Monday, February 13, 2012

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2012, part one…ideas!

By now I’ve read many a post reviewing last week’s 2012 NWFG Show in Seattle, the display gardens in particular. Some loved them, some did not. A common theme to emerge however is the dislike of the theatrical garden lighting, it’s like the show organizers feel the craftsmanship of the gardens can’t hold up to the light of day. I doubt that is the case and besides we all know this is fake so what if we saw a bit of plastic pot emerging from the mulch? Walking from the display gardens into the vendor area was a liberating experience, light! Finally the light!

This shot was taken before the show opened to the public, when the lights were still turned up, after they went down you missed many of the details.
Onto the subject of the gardens themselves…if you haven’t heard this year’s theme was “A Floral Symphony,” a theme taken quite literally by some of the designers as there were musical instruments throughout several of the gardens, which felt a little contrived. And as you probably know for me a garden is all about the foliage so a theme concentrating on flowers (especially in February in the Pacific Northwest) wasn’t exactly my cup of tea anyway. However as always the planning and hard work that went into creating the gardens was obvious and I was thrilled to be there. In this post I want to share some of the inspiring ideas I left with, there were plenty.

I’d have to say this garden was my favorite. It was lush, and who wouldn’t want to set on that balcony and look out at the garden.
Surprisingly (since I’m no fan of garden art) I was drawn to the sculpture, maybe because of the movement of the shiny metal blades (danger!) as they whirled in the “wind” (in this case a fan).

The same garden featured a few metal ornaments…

This one in particular caught my eye as it was the best “keep out of the garden” note I saw.
I heard many people exclaim what a great idea this plant labeling system was.
Subtly playing to the theme of music were these rain drums which pounded out a rhythmic beat as rain drops fell on them from a framework above.

Instead of rock gabions, wine bottle gabions (of a sort)!
An inlay of metal shapes on a wooden pathway would be a nice touch in the garden.
I’m starting to see a lot of fences around town made from corrugated galvanized panels. While I am a big fan of the material I don’t think it always transfers to make an elegant fencing material. This however has potential…weaving sheets of metal flashing through wooden uprights is a great idea!
Of course laser cut metal panels would be nice too!

No doubt a real-life maintenance nightmare I do love the checkerboard.
This was a popular garden featuring veggie beds and chickens. I love the use of stock tanks integrated into a pergola and as backdrop for a long dining table. But why not flip them over so you can plant in them?
This fountain which poured onto the stone patio material was great. Of course it too could be a maintenance nightmare as the stone started to discolor, but maybe that would also be part of the charm?
This giant stump was a work of art…
And the bottom side just begged to be planted and become a vertical garden.
Oddly the gardens that I found myself most drawn to weren’t the display gardens but rather sponsor gardens and container gardens. First the tiny Alaska Airlines advertisement garden…
Of course the fact that their garden was promoting a give-away trip to Hawaii helped make plant choices special.
And the Subaru ad/garden was so much fun! There was a car in center of the display but the red barn and wild west cacti and succulent plantings stole the show for me.
The sky-bridge across Pike Street was again the location for the container gardens. In this smaller space the designers can really cut loose and create displays so detailed and intricate that you can’t help but be inspired. A crowd favorite was “The Terrarium Makers Studio” from Ravenna Gardens.
The colors were so rich!
In the next display this crooked Tree Fern had me wondering how I could get mine to start growing like this. So much more character than a straight trunk!
I’ve been a long time proponent of one plant per container; however these turquoise containers in the Molbak’s display have me thinking otherwise.
So much beauty crammed into a small space!
Here’s an excellent example of mulching a container not with gravel, or glass but a low-growing ground cover.
Of course having a striking specimen tree in a bright orange pot also helps!
This large metal swirl was heavily planted, what a great raised bed a metal piece like this would make.
Finally seemingly inspired my Megan and Matti from Far Out Flora is “Heavy Metal” designed by Terabithia Landscaping. Everything from old bbq’s to kegs to empty beer cans and bottle caps show up in this display.
Hopefully I shared a few ideas you want to steal?

31 comments:

  1. That metal swirl is amazing. Those bottlecaps-as-mulch give me a headache. And the PBR . . . just . . . no.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A headache as in a hang-over headache?

      Delete
  2. You shared more than a few ideas to steal.

    Loved the terrariums and colorful glazed planters. I'll skip the junky BBQ, but the keg makes a better than expected container.

    The idea I would most likely try to copy is the spiral metal. I have pieces left over from the roof and need to figure out how to use them.

    It all looks good, great approach to skip the negative and focus on what works and can be translated into our gardens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was surprised how good the keg looked too! And if you do come up with a spiral of sorts I hope you'll blog about it.

      Delete
  3. Yes, nice ideas -- thank you!

    (I'm not a big fan of rocks as plant tags. Not really a fan of conspicuous tags at all though.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the rocks...but wow people were taken with them. I do think if you've got to tag things I'd rather see writing on rocks than nursery labels left hanging from, or stuck in the ground next to, your plants.

      Delete
    2. Plant tags are often a distraction, but rules are rules. I thought the rocks were less obtrusive than other types of tags I've seen at the show. I'll re-post if anyone starts painting happy sun faces on them, of course.

      Delete
  4. Wow is all I can say. I really wish I could have made it out there!! All day on Sunday I was mourning the fact I wasn't at Debora lee baldwin's presentation. Feb. and floral symphony is kind of sad for foliage lovers but it looks like there was plenty inspiration to go around. What a great way to start off the spring garden season! Hope you had a blast :) and I can't wait to read more about it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should start planning for attending next years show!

      As I was leaving on Thursday evening about 5:30pm (having been there since 7:30 am) I bumped into Debra Lee Baldwin and Mary Wingate in the press room (the bloggers that attended the tweet-up that mornign got to use the press room). Anyway I was tired and a little hypoglycemic and made a fool of myself trying to tell Debra how much I enjoyed her books. I hope she just took it as a compliment.

      Delete
    2. that's amazing. Sounds like something I would do! She is seriously talented. I refer to her books as the succulent bibles!

      Delete
  5. Loree, that shiny metal sculpture is by ANTHONY HOWE on Orcas Island. I visited his sculpture garden last summer (twice!) and it is a must-see. You can search it on the web for pictures and videos of his work. It's a place you can spend hours visiting. The large tree trunk with roots was found floating off-shore in Puget Sound near Shelton and the garden designer floated it to a dock where he carted it away. What a find! - Lisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the information Lisa, an excuse to visit Orcas Island is always a good thing. I wonder how much that tree trunk weighed? Thanks for the back story!

      Delete
  6. Some superb ideas there Loree, plenty of sources for inspiration. And yes I LOVE ideas ;-) I was also drawn to the garden with metal rills quite high up from the ground and that metal sun ornament, very contemporary.

    With shows, there's often a fine line between 'showmanship' and practicality. Everything can be adapted of course. And that water feature pouring directly into the stone, I wonder how that would look like once algae starts to grow on the stone,hmmmm..

    Thanks for sharing! I love garden shows!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought the same thing about the algae (especially in our moist climate) but still I loved it. I look forward to your upcoming show report!

      Delete
  7. Wow, what wonderful photos. I love the cut out metal panels and the terariums (?spelling). So many great ideas there, unfortunaley every time I try to copy something good like that it turns into a nightmare. I'm not very good at DIY although I do insist on trying. I would never be able to afford to pay someone for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet your getting better though with every project right? Practice makes better...if not perfect.

      My dream is to have a metal panel like those as a gate to our backyard, only the cut outs would be in the shape of large Agaves with blooms!

      Delete
  8. Lots to like here...without having to sift through the chaff. Thanks for expending some shoe leather and enduring hypoglycemic moments to bring us your well-edited take on the show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure! Perhaps I'll see you this weekend at the YG&P Show?

      Delete
  9. What a great post and super show! And the succulent pots and plantings are so awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were several combinations that I wanted to take home with me, naturally they were all ones that weren't for sale.

      Delete
  10. Thank you for filtering what I'm sure was a mind-numbing onslaught of visuals and ideas. I love many of the things you showed and hate others, but that's how it always is. The standout for me was the fence section with the galvanized panels weaving through it. I'd love to have that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "love many of the things you showed and hate others, but that's how it always is"...so true, and part of why eves-dropping on others is one of my favorite parts of the show!

      Delete
  11. Wow! You actually showed me things I didn't notice, and I was there for three days! I actually avoided the Subaru display, so I think that's why I missed those gorgeous cacti. Bummed. I loved that large metal swirl too, although not necessarily all the plants that were in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Three days? You are hard-core Allison! You must have attended a few of the seminars then? I was ignoring the Subaru display too but then happened to turn around a tall cacti (euphorbia?) was in my face...that got my attention. And I agree about some of the plant choices in the swirl.

      Delete
  12. I NEED that orange pot. do you know who makes it?? Please , please , pretty please find out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly I do not, but I have a friend in the biz who was there and saw it in person, she might know...I'll ask her and let you know if I find out. I agree it's pretty amazing!

      Delete
    2. I designed the container garden with that pot last year. You can get it at http://www.terrisdraheim.com/ or I can get it for you.
      www.wendywelchgardendesign.com

      Delete
  13. Fantastic blog! Can't wait for Part 2!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You didn't mention the many 'sculptures' that were on display (including that weather-worn, horrid-looking life-guard chair). I was impressed by some of those and really liked Bob Bowling's rustic sheds...I thought those tin-roofed structures stole the show! I can just picture a smaller version of one of those in my backyard.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I loved the rustic sheds as well! Im not sure myself about the shiny windmill looking thing though, maybe it looks better in motion??

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. The amount of spam that get's through is incredible, so comment moderation is on. I'll try to approve and post your comment as soon as possible!