I've been trying to figure out all day how I could present this: I collected some notes and photographs during the press tour for the 2012 Northwest Flower and Garden Show and part of me feels the obligation to highlight all the wonderful things about it, but then another part of me goes into work mode and wants to just be overly critical. After years of attending and being a part of this show (and yes, having also visited the famous Chelsea Flower Show last May in England), I know a lot of the challenges both attendees and exhibitors face when it comes to putting together award winning gardens and displays that people will admire. After talking to friends and colleagues, both amateur gardeners and professionals in the field, I summed up some of their thoughts and my own as I walked the show floor. I won't name names, but they were observations that struck a chord somehow and this is just beginning to scratch the surface.
*IT'S A LOT OF HARD WORK that takes a team of dedicated and organized people to put exhibits like this together. Always remind yourself of that no matter how hideous and poorly built some of the gardens are, they took months of planning and just a short amount of time to put all together.
*ENOUGH white birches. Love them white stems and peeling bark, but THERE ARE OTHER TREES you can use!!!
*IT'S THE SAME PLANTS EACH YEAR. You'd think that growers know what's been done before, but they seem too reliant on the same plants each time and it's totally understandable. It's winter and the palette can be very limited, but even a friend who's a non-gardener attended last year felt that everything was very "romanticized".
*MAKE IT LOOK LIKE A MATURE LANDSCAPE! Yes, you put it together in just a few days or even under 24 hours. This is a show to inspire gardeners what they can do with their landscapes and, yes, you want to demonstrate how to plant and do things, but THIS IS A SHOW! Make it look like it's been growing that way FOR-EV-ER!!.
*EXHIBITORS TRYING TOO HARD TO BE SUSTAINABLE. They're trying to get a message across and demonstrate how to be more "green", so they display the concept and embellish it with plants and garden art to make it look good to the point where it looks gaudy and unrealistic.
*IF YOU'RE GONNA INCLUDE EDIBLES, MAKE US WANT TO EAT IT! Not something we should tear out because it's not doing anything. Yes, it's a tough time of year to even have veggies looking good, but sheesh....run down to the Pike Place Market and throw some great produce on your display garden or something!
I could go on and on; and I probably will later on, but this gets us started. For the seasoned professional, they can be pretty critical, but for the casual show attendee, it's simple something spectacular! Both, however, will acknowledge the time and effort it takes to create these displays and marvel at the fact that such a show like this exists for all of us who enjoy gardens, plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables and also bear in mind: THE SHOW ISN'T JUST ABOUT THE GARDENS and that's probably the reason why I love this show.