronds had stayed green and pliable. 

The design just looks sad with them all crispy.

I only managed to catch one speaker, Brian Coleman, author of Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest. That's my garden up on the screen! 

After my last talk on Friday I was ready get out and see some of the city, including a quick walk down to the Spheres to check on the plants. Seattle was hit hard back in December with extended below freezing temps and snow, I was curious if there would be visible damage.

The burlap-covered Pseudopanax are definitely taller then the last time I saw them in winter protection mode.

Hopefully all is good underneath the teepees.

The tree ferns were all toasted, but I bet after the old fronds are cut back in the spring lush new green will unfurl.

The Pyrrosia sheareri looked great.

Not so for the Ochagavia carnea. If they leave them I'd hate to be the person responsible for getting in there and cleaning them up, those babies are sharp!

All the agaves looked solid...

I wonder what's under that Martha Stewart worthy burlap cover? And how about the Sinopanax formosana next to it—looking grand.

As is this one. I'm definitely cutting my heat-dome scorched plant back this spring, in hopes that it sprouts new growing tips further down the trunk.

Finally, a very bright Edgeworthia in bloom, sunshine on a stick!

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. A mixed bag of takeaways from the NWFGF but I applaud the organizers and exhibitors for making an effort to put together a show despite the challenges still posed by the pandemic. I love the green piano and, with the one exception, the mannequin displays were fun.

    1. Yes, their "the show must go on" attitude is definitely worth applauding. Hopefully only up from here!

  2. I've always thought those vertical gardens have to require some serious maintenance despite how carefree they initially look. Loved that mossy initial image.

    1. And I think you are correct in that thinking.

  3. Thanks Loree! I am up in Canada---was hoping to visit the show this year but getting back across border was too troublesome.
    Oh well, at least I have your great book! Thanks too for the Spheres visit. Are there seeds on the Sinopanax? I had a tiny one, gone to plant heaven ----need to get new one.

    1. Thanks for buying the book! Wish you could have visited the show, maybe next year. Oh, and I do not think there were any seeds.

  4. Watson's framed moss is fantastic (makes me want to try making one). As with the sad, declining green wall in Tacoma, watering and regular care is a challenge and an ongoing commitment.
    The City Living displays should return to the Skybridge next year, and the mannequins to the low light conditions with the display gardens. The bright lights made me realize that the "fern frond bodice" was plastic.
    With all the excitement, I missed Christianson's extraordinary green piano! Boo to me. At leas I got your photo.

    1. I thought it might be plastic, but decided to not look too close and thus maintain the illusion. Bummer.

  5. Ouch that green wall is rough. It would be interesting to get a run down on all the challenges, looks like the cover structure was added in an attempt to address some of them.

    1. Indeed. I can't imagine that Patrick Blanc comes cheap, if there was money at the front end it's too bad the commitment didn't keep on.

  6. Why do you think the show gardens weren't showier? On all accounts, interest in gardening and plants is at an all-time high!?

    1. Because it takes many months and many thousands of dollars to plan and execute the big display gardens. I think everyone that was, or could have been, involved was concerned the show was going to be cancelled because of COVID. Plus I am sure they were concerned the attendance would be low, again because of COVID.


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