Flower & Garden Show has new look
by Deborah Stone
SEATTLE - The 13th annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show opens its doors Feb. 7 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center with a brand new look, a fresh layout and new displays.
The renovation includes redesigned and enlarged paths for visitors to wander through the show gardens, commercial exhibits and commercial displays. More open spaces have been created to offer better garden-viewing areas and better traffic flow.
In the most popular area of the show, the display gardens, stunning garden scenes have been designed to astonish visitors and offer them refreshing ideas for their own gardens. There are 27 full-size gardens, ranging in size from 434 sq. ft. to over 1,500 sq. ft., created by the top nurseries and landscape designers from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Some of the highlights in this area include a pirate ship wreckage, a wedding night garden, a classic Chinese garden, a Mediterranean garden and a water garden featuring Koi.
Local landscape designer, LBL Landscape Group, of Woodinville, is among those selected to have a display garden at the show. This is the company's third year for this prestigious honor. Owner Linda Fraser has been in business for over 15 years designing high-end residential gardens using natural materials.
Her associate Larry Zimmer says, "Our goal has been to be very realistic. We tend not to be theatrical as we specialize in carving out portions of existing gardens to create garden rooms and friendly settings using real materials like natural stone. We also focus on designing water features. Water is very soothing for people and I know for myself that I can sit by water for hours as it's comforting to me."
LBL's show garden is entitled "With Water and Stone" and according to Zimmer, it is a realistic garden that someone could imagine creating in their own landscape. The use of natural stone softened by plantings dominates the garden.
The focal point is a columnar stone water feature in a pond. The feature encourages the visitor to move beyond the flagstone patio to the terraced hillside garden and to take in the views from above. The slope incorporates granite outcroppings and pathways bordered with stone to create the terraces ascending the hillside. Plantings include a variety of foliages and textures to provide seasonal interest and blend in to the natural surroundings.
"We are excited to be a part of the show again this year," comments Zimmer. "It's an honor to be selected and a definite ego trip. Each year we exceed our own expectations and it feels so good to be proud of what we have created. The show has been excellent exposure and recognition for our company and the whole experience is definitely rewarding."
There's much work in putting together a show garden and each designer spends enormous effort and money to make his/her display appealing and eye-catching. The companies have only three days to set up their gardens and workers toil around the clock preparing the areas before the show opens.
"It definitely is an intense experience," says Zimmer, "but it is worthwhile, especially when it generates awareness of our company's expertise and leads to future sales."
In addition to the show gardens, numerous gardening gurus will present over 100 seminars and hands-on demonstrations on a wide variety of garden-related topics through the Sunset seminar series.
Another feature of the Flower Show that has undergone change is the exhibit area. Popular exhibitors have created large, garden-like island displays using their own merchandise, making them part commercial and part small show garden booths. As visitors make their way through this section, they will encounter the commercial exhibit area with 350 booths of gardening merchandise.
"Great Plant Picks" is another innovation at the show this year. It is an awards program designed to help Pacific Northwest gardeners identify ideal plants for their gardens.
Favorites such as the orchid show, children's gardening area, educational booths, garden vignettes, ikebana and bonsai exhibits (now in a new, high-profile location next to the educational exhibits), DesignHome by Seattle Design Center and the professional floral arrangement competition will return by popular demand.
Tickets to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show can be purchased at the door or in advance at nurseries and garden stores. For information, contact 1-800-229-6311 or visit the show's Web site at www.gardenshow.com.