Maybe it’s a fresh color range for a plant or a new disease-resistant breed that catches his eye.
For Steve Smith, owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, it could also be a new dwarf form that shrinks the original plant by a few feet.
These are only some of the reasons why Smith’s garden is constantly changing.
“I’m a sucker for anything new,” said Smith, who writes The Whistling Gardener column for The Daily Herald. “There’s always room for one more plant. That’s my motto.”
Keynote speaker Smith will talk about new plants, shrubs and trees on the market and some of his favorite tools for maintaining gardens on Saturday and Sunday at this year’s Everett Home & Garden Show, which kicked off Friday at the Angel of the Winds Arena.
His presentation today at 2 p.m. will include pictures and provide an overview on how to make the most of each new addition to the garden.
Other speakers include Snohomish County master gardeners on topics such as fruit trees, growing vegetables in containers, plant selection and fertilizer tips. The show also features more than 100 vendors that specialize in interior decor, appliances, backyard sheds and other home improvement essentials.
If you’ve attended the show before, Smith will be a familiar face. He speaks every other year on all things gardening, relying on a lifetime of experience that began at the age of 14 when he started working for a nursery near his hometown of Coronado, California.
Smith, 70, who has owned Sunnyside Nursery for the past 31 years, is tapped into the latest breeds on the market. He enjoys finding space for new plants he’s come across and doesn’t hold back on removing plants that peter out, aren’t performing up to his standards or have become an eyesore.
He compares his enjoyment to how a child might feel when adding and removing posters from their bedroom.
“Everybody should have room to poke in a few new things every year,” Smith said. “It’s like exterior decoration.”
Many of the new plants he’ll talk about were bred in Europe and then grown in various regions of the United States, while some were bred in this region. All of them should be easy to cultivate in the Pacific Northwest’s climate, he said.
“They’re not necessarily collector plants, but new varieties that most any gardener will enjoy in their yard without having a degree in horticulture,” Smith said.
One of his favorite new plants is a begonia named “Canary Wing,” which was bred and grown in Ohio by Groovy Plants. The summer bloomer, introduced in July, has dark-red flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees, as well as bright foliage that changes from yellow to chartreuse.
He’ll also share details about an unusual edible plant: “Dancing With Smurfs,” grown by Valleybrook Nursery in British Columbia. It’s a cherry-sized tomato that ripens to an indigo blue in sunlight with blue-green stems and foliage.
Smith’s talk at noon Sunday will cover his favorite tools, some of which are new or unconventional. Among his go-to tools is a linoleum knife. It’s meant for cutting linoleum, wood panels or veneer, but he finds it helpful in the garden.
“I picked it up years ago when I was a landscaper,” Smith said. “It’s got a good handle and design where you can pull it through a hunk of sod.”
He even uses a cordless DeWalt reciprocating saw for cutting plants that need to be transported or placed in a container.
But his favorite tool? That’s easy. The Flexrake hula hoe, a garden weeder and cultivator.
“I simply can’t garden without it,” Smith said.
Speaker Laura Cooper, a master gardener from Arlington, will give tips on growing fruit trees in your back yard. Her specialties include apples, pears and plums. She said growing your own fruit trees isn’t hard as you might think.
“Once you’ve tasted your own apple from your own fruit trees, you’re not likely to go get them from the grocery,” Cooper said. “They require commitment. You prune them, fertilize them and harvest. There’s lots of things to think about, and that’s what I’ll be talking about.”
The theme for this year’s Everett Home & Garden Show is “Welcome to Our Innovative Backyard Party.” There are two featured landscape displays by Everett businesses that follow that theme. One is by Terra Firma Hardscapes and the other is by Whispering Pines Custom Landscapes.
New exhibitors include Enumclaw’s Mod Bilt, which builds sheds that can be moved around the back yard at will, and Vashon Island artist Bob Cox of Apple Cox Design, who makes quirky illustrations of gardens.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
The Everett Home & Garden Show continues 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Angel of the Winds Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett. Wine and beer tastings are 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $7 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and $2 for military families with identification. Children 16 and younger get in free. Find a $2-off coupon online at www.everetthomegardenshow.com.
The Everett Home & Garden speakers schedule
11 a.m.: “The Viability of Solar Energy in Washington State” — Blake Burrill
Noon: “15 Questions to Ask Your Contractor” — Ward Hampson
1 p.m.: “Fruit Trees for the Home Gardener” — Laura Cooper
2 p.m.: “What’s New for 2019” — Steve Smith
3 p.m.: “Growing Vegetables in Containers” — Martha Clatterbaugh
11 a.m.: “Garden Success with Appropriate Plant Selection” — Jerelyn Resnick
Noon: “Inside the tool shed of The Whistling Gardener” — Steve Smith
1 p.m.: “Fertilizer, Know Your NPKs (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium)” — Sheila McKinnon