The Garden Show Report


Thanks to everyone who is reporting in from garden shows.  I just got back from the Portland Yard, Garden, and Patio Show, which turns out to be quite a slick show at Portland's big downtown convention center.  Easily accessible by light rail, a large and comfortable space, and pretty good food by garden show standards–veggie burgers, burritos, and the like. They had a full roster of speakers, and David Hutchinson of Flora & Fauna Books came down from Seattle to sell books.

Those are the speakers and the amenities.  What about the stuff?

Portland begonia

OMG!  Begonia luxurians, where have you been all my life? I have never been all that excited about begonias, but as Andrew Beckman, Timber's new editorial director, said, "It only takes one to get you started."  This might just be my gateway begonia.

Portland wood trellis

I don't know where I would put this Arts and Crafts-inspired wooden trellis or what I would do with it, but I love it.

Portland chicken coop

This little building was meant as a demo for a company that builds human-sized sheds, but I think it's perfect for my chickens. It even has wallpaper inside, which every diva hen requires.

Portland lettuce thing

 I don't know what to make of this.

Let us know where you're posting your garden show reports.  Here's a few that have caught our eye:

Timber reports on the Seattle show.

Susan Morrison also reports on the Seattle show.

A Seattle report from Gardening in My Rubber Boots.

More on Seattle from GardenHelp.

Susan Reimer on the Maryland show.

BlueGrass Photography with cool panaromas of the Cincinnati show.

And can I just say?  Many of these shows are REALLY working hard just to stay alive.  Advertising revenue, booth space rental, ticket sales–all hit hard in myriad ways by the economy.  It would be an act of good horticultural citizenship to make an extra effort to get out to a garden show this year, bring some friends, buy some stuff, etc. etc. We might not all go to our local garden shows every year, but in this economy, they can all use a little boost.  I know that a few shows considered sitting out 2011, but it's hard to get it going again after skipping a year.

And don't you think we all deserve at least one big garden-themed event in our community every year? Yes, the displays can get repetitive, and the vendors can be the same year after year. But I love buying plants directly from the growers at these shows, and I appreciate getting to see the speakers, some of whom are friends, and some of whom are rock stars of the gardening world who I've never actually met but love getting to see up close and in person.

 What about you?  Worthwhile, these garden shows?


  1. I’ve got a perfectly good and very functional shed – but that one is so cute!!!! Now to come up with a way to justify it 😉

  2. I’m sure that most garden shows are eminently worthwhile – just not the one in my area, the Gardenscape show in Rochester, NY. It used to be marvelous- the landscape displays in the main building, then the marketplace behind it. The Federated Garden Clubs (full disclosure-I’m a very active member and so have an axe to grind here) used to have a small standard flower show that was a huge favorite with the crowd – we got kicked out years ago. Area florists used to have a big display area – no more. There are only one or two vendors selling plants, few selling seeds – most are selling unrelated-to-horticulture, as seen on TV crap. Such a disappointment. Other than the landscape displays (and a lot of them aren’t anywhere near as attractive as they used to be), there’s really not much incentive to spend the money…..

  3. I forgot to mention that the most laughable thing about Gardenscape is that the organizers like to refer to it as the “next Philadelphia Flower Show”. I’ve been to the Philadelphia Flower Show, folks – you aren’t even within spitting distance……

  4. Canada Blooms, the largest Flower and Garden Festival in Canada will be presented from March 15 to 20th at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. This year the Festival celebrates its 15th Anniversary with more special experiences than any recent event. A major element is the new JUNO Rocks Gardens featuring JUNO Award Winners Jully Black, Ben Heppner, Sarah Harmer, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and a tribute garden to Oscar Peterson.

    The Preview Cocktail Reception features Cirque du Soleil and JUNO Performances.

    An event that should not be missed.

    For full details visit

  5. Thanks for the link, Amy. This was my first time at the Northwest show and I thought the caliber of the display gardens (my favorite part) was first class. I gather the seminar rooms were new so I didn’t have anything to compare them to, but they are large and luxurious – in fact, the whole Washington convention center is lovely. I’ve come to realize location is important. You can have great displays, speakers and shopping, but if the show is cramped,dark or dirty, it detracts significantly from the experience.

    The only negative was that I flew rather than drove to the show and didn’t check luggage, so no shopping for me. I’m hoping to make up for it at the San Francisco show in two weeks by buying TWICE as many plants!

  6. The Minneapolis Home and Garden Show is going on right now, but I won’t be going. It is heavy on HOME with almost no GARDEN. I don’t know why they don’t just call it the Home Remodeling Show and be done with it.

  7. I actually enjoy my local ILM (Wilmington, NC) garden show. It is like a big family reunion for gardeners. It’s teeny–probably takes about an hour to go through, but I always see 50 people I know, and those 50 people see 50 people they know.

    Our show is put on by our local arboretum, run by the local Cooperative Extension, and thus is all PLANT no PATIO. Love it.

  8. My review of the Orlando Home and Garden Show was how pitiful. Very little to do with gardening and I hated the overly aggressive vendors that chase after you to sell there non gardening items.

  9. I agree with Susan 100% about the Rochester Flower Show. The first flower show I ever went to was Phili. It was a 7 hour drive and I’m so glad we made it. Two weeks later I stayed in my hometown and went to the Rochester Flower Show. It was such a disappointment I still always consider the drive to Phili every year. Besides talking to some master gardeners, picking up some of their free seed packets, and getting free shipping from Lee Valley, it isn’t a very interesting show.

  10. Is it just me, or do others find Garden Shows with display gardens limited to the theme a downer? I personally would have been sorely disappointed if I had decided to go to this year’s PNW Garden Show, finally for the first time, and discovered that fairy tales were the common denominator. I prefer to see what landscape designers come up with based on what they WANT to do, but maybe that is just me…

    One of these days I do hope to see the major shows back east, which I expect are more like Chelsea in that they really emphasis the technical aspects of forcing plants to get them to bloom, etc, which is not really even necessary at the San Francisco Garden Show, which is the one I am most familiar with, and even helped design a display garden for the main floor displays, for the San Francisco Bromeliad Society. What I did learn from the whole process, is that putting a fake garden together in 4 days time is not the way I prefer to work; much more in my character to have at least a couple of weeks or even months to get the garden put together and with an end product that is a real garden, meant to be experienced in real time. Personally I prefer a garden tour over a garden show, at least if I am the one having to make the garden…

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