July 17, 2024

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Taste the Home & Environment

Brian Minter: Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Festival is coming

Brian Minter: Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Festival is coming

I’ve been a huge fan of this show ever since it was started in 1989. It’s now rated one of the top ten flower shows in the world, and it’s nice to have it so close to home.

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After being lulled by El Niño, Mother Nature’s rather rude introduction to real winter weather with such a bitter cold blast, has left most of us needing a little lift.

I have the perfect suggestion: the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival taking place at the Seattle Washington State Convention Center from Feb. 14 to 18. It’s a few weeks down the calendar, but just the thought of their beautiful spring displays is something to look forward to.

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I’ve been a huge fan of this show ever since it was started in 1989, by Duane and Alice Kelly. It was the first major public show held in the convention centre, and it has improved every year since. It’s now rated one of the Top 10 flower shows in the world, and it’s nice to have it so close to home.

The heart and soul of the show are the spectacular display gardens. When you walk into the venue, its like entering a different world. This expansive building is cooled just slightly to help preserve the colour and perfume of the thousands of spring flowers, winter flowering shrubs, perennials, and of course the many specimen trees which have been forced into bloom just for the show.

Theatrical lighting adds to the drama of all this spring beauty by bringing out the vibrance of so many bright colours, and setting the mood for individual show gardens.

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Displays at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival which is taking place at the Seattle Washington State Convention Center from Feb. 14 to 18th. Photo by The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

This year there are twenty display gardens with a wide variety of themes, but they all come under this year’s theme: I Love Spring!

Even though there will be many show goers surrounding each feature, I go back several times to try to capture the spirit of each design, and to learn as much as possible about facets we can introduce into our own home gardens.

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If you are looking for the best time to visit, go when they first open the doors at 9 a.m. or later in the afternoon and evening. These are traditionally the best windows for viewing with fewer people. It’s a very well attended show, so peak times can be extremely busy. Closing time is 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The Marketplace is a fun area to find novelty garden tools and such, and there is always a wonderful selection of unique garden art available for purchase. You’ll never find such a collection of cool things for your garden and home at any other show. This year also features a vintage market where you’ll discover old-fashioned glassware, furniture, classic old signage and so much more.

There are booths selling unusual plants, bulbs, and great collections of dahlias, but keep an eye out for the hottest new hydrangea. Called h. Eclipse, it has chocolate foliage and picotee red and white flowers, so it really is one to watch for in the Marketplace.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be issuing Phytosanitary Certificates so Canadians can bring their plant purchases across the border. Make sure you have your paperwork in hand before you leave.

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This show is also a great place to pick up some of the new garden trends for 2024. I like to walk through a couple of times, looking for innovative ideas I can use back home, and I’ve never been disappointed. There is always so much to discover, and all under one roof.

Various plant societies also participate in the show, and their members are always so willing to share their knowledge and experience. It’s a good time to ask questions and you’ll get some of the best responses from the most avid gardeners.

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Displays at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival which is taking place at the Seattle Washington State Convention Center from Feb. 14 to 18th. Photo by The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

This year, in the smaller more intimate venues and even some of the larger meeting rooms, 96 seminars are scheduled. They cover a wide range of topics so it’s a great opportunity to broaden your gardening education and all seminars are free with your show ticket.

There’s even a presentation on Food Garden Design with Kate David. Most of us grow a food garden, but perhaps it’s not the most inspiring. This is the perfect time to learn about some new concepts.

Another interesting topic is Garden to Glass; a great seminar on making garden cocktails. Robin Haglund will inspire you to expand your use of herbs and edible flowers to create some wonderful garden refreshments.

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If you’ve ever watched The Big Flower Fight on Netflix you’ll know of host Kristen VanderYacht. He will be there sharing his amazing ideas on creating eye-popping floral structures and follies.

As usual, you’ll have fun watching the floral competitions and challenges between talented participants.

To keep your strength up, there are great food venues all through the show, as well as terrific Seattle restaurants nearby for your enjoyment.
If you visit the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival website  you’ll find full details as well as suggestions for accommodations and downtown Seattle attractions. Early bird tickets are also available online.

It’s hard to think of a better late winter pick-me-up than this remarkable flower show. From the Lower Mainland it can be a day trip, or a weekend getaway, but it is so worthwhile, and something you can contemplate with anticipation.

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