I was talking with Portland garden designer Lauren Hall-Behrens this morning, and we were comparing the Seattle and Portland garden shows. We both agreed that the Hardy Plant Society display of twigs, branches, leaves, flowers - anything that's happening in member's gardens at the moment, is a highlight of the Portland Yard, Garden and Patio Show.
Why don't we have something similar at our Seattle show? I'm sure it's much less work to pull together than most exhibits, and very little expense compared to all the razzle-dazzle. And it offers so much - fragrance, flower, and a connection to real, in-the-dirt gardens so sorely lacking in the make-believe of the Convention Center.
All the fresh-cut materials, hauled in from gardens and set up so we can see what's in bloom or leaf right at the moment, connects us to the real world of gardens all around us and to the people who tend them as staged gardens never can. The HPSO display grounds us in what's happening outside, where gardens are carrying on while we're inside looking at display booths and gardens which, beautiful and desirable as they may be, are 5 day constructions.
So here's an idea - Janet (as if you don't have enough to do), NHS, Seattle Garden Club...isn't there an organization who can step up and bring this sweet educational component to our Seattle show?
Garden designer Lucy Hardiman organized the first HPSO Winter Interest Educational Display in Portland in 2003 to show off all the bark, berry, fruit and flower going on in members' gardens. Here's what Lucy says about how it all came together:
"The idea was one that percolated in my brain for several years before it came to fruition. Thank you for appreciating its value. I hated the fact that the Yard, Garden and Patio show didn't have plant education component, and it didn't make sense to me that the retail show didn't showcase plants. The Oregon Association of Nurseries has partnered with us from the beginning--donating the space, tables, table coverings and banner. We have a core group of volunteers who have been involved since the beginning along with many other folks to staff the event over the 3 day period."
The display started as just cut specimens, but potted plants have been added over the years. Labels and signage have evolved over time: I loved how every plant was carefully labelled, which is so important when you're sniff-testing a dozen different kinds of witch hazel. This year alone there were between 400-500 different plants represented in the display...as Lucy says "Such a boon to gardeners."
This seems like a natural for the Seattle Garden Club, the Northwest Horticultural Society or the Arboretum Foundation to take on. We'd all appreciate the fresh air, excited interest, and keen gardeners it'd bring to the show. Think of all the j hellebores, edgeworthias, corylopsis, winter hazel...well, it's hard not to get excited just thinking about the possibilities....like this bowl of hellebore blooms....what a dazzling range of colors, freshly harvested from area gardens...
A few of the witch hazels and evergreens on display - I took this photo early in the morning - once the show opened, the tables were beseiged with gardeners sniffing, comparing, taking notes and asking questions of the knowledgeable volunteers hovering nearby....it was like a living plant library (no wonder I like it so much!)