I am having a great time at the Show and I hope that you are as well. I’ve met new people, seen old friends, asked and listened to the many comments about the possible show closing. I met a couple (one of many from what they tell me) who travel from Alaska every year for the Show. I had a lady tell me in the elevator that the “show closing” is a publicity stunt. I very politely told her that I know first-hand that it is not a stunt, but I don’t think she believed me. I hope other people don’t also feel that way.
Ciscoe Morris, a happy go lucky fellow, gave me a huge hug and told me he was really “bummed” to hear of the show closing. Joe Lamp’l (Gardener) said he was stunned about it. Several vendors told me the same.
On a good front, as I mentioned yesterday, the Sky’s the Limit show garden designed by Rebecca Cole and sponsored by Smith & Hawken won a TON of prizes and in my opinion, was well-deserving of the honor. They won:
- Founder’s Cup
- First in Resident Garden Design
- Sunset Western Living Award
Their display contained wonderful design and elements. The living walls were beautiful and they took it even further by making living tables, roof and walking areas. I particularly wanted to show you the table and benches. Not only are they living (with areas between the plants to eat), but they made them a storage spot for logs underneath. The flat board on top of the benches lift up for easy access.
I think that this is an example of a great way to use the space around you and use it well. Using what you have instead of getting more space is smart and good our environment.
More on interesting benches tomorrow!
And what a strange word, do you agree with me? Say “mulch” fast ten times-I could only do it four before laughing. It just doesn’t sound right after the first few.
Mulch is simply a 3-8 inch covering over your plants. And yet something that simple can be hugely beneficial to both you and your plants. It keeps the soil warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, retains moisture-reducing need for water, almost eliminates weeds and can protect from soil erosion.
If you use organic types of mulch, your plants will love you more. They will use those nutrients to strengthen and grow bigger and better. Our earth benefits as well.
In our area, you should wait to mulch until the soil has warmed a little and the moisture is mostly out (I know, hard in the Northwest) but I usually get the best results mulching in late March or April, after a couple days of sunny skies.
According to Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening Herbs, here are some organic mulches to consider:
- Straw-Need about 6-8 inches worth and don’t touch the plants with it. Note: keep an eye on nitrogen levels if using straw and don’t use it for veggies.
- Leaves– Best chopped up. Need 2-5 inches.
- Pine Needles– Recommend 2-4 inches but don’t use them around non-acid-loving plants.
- Bark Chips (Shredded) – Need a 2-4 inch layer but can tie up nitrogen so don’t use for veggies.
- Grass Clippings– Why not? Beats driving it to a dump place. Use 1-4 inches around plantings and make sure clippings do not have herbicides applied. Use caution with tender seedlings.
- Compost– 1 or more inches around plants.
Ready? Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch… (Did I trip you up?)
The crowds are winding down. People are tired, but still smiling. The exhibitors are trying to sell more merchandise so they don’t have to pack it up and those on their feet for all five days are finally sitting-for a moment. In many aspects, it was a great show and I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did!
You may not have known it but the NW Flower & Garden Show is celebrating a milestone this year. They are 20 years old! Wow! And as you know, the show continues to increase in popularity and professionalism. It has come so far since Duane and Alice Kelly took a second mortgage out on their home to finance the very first one. They were rewarded with 51,000 gardeners attending-even though it snowed. The two were so successful in their effort, they were later asked to take over the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Now both shows are hugely popular, and the NW show is third in size of all of the flower shows-second only to Boston and Philadelphia.
You and I, of course, reap the benefits.
Of course, it would not have been possible without the support of many-especially their team of nine people all year round (plus 2 in San Francisco), support staff and hundreds of seasonal workers that work at show-time. The Kelly’s are adamant about the importance of not only their team, but helpers, attendees, exhibitors and seminar leaders-and say that they could not have accomplished it alone. Duane thinks 20 candles are in order-I say a whole lot more than that is. What they have accomplished is nothing short of incredible, and I hope that you will join me in a huge round of applause for these people that work so hard, all year, every year to bring the BEST to the Northwest. Thank you, Duane and Alice, Salmon Bay staff and support staff. Your tireless efforts show in the thriving results of the show as you continue to grow every year.
(Not pictured: David Cardell with Salmon Bay and Jason Cruz with Launch Communications. Plus numerous seasonal staff and other helpers.)
Did you see the chickens? They were on display, not so discreetly tucked into a couple of show gardens. Popular speaker, co-author of “Intimate Gardens” and garden designer, Lucy Hardiman, reports that Portland was the first city to implement a chicken coop tour. Of all the interesting things to make part of a garden-the chickens have got to win an award.
Here’s what I learned:
- Your goal should be to implement an area with well-populated spaces, comfortable exposure and great plants.
- A garden should compliment our homes, spaces and most of all, spirits.
- Our gardens tell one or more stories.
- When designing a garden, your starting point is always the house itself. A house gives the major clues on what to do with a space. A generic house gives more ability to use various garden styles.
- Fireplaces can be overbuilt within a garden. Simple is best.
- Containers act as an invitation into particular areas and their placement is important.
- The use of screening, even if see-through, stops the eye and invites a pause.
- The use of red is unusual in small gardens as it actually shortens the distance for the eye.
- Back and front gardens can be different but should have a relationship with each other.
- Use elevation to your advantage in a way that makes sense.
- Ground plain is an ” under-story”. Design also has a “canopy”, which are the items above the ground level.
- Consider adding spirituality to your garden, and consider unusual ones such as a labyrinth.
- Vegetables are finally coming back within designed gardens (Yippee!).
Thanks to our many guest bloggers! What great posts!
If you think you aren’t skilled enough as a gardener to even attend the show, I’ve been there. Let me tell you what a blast it is:
- Seminars are geared for both beginning and advanced gardeners. Those who are learning. Those who know it all. And all in-between.
- The Show Gardens are a treat to your senses. What a great place to see designs that you want to emulate or learn about a flower you didn’t know existed.
- The company is incredible-people talking plants, grass, design and more all over the place. You can learn a lot even while standing in line for food.
- There is no better Show to attend as a beginner than one focused on the climate that you live in.
- Exhibitors and Teachers are happy to help-no matter how silly your questions might seem to you. They were there once too.
- You can learn about trends and more unusual growing methods that more seasoned gardeners might not know about, such as hydroponic growing (growing in water instead of dirt-now that is cool) and organic growing (growing without the use of chemicals-that’s more cool).
Purchasing tickets for the NW Flower & Garden Show online is easier than you think. And you don’t have to buy one for all five days. There are half-day, one-day and two-day options also available. Kids get in for cheap. And group rates are also available for a lower cost if you have at least 20 people.
If you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, do it here. They take both Visa and Mastercard. There is an additional $1.00 fee to print your ticket, and a $2.00 fee if you want it mailed to you. If you do print it, keep in mind that it won’t be the type you will want to put in your scrapbook.
And congratulations to Alan, who won the two-day pass for commenting on Bird Reality. See you at the Show!