Northwest Flower and Garden Show coming to Seattle

In February, gardeners’ thoughts turn to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, the third-largest in America. This year it will be held Feb. 14-18 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. It is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., except Sunday, when it closes at 6 p.m. The scent of spring will arouse your senses as you enter the display area, where 25 gardens will compete for honors.

The gardens will compete using the theme “The ‘Living’ Room,” and boast hedges, arbors, sundials, patios, waterfalls, pools, fences, huge flowering trees and even greenhouses. They have been in the planning stages for the past nine months and the garden creators have just three-and-a-half days to put the displays together. They will move tons of compost, gravel, about 150 dump trucks full of sawdust and mulch and more than 280,000 pounds of rock into the convention center, and place hundreds of thousands of blooming plants for your enjoyment. More than 300 theatrical lights bring light and shadow to the displays.

The competition is fierce. Internationally known garden experts will award the ribbons. Judging was adopted from the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain. Each garden creator submits a written description of his or her display, and the garden is judged by how close the display comes to that description.

In addition to the wonderful exhibits, there will be 110 free seminars led by international, national and Northwest gardening gurus. There will be topics covering everything from how to plant to garden design; propagation to composting. You will be sure to find lots of lectures for your particular interests. There will even be a children’s area — “Spoutopia” — with hands-on lectures, and KinderCare will provide two hours of free daycare by reservation once you get to the show.

This year Alexandra Stoddard, author of 24 best-selling books on contemporary living and design; Pamela Schwerdt and Sibylle Kreutzberger, who were for 30 years co-head gardeners at Sissinghurst Castle; and Maureen Gilmer, well known host of “Weekend Gardening” on the DIY Network will be the headline speakers. Richard Hartlage, Melinda Meyers, Kathy Brenzel and Michael Glassman will also speak on creating outdoor living spaces. And don’t miss our own Dan Hinkley, Ciscoe Morris, Val Easton, Mary Robson, Dave Egbert, Ed Hume, Arthur Krukeberg and others.

Started as an exhibit a few years ago, there will again be a large display of container gardens. And don’t miss the vendor’s area! If it is related to plants, gardens or design, it’s there.

The flower show was inspired by displays in other parts of the country and introduced by Alice and Duane Kelly. They opened the first Northwest show in 1989 and are still planning and putting on the show. The NWFGS costs more than $1million to produce and that cost is generated by the show. The exhibitors do not pay to display their talents and are given a small stipend for the show.

New for this year is a one-day “Premier Ticket,” which includes one pass for up to four seminars, an autographed Sunset book (Sunset is one of the show’s major sponsors) and a canvas NWFGS canvas tote bag for $48. Tickets at the door are $3 for youth ages 6-17 and $19 for adults. Children under 6 are free. There are many other prices and packages available. Also new this year is shuttle service from the Eastgate (Bellevue) Park and Ride; other shuttles run to the show from Northgate. The cost is $3.

For additional information, go to

Linda Stephens-Urbaniak can be reached at

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