|Flower and Garden Show
| Every February, plant and garden lovers converge at the
Northwest Flower & Garden Show, now 9 years old, held at the cavernous
State Convention Center. There's little outdoor gardening to do in
February, so celebrating inside is easy. The flower show is an extravaganza
that combines art, commerce, education, and an amazing concentration
of people. Because of its huge attendance, 5 day timespan, and breadth
of offerings, it is definitely the yearly horticultural highlight.
| Rather than blitz you by enumerating all the show's components, I
will merely single out three personal favorites. First and foremost are the
30 or so main garden displays. Their large size and prominent location
on the main floor forces the spotlight upon them. Every year I peruse all
the designs, then choose my favorite. One pass through is never enough
to do more than select several runner-ups. When viewing the gardens,
I don't care whether the scenes are realistic or not, but seek artistry
and excellent work. If a display looks lovely, is carefully made, and warms
my heart, then to ask anything more is crass. Last year my choice was
a display featuring topiary, which included a little girl made of
moss, wearing a dress of ivy. Some purists frown upon shaping plants
into people or other artificial forms. I figure it's fun, and if we are going
to tinker with our own hair, for example, then we can sculpt plants as well.
| Children, rightly or wrongly, are given far less display space
than adults. Children's gardens are upstairs, arranged on tables, each
vignette about the size of a placemat. Compared to most grown-ups, the
children demonstrate a refreshing and wholly uninhibited boldness of
imagination. Why does the maturation process tends to muffle creativity? I
shall perhaps never forget how in the year (1991) of the Persian Gulf
War, some children --unlike any adults-- had dedicated
peace gardens, one being a simple rectangle of sand from which were sprouting seeds
sown in the shape of the peace sign.
| Also on the upstairs floor, along hallway walls, hang numerous
colorful paintings and drawings of plants and flowers, all by local artists.
In gazing at these I pretend to have enough money to buy my favorite,
and so must choose it. Exercises like this at once strengthen my
appreciation of art, and gently remind me to focus more on earning money --so I
can afford such lovely work.
| The rest of the show, including its dozens of speakers, floral
arrangements, ancient-looking bonsai trees, rapturous orchids, commercial
and educational booths, do not disappoint me, but I rank them as
secondary pleasures. Another vital ingredient is the considerable socializing
and business that takes place --I have met wonderful people thus. My
only advice is that you avoid the peak times of Saturday and Sunday
afternoons, unless you love crowds; weekday nights are good times to attend.
|(originally published in The Seattle Weekly, February 1997)