Gardening with Jennifer: The 2011 Northwest Flower & Garden Show: Once Upon A Time...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show runs through this weekend, February 26-27 at the Washington State Convention Center  

By Jennifer Rotermund
Photos by Loren Alexanian

I’ve always been an avid reader. In fact, I tend to prefer a good book to television any day of the week - with the exception of Masterpiece Theatre, of course (for which I’m endlessly teased by my friends). 

I was about 8 years old the first time I read the novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, And What Alice Found There. Spellbound by the imagery, I found myself fantasizing about a Rabbit hole large enough to fall into, contemplating Toadstools with talking Caterpillars sitting on top and wondering what the feared Jabberwock actually looked like - no wonder I became a wildlife gardener! 

Of course, Alice’s adventures represent a coming of age story, as she finds herself facing very grown-up dilemmas and having to make carefully thought-out choices. So we all find ourselves in life. Eventually we grow up and face a life of adult responsibilities and choices. 

Which is why I make it a point to continuously cultivate care-free wonder and innocent joy in my everyday experiences - if for no other reason than to maintain some connection to that child-like state of mind.

This year’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show - which runs through this weekend at the Washington State Convention Center in Downtown Seattle - is the perfect blend of magical whimsey and awe-inspiring displays to transport me back to time when I was small, but my imagination loomed as large as the world around me. 

The theme of this year’s show is, “Once Upon A Time...” and features everything from outdoor re-creations of cherished fairy tales to whimsical cottage gardens and displays of plant collections from far off lands

Adjacent to the Alice in Wonderland display, with its infamous bottle of elixir labeled “Drink Me,” you’re struck by sharply contrasted extremes of large and small small scale with an ancient Bonsai collection of Conifers just steps away from a towering 127-year-old Weeping Lace Leaf Maple. 

If you like your magical garden space grounded in something other fairy tales, you’ll be transformed in the presence of the garden designed for shamanic ceremonies and soothed by the walkway transporting you through a tranquil night-time garden.

But I won’t give it all away; you have to go see it for yourself. 

Aside from the large display gardens, there are also large sections of seemingly endless rows of vendor booths making everything available to you from the plants you’ve seen in the show to beautiful garden art and some of the best deals on garden tools you’ll find anywhere around. 

Food, beverages and seating areas are not in short supply, and a nonstop schedule of knowledgeable speakers easily turns the show into an all-day event. As an added bonus (at least in my book it is), this year’s winter storm - which appears to have hit everywhere except downtown Seattle - has kept the usual standing-room only crowds at the show to a minimum. 

Although February is a short month, our dreary northwest winter weather can make it feel longer than it actually is. I can’t think of a more perfect way to remind us all that Spring is just around the corner than by attending our annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show. 


You’re greeted at each entrance with pungent Spring Hyacinths in full bloom, enlivened by the gorgeous display gardens, and leave re-inspired, looking forward to warmer temperatures and the growing season that will all too soon be upon us. 

If you can make it in from your snowy neighborhood, I encourage you to go. It’ll be worth the trek.


Jennifer Rotermund is the owner of Gaiaceous Gardens (an urban farming and wildlife gardening business with a teaching garden/urban farm and certified wildlife habitat located in Shoreline) and is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Habitat Steward.


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