This week at Chickadee Gardens I bring you images from the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. The show, now in its 28th year, celebrated with the theme of National Parks, which are in their 100th year. There were display gardens, demos, seminars, and, of course, vendors at the marketplace as well as the antiques market. Today we explore the display gardens:
The theme "America the Beautiful" was used for designers to come up with their best interpretation to celebrate America's national parks and landmarks. With 22 gardens in all, it was a mind-boggling amount of ground to cover. I took many photos, but have distilled it down to a few highlights.
First up is one of my favorite gardens. I half expected to see Danger Garden living in this vignette. Its title was "Southwest Serenity" and was inspired by the national parks of the Southwestern United States. Created by West Seattle Nursery, one might be surprised that a dry Southwestern garden-style would be featured in rainy Seattle. Not all of the Pacific Northwest is a rain forest, much of it is high desert and chaparral landscape. Granted, not all of these plants would survive our wet winters, but it was a great inspiration to see something different and architectural - a plant-driven design.
It is supposed to "encompass views of Seattle's sparkling skyline, Cascade peaks and snow-clad Mt. Rainier in the background" -- I really noticed the cat, personally. A lot of bulbs and azaleas, it smelled wonderful. It's a lovely landscape that even had an outdoor shower. The take-away from this was to incorporate long-distance views. If only we were all so lucky to have views of Seattle's skyline.
This is "Discovering Alaska" by Adam Gorski Landscapes, Inc. A stream ran through this wild landscape, complete with salmon spawning.
The stream here was particularly realistic for an indoor garden show and the plantings felt believable, not contrived. Many native plants were also used here which is the take-away, i.e., go native!
This works for me because of its loose and organic feel -- it's not trying to be seven things at once, rather, the idea is clear and they stick to it throughout.
Plus, it was very attractive.
Next up is "An Orchid Eruption - Honoring Volcanoes National Park." It's true, orchid-lovers -- even these tropical-looking beauties can be incorporated into your garden or greenhouse. Created by the Northwest Orchid Society, it was a mega-volcano enveloped in a boggling amount of orchids.
Here, for example, is Epi fragrans. I know nothing about orchids but appreciated the variety.
Clowesia x mormodes
Aannndd...here's the volcano. Not that practical for the home-gardener. Still, a bit of fantasy goes a long way. It was also one of the few display gardens that you could actually walk through, a very helpful way to see a garden rather than from afar.
My colleague calls these the "sleeping bag orchids"...can you see the little woodland critters tucked in their best North Face down sleeping bags?
This is "From Sea to Shining Sea, Nantucket, Massachusetts", created by Susan Browne Landscape Design. This is a counterpoint to Coupeville, Washington, which has a similar coastal feel. There is a patriotic red, white and blue theme here. I don't know how this relates to the theme of National Parks...maybe I'm missing something.
Here's the Coupeville version "From Sea to Shining Sea - Coupeville, Washington" with a more pastel color theme. This is created by Fancy Plants Gardens, Inc.
Coupeville is the second oldest town in its state. Described as "colorful and quirky", it represents real places in the town such as the Blue Goose Inn B&B, which is depicted in the building. While the ideas are sweet, I really am at a loss for what the take-away is. They say the plantings are low-maintenance, but lawn never is. It's cute and pretty but not to my taste. Again, not sure about the National Parks theme. I think something was missed here.
This is the back area of the "A World Away on the Na Pali Coast", a garden representing Kauai's Na Pali coast. This deck, called a "live edge" deck really stole my heart. This was an idea worth replicating. A simple gesture flawlessly executed that has a striking impact. This is made of sustainable cedar.
My colleagues and I loved this idea. Bravo, Plantswoman Design, Inc.
This is "Edible Neighborhood - A Food System on Every Block" created by Cascadia Edible Landscapes. First off, those pots are cool. The idea was that gardens provide a catalyst for community connectivity - back when people used to share plants and seedlings, that is before plants were as commercially available as they are today - and hoped to evoke the same sense of community and shared gardens. In urban areas this is increasingly more crucial to ensure the well-being of city dwellers through fresh food and living things.
Chickens! Urban chickens are all the rage, although I wonder how much fun Ms Hen was having.
Raised beds and veggies. Very practical and attractive, but I have to say, I don't know what this has to do with the theme of National Parks. Nice for urban dwellers, however. Having lived in Portland for many years, I will say this is a very common scene to my eyes.
This is "Park it in Your Own Backyard" by Dakara Landscape Design. Well, I guess if you can't live in a National Park you can feel like you are if you have a camper. I'm a bit confused, but that's nothing new.
The take-away ideas are "a rich variety of plant material grown here in the Pacific Northwest"....okay - it's lovely but nothing really new here.
Last year, I visited this show (that post can be revisited here) and was not that impressed. The theme of Valentine's Day was too sappy, the gardens underwhelming (mostly, there were some good ones) and the marketplace was baffling. Very few plants and a ton of non-garden related wares to purchase. Plus, I was tired and had a headache. This year visiting headache-free and with my jolly colleagues was much more fun - and the gardens were more -- how shall I say it -- applicable. I did see, however, the same overwhelming use of spring bulbs and common plant materials for good or for bad. I suppose that's not such a bad thing if they are used in inventive ways that have valid take-away ideas, but many of these gardens were splashes of 48 different colors, pavers and rocks expertly placed and patio lighting of some new sort or another. In other words, nothing new. I say the ones that really grabbed my attention and did give me garden ideas (which is the point of all of this, right?) were clear of vision and had a limited palette of colors and kinds of plant material. There was a focus.
We didn't get to the antiques marketplace and while I love antiques, I see no reason to pair them up with gardens. There is too much to see anyhow, don't tempt me with more overwhelming shopping. There were also many guest lecturers and workshops of which I attended none. I hear, though, that they were very well-attended....a very good sign. It's not that I didn't want to hear and see certain speakers, on the contrary. We just had limited time. We did get to visit three prominent Seattle-area nurseries the next day, I will be highlighting those in future blog posts.
There it is, the good, bad and ugly for you to distill as you wish. Hopefully, there are some take-away ideas for you to use somewhere in the library of photographs here, for that is as I said earlier, the point of all of this.
That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens (whew!) -- until next time thank you for reading and happy gardening!