Seattle Celebrates Early Spring - Indoors
The Northwest Flower and Garden Show - third largest in the United States - attracts 81,000 winter-weary visitors
THE Northwest Flower and Garden Show is only six years old, but it already draws the third-most visitors of any flower show in North America.Skip to next paragraph
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The five-day show here, which closed Feb. 13, drew a paid attendance of 81,000. Only Philadelphia and Boston draw a bigger crowd, but they have each been around for more than a century.
Show President Duane Kelly attributes much of the success to the quality of the exhibits.
Lyle Gerrits, a pleased visitor from Mt. Vernon, Wash., notes another reason: Residents of this temperate, rain-soaked region are thoroughly devoted to gardening. In February, when other parts of the country are still blanketed in snow, crocuses, daffodils, and tulips have already pushed their green leaves above the soil here.
Under the sheltering roof of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, however, the flowers were fully developed - many having been forced into bloom in artificially warm conditions.
``You get to look at spring before it actually gets here,'' says Mr. Gerrits, who came to the show with his mother. Among the out-of-town visitors for several years has been world-renowned garden-planner Rosemary Verey, who says she sees a kinship between the Pacific Northwest and her native England.
``You grow the same plants that I do. They're in exactly the same state as my own garden when I left 10 days ago,'' she told an audience at one of several dozen seminars given at the show by gardening experts and authors (see related story, left).
Ms. Verey, who says England may be ``the best climate for growing plants,'' is eager to see Northwest gardens in summer - something, she will be able to do for the first time this year. ``I just feel that I've got to learn all about it,'' she says.
She got a preview of sorts at the flower show, but the exhibits here were indoors under artificial light, unlike London's famous Chelsea show, much of which is in the open air.
``Water, Water Everywhere,'' was the appropriate theme of this year's show. The weather obliged by pelting the Seattle area with rain during part of the time.
The many pools and fountains throughout the show added a splash of credibility to the water theme and used 25,000 gallons of water.
The water focus invited an Oriental influence in many of the exhibits, including ``way more rocks'' and bamboo than in previous years, says Mary Booth, the show's garden-design coordinator. One of several stunning examples among the 34 exhibits was by Iseli Nursery of Boring, Ore., whose Japanese maple and Japanese black pine trees helped it win the Arboretum Foundation Award for best use of woody plants.
Top prize, however, went to a garden with neither water nor a Far East feel: The show's three judges presented the Founder's Cup to Christianson's Nursery for ``Enchanted April,'' which was centered around a rustic gazebo with a picnic laid out on the grass beneath. A fishing pole and an old-fashioned water pump on the periphery hinted at the aquatic theme.