Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The NWFG Festival; things I liked in the display gardens

If you've been online much this last week you probably know the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival took place in Seattle Feb 14-18—it was a fantastic gathering of plant people from near and far. The theme this year was...
Which got a big "thumbs up" from all who attended. I felt like the show had been struggling post-COVID and honestly was a little worried it was going to fold completely—or worse—turn into a hot tub, sock and Veg-O-Matic sales event. Thankfully this year it felt like a renaissance was underway. There were so many wonderful seminars and plants (actual plants!) everywhere you looked. 

Rhododendron 'Ebony Pearl' in the entry garden...

Which is where I also spotted a pot of plastic sarracenia and an accompanying plastic slug. Why plastic sarracenia? I have no idea. 

This fantastic metal roof was the first thing I saw when I wandered through the big display gardens, the garden was titled HERE COMES THE SUN and was the work of Devonshire Landscapes and Zenith Holland Nursery.

Their garden was also the location of this great woven wall.

I swooned over this simple water delivery device in the garden called BACKYARD BLISS by Wintergreen Landscapes and Nursery.

But was rather annoyed by this fellow who sat there working in their booth for longer than seemed appropriate. He wasn't there to say "pull up a chair, let's chat", cause you couldn't actually walk into the "garden", you just looked at it (and him), from the side.

Check out that fabulous structure! HOW MUCH SHE LOVES US by Jen Szabo Collaborative Landscapes.

Love the staggered deck, love the metal "rib cage"...

The show lighting, while overall much better this year—no dark theater feel—still made it hard to take some photos, like of the plants in the metal wall, a great detail.

I have to say it again, I love that house-shaped rib cage! White was a great color for this venue, but I would love to see it black in an actual landscape.

Next up, HARVESTING BEAUTY from HomeGrown Organics and NW Green Panels. I'm usually a sucker for a nice metal greenhouse, but this wooden frame was lovely, as was the metal water ring at the corner.

There were many planty things to admire inside the greenhouse.

I especially loved the suspended logs, covered in moss and plants. So well done!

Little Prince of Oregon (Mark Leichty) and Relish Gardens were responsible for EMERALD REVERIE: LIVING A PLANT-FILLED LIFE...

...and it truly was plant-filled! Such a refreshing change from many of the show gardens that were just about the hardscape. 

One side of the garden was done up "stumpery" style.

Complete with a table base that I would LOVE to have in my garden.

Vertical bark planters hung on the wall separating the outdoor and indoor spaces.

My one beef with this—and most of the show gardens—was the need to look at the garden from outside. Here at least you could walk through part of it, but why not all of it?

This cozy reading spot finished off the garden's corner.

PLUNGE INTO SPRING! from Method Hardscapes was (as you might imagine), a hardscape lovers dream come true, but I did love the paver pathway across the water feature. It was generous in size. If I had been able to walk across it, I wouldn't have feared falling into the water.

Finally, the most interesting garden I saw at the show was one of the small, City Living spaces, designed by Richard and Deborah Bloom of Obsidian Wind Chimes.

The balcony display itself was wonderful, but the screen that fronted it was beyond amazing. 

It was a curtain of Proboscidea lutea (aka Devil's Claw) seedpods.

I got to talk with Richard about their work, and should have asked how many interconnected seed pods there were.

They left a few at the base of the curtain wall, so people could pick them up and look at them without destroying the display.

The center section was made of strung together Trapa natans (water chestnut) seed pods alternated with Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) seeds.

I kept hearing people ask "are those real!?!", to nobody in particular.

On the floor of the "balcony" display was a pathway of obsidian.

And on the table a sphere of devil's claw seed pods, wow!

In talking with Richard about their work I learned he and Deborah live in Portland, not too far from me. I hope they know how many people were completely enchanted with what they created.

Up Friday will be a look at the plants and the people of the 2024 NWFG Fest...

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All material © 2009-2024 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling this year's show had greater emphasis on plants rather than pavers. I wasn't sure, thinking my won excitement is coloring my judgment.
    The suspended planted mossy log was truly magical. I walked through that display multiple times during the day. Couldn't get enough of it.
    I was one of those gawking at Richard and Deborah Bloom's space in City Living. Wonderful creativity everywhere you looked, and obvious lean towards the dark side: devil's Claw, bat nut, a skull... I wonder where they get their supplies.

    1. I should have walked thru the greenhouse with the planted logs again! Every time I was nearby though it was full of people...

  2. The City Living display is spectacular. Easily my favorite of all the gardens you showed.

    Re: lighting. What is the obsession with color lighting at these shows? Why can't they have plain white lighting???

    1. White lights were just as bad. Thankfully there was more light this year, but white spots cutting across the displays made it nearly impossible to get a good photo.

  3. I'm so happy you (and Anna) have shared your photographs from the NWFG show, Loree. I get a much better impression of the displays here than I do from the Instagram posts. The displays are very impressive this year - the difference between them and what passes for a spring garden show in SoCal couldn't be more different. That screen is a marvel.

    1. I believe this is the second biggest garden show in the country (behind Philadelphia) so it should impress, but this year was especially good.

  4. Lots of creativity here. My favorite is the Proboscidea lutea (aka Devil's Claw) seedpods curtains. Maybe it is because we can grow them here in Phoenix!!

    1. I first saw those seedpods at the Casa Grande National Monument in AZ. So cool!

  5. Love the garden by Obsidian. So glad to hear the show has resumed it's momentum. Had hoped to attend this year but too many road blocks. Next year though. Looking forward to Friday's post.

  6. Oh, the drama of the screen, and the balcony behind it. Looks ready for a movie set. That is really cool. The mossy logs are really nice, as well as the table display. Thank you for sharing this, very fun to see.

  7. Plants > hardscape, yes, yes! Much harder to do successfully, too. So many cool things, the "ribs", the devil's claw curtain, the steps over the water, but plants most of all. Many thanks for the "tour".

    1. You're welcome, come back Friday for more plants!

  8. The universe seems to keep showing me devil's claws this year. Obsidian Wind Chimes must have had a lot of fun (and patience) making that display. Fun to spy people that I know waving in the background!

    1. You've got a better eye than I. I looked through the photos again (twice) and don't see the wavers...

    2. 19th photo down at the very back of the wooden greenhouse, maybe? There is a disembodied hand floating in the tree anyway.


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