It’s showtime

  • By Sarah Jackson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

If you are tired of this pathetic winter, if you’ve had enough of curling up with garden books, seed catalogs, magazines and your low-grade seasonal affective disorder, if you can’t stand another day of getting up in the bleeding dark, don’t worry.

Help for you, gardeners, is on the way.

The Northwest Flower &Garden Show

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Feb. 11, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 12.

Where: Washington State Convention &Trade Center, 800 Convention Place, Seventh Avenue and Pike Street, Seattle. See or call 206-694-5000 for directions.

Cost: Tickets are $16 in advance or $19 at the door; $11 for a half-day ticket (sold at the door after 3 p.m. each day and after 2 p.m. on Sunday); $15 for groups of 20 or more; $8 for students age 25 and younger; and $3 for ages 6-17. Children 5 and younger can attend for free. Attend every day with a $65 all-show pass or take advantage of new ticket options: a $28 two-day pass and a premium ticket for $48, which gives you exclusive viewing of the display gardens from 8 to 9 a.m. for one day as well as valet parking and a special tote. Only 1,000 premium tickets will be sold.

Save money: Buy tickets in advance online at or at local businesses to save $3 per ticket. Area outlets include Pacific Stone Co. in Everett, Emery’s Garden and Wight’s Home &Garden in Lynnwood, Flower World in Snohomish, Sunnyside Nursery and Marysville Floral in Marysville, and The Greenhouse Florist &Nursery in Oak Harbor.

Parking: There is well-marked pay parking near the convention center. If you’re going to the show Saturday or Sunday, however, you can avoid the busiest crowds and hectic parking garages by taking a flower show shuttle from the Northgate Transit Center (First Avenue NE and NE 103rd Street). It costs $1 each way.

Information: See or call the show hot line at 206-789-5333.

The 18th annual Northwest Flower &Garden Show in Seattle will salve your rain-drenched, sun-deprived soul.

Opening Wednesday for a five-day run, the 8-acre flower show is expected to draw more than 70,000 people for – dare we say – the Super Bowl of the horticultural world as we know it.

Yes, like any Super Bowl, it’s a bit crowded, especially on the weekend days of the show.

But thanks to leading landscape designers, expert plant people and celebrity gardening speakers from near and far, you can touch spring in February.

Roses, tulips, daffodils, perennials, mosses, ferns, blooming trees, colorful shrubs and even palms will dazzle you as you wander through more than 350 juried exhibits, booths and sale areas and, most important, 24 display gardens, featuring art, statuary, stonework, furniture, arbors and thousands of live plants.

That’s right.

No fake plants are allowed.

“Using real plants, and forcing blooms when necessary, is the key to bringing the magic of spring indoors in the dead of winter,” said longtime show spokeswoman Laura Vanderpool. “Also, garden creators are asked to use only plant combinations that would occur in nature. That is, you can’t mix climate zones and put a bunch of cacti next to a rhododendron just for effect.”

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Snohomish County designers and exhibitors will make a strong showing this year with six businesses leading the building or designing of display gardens and more than 20 exhibitors at the show’s marketplace and plant sale.

Building a spectacular garden in an unnatural setting, all in a few days, is quite a challenge, especially if you’ve never done it.

But Jessi Bloom, an up-and-coming landscaper who owns NorthWest Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes of Mill Creek, accepted the offer to create a show garden.

Bloom – named one of the 40 top landscape designers in the May/June 2005 issue of Northwest Home and Garden magazine – has done projects from Renton to Arlington since her start in 2000.

She will make her show debut this year with “Circle of Life,” an ecological garden featuring native plants as well as sprays of colorful blooming bulbs.

Mountain hemlock, salal, red-twig dogwood, an arbor made of reclaimed barn timbers, a nurse log, and an ancient and giant stump of cedar driftwood will add drama to her garden along with three symbolic pathways.

Some of the plants, such as hostas, will be forced into a springlike state in greenhouses at Lake Washington Technical College, where Bloom was once a student and a flower show helper. Other plants will show off their natural winter interest, including a large vine maple.

“It’s gorgeous,” Bloom said of the Northwest maple. “It’s full and round.”

Andrew Levandosky, owner of DreamScapes of Lynnwood, will also make his show debut in the display gardens with “The Celestial Dreamscape,” showcasing special hardscaping techniques as well as Asian accents, including a bamboo forest and a water feature.

Levandosky, who founded his own business two years ago after about 10 years in the industry, can’t wait to be a part of the action.

“The best landscape talent in the Northwest is going to be there,” he said. “There is going to be so much creative energy flowing and being a part of that is exciting.”

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Pacific Stone Co. of Everett – a longtime exhibitor at the show under the ownership of Timothy Gray and Lloyd Glasscock – will present their fifth show garden this year, and it promises to be one of a kind.

“You’re Cordially Invited” will feature marriage vignettes that change daily leading up to and including a real-life wedding for their friends, Marty Bower and Sheryl Bridgeford of Edmonds. Bower and Bridgeford, who met on a gardening project and who were engaged at the show last year, will get married in the display garden at 4 p.m. Feb. 11 for anyone there to see.

While the physical structure of the garden will stay the same throughout the show, decorations will change to reflect wedding themes. There will be a bridal shower on the first day, a bachelor party on the second, a rehearsal dinner on the third, an actual wedding on the fourth and honeymoon suite decor on the fifth.

“It’s kind of like a romantic garden love story,” Gray said. “It’s really going to be a neat and unusual experience.”

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Gold Bar-based Fancy Fronds owner Judith Jones, who has participated in the garden show since it started in 1989, will be back with a display garden this year that will include special attractions for kids.

“Wildwood Folly: Flights of Fancy” – created with Jones’ longtime co-designer Vanca Lumsden – will include a giant, glowing snail sculpture (Merle the Mollusk) along with funky glass mushroom figurines, and a moss and fern-covered gazebo.

Luna the Moth, played by Jones’ daughter, Daphne, will ride Merle the Mollusk in the form of a “mermaid, a prehistoric fernstone and a fairy.”

But that’s not all.

“There will be riddle hand-outs for the kids with the answers appearing on round river rocks throughout the garden,” Jones said. “Mother Nature and the other characters will be on hand to talk with showgoers.”

Brent Bissell and his company, B. Bissell General Contractors of Snohomish, will team up with Karen Stefonick of Le Jardin Home of Seattle, to create “Dining Out: No Rules Just Right!” featuring a mix of styles from Napa Valley vineyard to Zen perfection to create a perfectly eclectic dining setting.

Lighting in the garden, designed by Yard Moods of Monroe, is sure to wow visitors, Bissell said.

“It is a realistic representation of materials that you can use in your yard,” he said, adding that more than 25 types of plants will enjoy the glow of more than 90 light fixtures in 900 square feet of garden.

Finally, Tami Ott-Ostberg of Garden Dreams Design – who recently moved her design business from Seattle to Mountlake Terrace – will design her second garden ever for the show.

“Small Space Style” will appeal to people who want grand gardens in some not-so-grande square footage.

“You can have everything a big garden has, such as furniture, art, any type of water feature, great plants and more,” Ott-Ostberg said. “It’s just like all gardens: It’s just really how you put it together.”

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More than ever, show creators are trying to reinvent the extravaganza to embody a certain festival feeling with events for kids, live music, poetry and other attractions.

“It’s not just for hort heads to go and get groovy new plants and find out what they’re going to do in their garden this year,” Vanderpool said. “This is just eye candy all over the place and a place to just go day dream and see neat stuff. It’s like an art gallery, but it’s very vibrant and theatrical and that’s the point. It’s entertainment. There’s live music. It’s not a home show.”

Reporter Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037 or

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