Sunday, January 29, 2012

Almost showtime!

Just a few days remain until the biggest event in Pacific Northwest gardening takes place at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center here in Seattle.

I'm getting sick and tired of this show NOT GETTING ENOUGH ATTENTION no matter how hard the staff work to promote it! I speak from a perspective of someone who's been both a spectator and an exhibitor behind the scenes and as an active member of the gardening community here, I really wish this show could be like the OSCARS of Northwest Horticulture. The glitz, the glamor, the paparazzi, the celebrities and everyone in Seattle knowing that this show is taking place and they have to see it and experience it no matter what! Yes, there are complaints about crowds (come during the morning or later in the evening), parking (get dropped off and picked up or take the bus), but there's so much to see and experience.

A display garden at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show

HRH Queen Elizabeth II at Chelsea
Queen Elizabeth II greeting garden designers

 Perhaps I'm venting a bit as I finally had the opportunity to visit the Chelsea Flower Show last spring (see blog post here) and my article comparing it to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show that just came out in Pacific Horticulture Magazine. There are many similarities and each show definitely has its own strengths and weaknesses, but it's the press and publicity about Chelsea that just blows me away. Big names like Ringo Starr, Helen Miren, Gweneth Paltrow, and Vanessa Redgrave made appearances and, each year, the friggin' QUEEN OF ENGLAND comes to take in the displays, the scents and all the wonderful pleasures of seeing the show before it's open to the public.

Celebrity with Rose 1
Vanessa Redgrave
I'm sure there's a lot of issues why our show can't garner the big names: security, liability, "over the top" demands and I guess our famous people just aren't all that interested in plants, but one never knows! Part of me feels like they're just not being invited nor encouraged to attend the preview gala. Yes, celebrities have tight schedules and are exceedingly picky about how they're portrayed and where they can and can't be seen, but it's PLANTS AND FLOWERS, of course you're gonna look damn good amongst beautiful things. Also, having celebrities come in an instant draw for people. Some could care less about plants, but if they knew that Bill Gates or Kenny G would make an appearance or performance, heck, why not go with a chance to see a "big name"!

In all honesty, part of this rant is stemming from a personal struggling I've been dealing with for quite some time. I often feel like I'm emersed in an industry that stuck in the dark ages and trying to venture out is frowned upon. While I feel very strongly about maintaining traditions and the common ways we nurture our plants and gardens, making it accessible and readily available to anyone has been the ongoing challenge.

What it has turned into are "trend-setting attempts at marketing crap" that are suppose to make gardening "easier" for people. Yes, it's a luxury to garden, to have a garden, but it takes work no matter what! Those getting into gardening need to be educated, inspired and motivated to  put in the work to grow plants or else they shouldn't be reluctant to hire proper help if they want a garden, plants and flowers in their life. Essentially what I'm trying to say is: gardeners and those working in the horticultural industry don't get enough credit where it's truly due!

I like to think that the Northwest Flower and Garden Show is a place where we in the gardening community can truly take centerstage and shine. It's our chance to show off our ingenuity, our skills and deep knowledge and set us up for new jobs, new ideas, and new opportunities in the coming gardening season. All of us need to continue to believe that our industry has a bright future ahead and we need to stop whining about the economy and scrambling to find where all the trends are going. Yes, we're all broke and losing money, so then keep your objectives simple. It's really a matter of re-instilling the value of nurturing the earth and the satisfaction one feels for growing a plant in a landscape. There are different paths and directions towards those values, but that's what makes our field so exciting and unique; not everyone is going to be doing the same thing the same way. Instill in them the sciences of how plants grow and develop and let the art-form evolve by responsibly bringing it all together in a garden.

Some people will be in awe and many will say, "it's just like every other year...bleh". IT DOESN'T MATTER, IT'S THERE AND DESERVES TO BE THERE!

I just wish everyone knew how much work goes into putting in a display garden at the Flower and Garden Show. It takes a incredible leader with a bold and clear vision and a team to plan, design, grow, transport, arrange, install, maintain, and finally dismantle. All in an effort to say, "We love what we do and we'd like to share it with everyone in the hopes that you'll support us and our community."

I'm slowly visualizing my presentation in my head and I'm praying that it's well attended. It think it's going to be pretty awesome. Yes, my topic is very....plain and traditional, but this is a 29 year old talking about it! There's bound to be something obviously different about it and, perhaps, exciting.  =)

So there is a preview party that's put on by the Arboretum Foundation. I can't promise any celebrities such as Bill Gates, Dave Matthews, Amanda Knox,  or any of these other celebrity Seattleites! but you should check it out.




  1. Its great to hear your passion Riz!. I so know how you feel.See you at the show. Claire

    1. Thanks for reading, Claire! Hope all is well with you! I took a friend to the SSCC Arboretum yesterday when we went to visit the Chinese Garden. OMG, the Chimonanthus praecox v. luteus in Song Mei Pavilion that has a scent to just die for!

  2. Riz, Courtney had a very keen observation on how she was treated by a person at an booth at the Tacoma show (a hort industry association). I am going to have her post on our blog...interesting how there is a generation that seems to disconnect the encouragement of young gardeners. You and Courtney need to collaborate...tandem talk in the making?!? Nice post!

    1. Hmmm...interesting. I'll look out for that blog post. See you both at the show, I hope!

  3. Hi Riz,

    I stumbled upon this post and appreciate your energy for horticulture and garden design. You've also reminded me why our national garden show in Toronto, Canada Blooms, will never attain the status of flower shows of Chelsea, Seattle and Philadelphia anytime soon. Good luck at your show!

    1. It may never attain the status of our shows, but what's important is the impact it creates for your community. Big or small, it's about people coming together to share what they love to do and learning about the many different ways of doing it. I'm sure your show has some lovely moments that are exclusive to you!