Northwest Flower & Garden Show returns Wednesday with 23 display gardens

  • By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2010 11:25am
  • Life

The Northwest Flower &Garden Show is back, under new ownership and ready to ring in an early spring.

Seattle’s longtime celebration of all things botanical was in danger of closing last year after its 21-year run, when its founder, Duane Kelly, decided to sell the event but couldn’t find a buyer.

O’Loughlin Trade Shows of Portland bought the event in June, however, and agreed to maintain the show’s sophisticated, upscale style.

This year’s show, which kicks off a five-day run Wednesday, will include 23 display gardens, celebrity speakers and educational seminars all day every day. The perennial “Sproutopia” play area for kids will be set up and, new this year, an exhibit featuring 300 live butterflies.

“Beauty and Functionality” is the theme for the event, featuring ideas for small-space gardening and eco-friendly living.

Multiple display gardens will showcase fruit and vegetable growing techniques, including “A Family’s Little Farm in the City,” a 1,200-square-foot garden by landscaper Jessi Bloom, who designed the space with her 8-year-old son, Noah Kenney, and Seattle Tilth.

Bloom, owner of N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes of Mill Creek, will merge child-friendly attributes with sustainable living concepts such as composting, rainwater harvesting and low-maintenance edible plants.

“It’s not going to be serious,” said Bloom, who has designed award-winning display gardens in two previous shows. “It’s going to be fun … fun and very, very practical.”

Bloom’s son insisted she incorporate a balance beam as well as a play tunnel, along with the garden’s live chickens, pet goats and a grass-and-clover play area.

“It’s been a learning experience, both as a mom and a designer,” Bloom said. “It’s about what will actually get kids out in the garden and using it and having their own adventures.”

Bloom also worked closely with Seattle Tilth, a nonprofit group that teaches organic gardening and sustainable living. She used mostly salvaged materials for building the structures in the garden, not just to save the planet, but also to save on costs.

Bloom’s home, on 2½ acres in Mill Creek, features many of the elements found in “A Family’s Little Farm in the City.”

“It’s not so extravagant that you need thousand and thousands of dollars,” Bloom said of gardeners who might want to copy her ideas. “There are things that are so practical that anybody can do them. Anybody. Living this way can be DIY.”

Seattle Tilth will expand on the lessons of the garden with a retail and information booth nearby with demonstrations on worm composting and edible plants in large containers.

Seattle Tilth, after selling a record 52,000 edible plant starts at its May plant sale last year, is adding an early edible plant sale this year on March 20 to meet the growing demand and to help gardeners get a headstart on spring.

Other gardens in the show will appeal to children and vegetable gardeners as well, including a fantasy garden, “Dinosaurs and Discovery,” featuring tree ferns and giant dino eggs and footprints.

“Crops for Clunkers,” by the up-and-coming Seattle Urban Farm Co., will showcase how to grow vegetables in urban spaces using miniature orchards and rooftop salad gardens.

Bloom’s garden will feature lettuces, broccoli and other cool-season crops that thrive before the heat of summer arrives, said Liza Burke, Seattle Tilth’s outreach coordinator.

“There is a lot you can plant in the spring,” Burke said. “It’s one of the great things about the Northwest. You can grow food year-round.”

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,

Attend the show

What: The Northwest Flower &Garden Show will feature 23 display gardens by local designers and landscapers, celebrity speakers, educational seminars, floral displays, retail booths and activities for kids. “Beauty and Functionality” is the theme of the event with an emphasis on eco-friendly gardening.

When: Wednesday to Feb. 7. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Feb. 7, when the show closes at 6 p.m.

Where: Washington State Convention &Trade Center in downtown Seattle.

Information: See or call 253-756-2121.

Cost: Admission is $20 at the door or $16 online or at retail stores through Tuesday; $5 for ages 13 to 17; free for ages 12 and younger.


N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes

Mill Creek

Jessi Bloom


Seattle Tilth



Seattle Urban Farm Co.


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