Art Blends with Plants at the NW Flower & Garden Show

Sculptures, fountains and water features blend gracefully in garden landscapes, and the Northwest Flower & Garden Show display gardens showcased inspiring combinations.

Massive fountain

Massive square stones stacked into an imposing fountain, which is skirted by blooming daffodils, greet visitors to the show gardens.

bird scuptures

These steel and wood sculptures pair nicely and seem about to take flight.

patio pavers

The “Good Times Great Food” garden features a varied patio landscaping with an assortment of stone pavers and groundcovers.

bar fountain pool

This bar-fountain-pool combination nicely edges a patio in a small garden.

water scuplture

An artistic water sculpture echoed by another shapely sculpture behind highlights one garden.

espaliered apple

A stylish espaliered tree dresses up this shed wall.

Taste Spring at the NW Flower & Garden Show

I can almost taste spring. Can’t you? When a warm wind casts across the yard like a fishing line tossed into a lazy stream, I cast my eyes toward the ground, seeking shoots and sprouts. When they appear, my spirit soars.

.pea shoots

Another way to get that feeling is to visit the giant Northwest Flower & Garden Show–excuse me–Garden Festival being held this week at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle (blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest).

Over the weekend I was in the cavernous show garden area helping set up the Arboretum Foundation’s always-enticing garden, so I’ll give you a tip: brave the crowds, traffic and parking, and come on down. It looks like it is going to be a blooming success.

Here’s another tip: buy your tickets online before 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and get the early-bird price, $5 off.

Display garden 2016

Giant colored pots lit from within highlighted one of last year’s display gardens.

I’ll be there a few times during the week, and look forward to meeting readers and gardeners. On Wednesday, I present “Eat Your Year: Month-by-Month Actions for Continuous Edibles” at 6:45 p.m. slide snapshot

I’ve mined my garden journal for cultivation and harvest tips throughout the year. You’ll be surprised what can be done in the doldrums of winter, and what needs to be done in the sweetest swell of summer if you want to eat from your yard year round. A book signing follows, and I look forward to personalizing a book for you.

Then on Saturday at 11:45 a.m., I employ my journalism chops by interviewing Seattle’s star restaurateur Tom Douglas and his business partner, wife and chief farmer in the family Jackie Cross. In “The Learning Curve,” we’ll discuss their quest to generate perfect produce for their many restaurants.

If you’ve eaten at Etta’s, Dahlia Lounge, Seatown, Serious Pie, Tanaka San or one of Tom’s other great restaurants in the last few years, you’ve probably eaten produce from Prosser Farm. Six years after breaking ground in the hills west of Prosser, they have learned much (I’ll ask about the rascally rabbits!) and Tom Douglas logonow deliver a significant amount of vegetables for the restaurants from their farm, taking the farm-to-table concept to a wild new level.

Tom will sign copies of his excellent cookbooks after the talk, and I’ll head up to the University Book Store’s booth (#211) to meet and greet and sign my own books for an hour, 1-2 p.m.

You might also find me at my publisher’s booth. The Mountaineers Books and their green living imprint Skipstone will have their books on display and for sale (booth #2354) and will have lots of authors as well as staff to visit with. Learn about recent and upcoming titles, including my next cycling book, Cycling the Pacific Coast: A Complete Guide, Canada to Mexico, which will be out this fall.

I hope you’ll consider attending one or both of my events, but do you realize how much there is to do at the show?

  • Attend one of the 110 seminars and demonstrations going on throughout the show. Besides learning and being entertained, you’ll get to sit down and relax after touring the giant exhibit hall and display gardens.
  • Speaking of which, tour the 22 show gardens for inspiration and that “taste of spring.”
  • Shop at the 350 exhibitors offering garden, nature-related and gourmet food goods in the Garden Marketplace. I especially like the non-profit organizations that offer information and help build our gardening community. I also enjoy touring the Vintage Garden Market to find some rusty old thing that would give my garden a bit more character.

    Windows

    Old windows repurposed into a shed — probably the easiest way to build a cold frame.

  • Snack and sip your way through the Tasting Corner, a new gourmet food and beverage marketplace offered this year. Nearly 30 vendors will offer samples of their tasty wares.

This is the second largest garden festival in the U.S., so plan enough time to enjoy it fully. It’s a great way to get spring underway, even while waiting for those first buds to break.

Garden Show Images: Pathways, Ponds and Peculiarities

Back from my annual visits to the region’s garden shows, which filled my head with ideas for pathways and fun garden additions. I was also amazed at the materials used for the hardscape and water features, and had a very enjoyable time helping one display garden become reality.

Here are pictures from Portland’s Yard, Garden & Patio Show and Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

A scene from the Hoh Rainforest was the theme of the Arboretum Foundation's garden. I had the pleasure of helping bring this one to life.

A scene from the Hoh Rainforest was the theme of the Arboretum Foundation’s garden at the NW Flower & Garden Show. I had the pleasure of helping bring this one to life.

Hoh Path

A path through a nurse log was part of the Hoh Rainforest display at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Lookout Path

Flowers line the path to a forest service lookout tower in this display at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Circle Path

Large circular stepping stones blended beautifully with washed gravel in a pleasing curved path in this Yard, Garden & Patio Show display.

Grassy Bridge

“Tough to mow” was my first thought when seeing this grassy bridge in a garden at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Stone Bridge YGP

Here’s a well-built stone bridge at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show.

Rocky Waterfall YGP

An impressive combination of stone products created this inviting waterfall at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show.

Salmon Stream

Salmon (of the porcelain variety) headed upstream to spawn in a display garden at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Lit Pots

Giant recycled-plastic pots lit from within and gabion walls with galvanized metal screens highlighted this garden at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Glamping

Glamping in a Southwest cactus garden was part of this display at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Garden Theater

Movie night in the garden – complete with s’mores and a fire pit – looked very inviting in this display at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show.

Coghlan Ikebana

Simple and elegant with just two elements, this ikebana arrangement by Charles Coghlan caught my eye at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

Dizon Ikebana

Adding just a third element, this arrangement by Mina Dizon was also spare and striking at the NW Flower & Garden Show’s ikebana display.

Cezanne Quote

A quote from the artist Cezanne mirrors my attitude toward vegetables at the Hudson Valley Seed Library’s booth at the NW Flower & Garden Show.

 

 

Inspiration, Seed Swaps Focus of Upcoming Events

The season starts early for a cool-season gardener. Not just the planting season, but the speaking-at-events season too. I’ll be at nurseries, garden shows and seed swaps in the next month, evangelizing about getting your edible garden underway.

Seed swaps first

This Saturday I’ll be hosting the Great Seattle Seed Swap up on Phinney Ridge. This first one happens on National Seed Swap Day, and is the first of four area swaps — three in Seattle and one in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Brussels sprouts in pots

I’ll also be at the Snoqualmie Valley swap on Feb. 6. At both, I’ll be giving a short talk as well as staffing a table for Q&A and seed research.

The King County Seed Lending Library has received a wonderful donation from the Organic Seed Alliance of Port Townsend. They sent copies of their recent book, The Seed Garden, for each of our locations. What a resource! It’s comprehensive, easy to use for research and a great read. The book was co-published with Seed Savers Exchange, another essential resource.

OSA also sent a generous supply of their locally adapted Abundant Bloomsdale spinach seed and phacalia tancetifolia, which has a flower that’s a pollinator magnet.

Come to the swaps to see the book and get the seed!

Nurseries coming

Before the swap on this Saturday I’ll give my first nursery presentation of the season, up at Swansons Nursery in northwest Seattle. It will naturally be about starting seeds, but also focus on soil-building at this time of year. And I’ll throw in some ideas about where to get inspiration for this year’s garden.

I’ll do another talk at Swansons on Feb. 27 on special techniques to get the most out of your veggie plot.

In March I begin my annual four-class series at another great Seattle nursery, City People’s Garden Store. I’ll head down to Madison Valley for the first talk on March 12 about starting the early-season garden.

Portland on tap

I’m getting out of town, too, with a pair of talks at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show in Portland. Walking the human-scale display gardens at this show always energizes me to try something new in the garden.

Get a book

At all the talks and shows, I’ll have my two books, Cool Season Gardener and Edible Heirlooms, available for sale, and I will happily personalize your copy with a signature.

I’m doing a special signing at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Find me at the University Book Store booth #211 on Friday, Feb. 19, 3-4 p.m.

Hope to see you at an upcoming event!

Starting Your Edible Year: Free Classes Begin Sunday

Do you want to get started in the vegetable garden, but are unsure what to do right now? Come to my first free class this Sunday, March 15 at City People’s Garden Store in Seattle’s Madison Park.

seedling closeup

I’ll share a bunch of timely reminders in “Start Edibles Early for Longer Harvests.”

Now is a great time to get an early batch of edibles into the ground, and plan for multiple harvests.

The class is the first of “The Edible Year, a four-part series that runs through early June. Each class is at 11 a.m.

Here’s the whole series:

  • March 15 — “Start Edibles Early for Longer Harvests”
  • March 21 — “Soil-building and Amending for Edibles”
  • April 18 — “Growing Great Tomatoes”
  • June 7 — “Think Next Spring: Starting Long-season Vegetables”

If you’re in West Seattle or across Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula, you might be interested in these other talks on my calendar this spring:

  • April 12, 1-2 p.m. I’ll do an interactive “Season Extension Demo & Talk” at West Seattle Nursery & Garden Center. Please note: this is an outdoor location, under a tent, so dress for weather.
  • May 20, 9:30 a.m. I’ll travel to Kingston for a talk on “Planning For Year-round Edibles.” It’s sponsored by the Kingston Garden Club, but open to the public.

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