The best thing about the Northwest Flower & Garden Show is what's not there: homes. I've been to other "Home and Garden" shows that are 90% home and 10% garden. Gardens are merely an afterthought there. But here, gardens take center stage and homes are the afterthought. That's the way it should be.
The Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica) in this picture signifies that tree ferns don't particularly relish bonsai life. I'm sure it would be much happier in the ground, with protection from the occasional major frost we get around here.
Did you know that primroses are edible?
Here's an economical idea for a "vertical garden" - an old pallet board. How cool would it be to have a fence made out of these. There is sort of an ugliness factor to it though.
I also just wanted to mention that I stopped by the Northwest Horticultural Society's booth to purchase tickets for "Plant Nerd Night" in April, only to be dismayed when I saw that they were all sold out. After refusing to accept "All sold out" for an answer, the lady there said I could volunteer, in which case I could get in for free! Sounds like a plan!
To wrap things up, I'll end with the seminars - the best part about the show in my opinion.
I summarized the first seven seminars two posts back, and here I will summarize the remaining five:
"Organic Gardening for Everyone" by Charlie Nardozzi. Charlie started out by discussing the clever tactics the food industry uses to trick us into thinking we're buying something completely organic even though we might not be. Buying something that says "Organic" isn't the same thing as buying something that says "100% organic". According to the USDA, a product can contain only 95% organic ingredients and still call itself organic(!). "Made with Organic Ingredients" is even worse. It only has to contain at least 70% organic ingredients. "Natural" is pretty much meaningless. He noted the resurgence of urban homesteaders in recent years and went on to discuss ways to grow vegetables organically. One tip that I had never heard before: placing red plastic under tomatoes has been shown to increase the yield by 20% or more. He said that celery contains the highest concentration of pesticides out of any store-bought vegetable, so grow your own celery.
"E.G.G.S. - Eat. Grow. Gather. Share." by Graham Kerr. The Galloping Gourmet was before my time, but Graham Kerr's charisma and enthusiasm for gardening at age 78 is enough to make me a fan. He has always been a world-class chef, but up until four years ago, all the ingredients he used were from other people's gardens. Now he is gardening full-time and starting clubs around the country where neighbors share vegetables with each other.
"Growing A Greener World" by Joe Lamp'l. I had never heard of Joe Lamp'l before, but he seems to be very in tune with what gardeners are up to around the Northwest. He talked about things people are doing to conserve the environment through gardening. He was particularly fond of us recycling food scraps and yard waste into Cedar Grove Compost. At one point they showed him diving into a fresh pile of the stuff.
"Bring it On!" by Ciscoe Morris. Ciscoe talked about plants that are easy to grow and won't succumb to our harshest winter. A couple plants that stood out to me included Daphne houtteana, a daphne with purplish-black leaves, Astrantia major 'Hadspen Blood', which is rumored to repel slugs and snails from the area, and Dactylorhiza x grandis, a hardy orchid with purple flowers.
"Creating Drama & Mystery in the Garden" by Nicholas Staddon. Nicholas is the Director of New Plant Introductions for Monrovia. That sounds like a pretty cool job title to me. Most of the "new" plants he talked about I was already familiar with, however there were a few that I was not aware of. Hosta 'Empress Wu' is perhaps the largest hosta - with its leaves growing to 6' tall! How cool! And its hardy to zone 3! He also discussed a new, purple-leaved hydrangea that Monrovia will be rolling out next year.
So there you have it. My take on the 2012 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. If you live in the Northwest, maybe I'll see you at next year's show. If you don't live in the Northwest, be sure to visit your local garden show and support the horticultural community in your area!