Glimpse into the Past – Remembering the First Northwest Flower & Garden Show

February 4th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

A former staff member, Rebecca Johnson, shared with me a copy of the “First Annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show” program, held on Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 17-20, 1989.   On February 10, 2015, the 26th Show will open. I am proud to say that I have attended each one, including the Preview Party, a benefit for the Washington Park Arboretum. This 48-page colored glossy printed program was a synopsis of horticulture in the Northwest at that time.  The cover photograph, taken by the late Jerry Sedenko, features the Streissguth Garden, now a public garden on the slope of north Capitol Hill.

cover photo

This indeed was an exciting event, showcasing such a sizable indoor garden  display never before seen here.  A dream come true of the founder and owner, Duane Kelly, it was patterned after the fabulous shows of Boston, New York, and  Philadelphia.  Jane Pepper (Philadelphia) and Richard Daley (Mass. Hort. Society)  were advisers.  Duane’s vision and enthusiasm for the Seattle show is expressed in the “Welcome to the Show” program introduction.  The appreciation list is a glimpse of Northwest horticulture leadership including Dr. Harold Tukey, Nancy Davidson Short, Steve Lorton, Jerry Wilmot, Egon Molbak, and Ann Lovejoy as well as Kathleen Brenzel of Sunset Magazine.


The 25 gardens were built and sponsored by Molbak’s, Star Nursery, Iseli Nursery, Briggs Nursery, Swanson’s, Rodda and Sons, Weyerhaeuser Nursery Products,  Weyerhaeuser Specialty Plants, Price Ragen, Magnolia Lawn and Garden, Washington Park Arboretum, Barford’s Hardy Ferns, Furney’s, Seattle Water Department, Seattle Parks Volunteer Park Conservatory, Jackson and Perkins, Skagit Gardens/Wight’s, Highridge Corporation, Puget Sound Bonsai, Ikebana International, Big Rock Garden, Bamboo Brokerage, Columbia Greenhouse, FTD Florists, and Boeing Aerospace Company. There was also a children’s garden.  The entire garden layout plus all the retail booths were on the fourth floor.


The center section of the program contained colored pictures and short descriptions of 26 Northwest public gardens in an article written by Nancy Clark Hewitt in which she states that “the Northwest is blessed with an excess of natural beauty inspired by nature’s bounty.  A rich gardening tradition has developed here, and is to be showcased in the show. “


From the very moment of conception Duane wanted the Northwest Flower and Garden Show to be educational, and I was privileged to plan and lead these free lectures and seminars for those first years, then held on the sixth floor.  As stated by Duane, “these programs “represent the greatest amount of horticultural, floral, and landscape knowledge ever assembled under one roof in the Northwest.”  We were overwhelmed with attendees and early on struggled to contain waiting lines.  In addition the show offered free booth space to horticultural societies where the public could find answers and talk to local experts.

Over these 26 yrs, the NWFGS has changed with the times, but it is still one of the best indoor garden shows of the USA, if not the world.  Why not follow in the footsteps of thousands and attend the forthcoming Northwest Flower and Garden Show, “Romance Blossoms?”

Get a jump start on spring at the 2015 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

January 30th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

Flower show logoSpringtime is on the cusp of arrival here in Seattle, which means it’s time once again to be immersed in the rich sensory wonder that is the Northwest Flower & Garden Show (NWFGS). Heralding the beginning of the new growing season, the NWFGS celebrates gardening by showcasing spectacular planting designs and provides a myriad of opportunities to learn more, stock-up on plants, and let your imagination run wild. The show will be held this February 11-15th at the Washington State Convention Center.

Make sure to stop by the UW Botanical Gardens’ educational booth, #2513, to explore the many opportunities we’ll be offering this year to develop new gardening skills and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Botanic Gardens. The UWBG booth theme is “Discover & Learn,” and will highlight the Arboretum’s interactive map, our year-round educational opportunities, and the iconic locations throughout the botanic gardens.

“Romance Blossoms” at the 2015 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

The theme for this year’s show couldn’t be more fitting for Valentine’s Day weekend. “Romance Blossoms” will be the inspiration behind the 21 featured show gardens, designed by the region’s top landscape designers. This year, following suite with the show’s theme, the gardens will display even more rich floral abundance, 50% more to be precise. This is due to the show’s commitment to an expanded “forcing” program in collaboration with two local growers.

Come GROW with us at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show!

January 8th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

postcardWith all the sights and smells of springtime, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show signals the end of the winter doldrums and the beginning of the growing season! The show will be held at the Washington State Convention Center, February 5-9. Details can be found at

Be sure to stop by the UW Botanic Gardens’ educational booth, #2401, to explore the many opportunities we offer for you to bolster your spirit, energize your body, grow your own food, and develop exciting new skills in the year to come. We look forward to seeing you there!

Opening Night tickets now available

December 26th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

photoThe Arboretum Foundation host’s the Opening Night Party and Auction at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. This year the party is on Tuesday, February 4th. Guests will enjoy strolling through the fabulous display gardens with a glass a wine.  The money raised at the event supports the Washington Park Arboretum. Purchase tickets and learn more.


NW Flower & Garden Show – Get a Jump on Spring

February 7th, 2013 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Please stop by the UWBG booth and say “hello” at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show this year. We’ve got a great corner spot at booth #2304 in the Community Organizations area. New for this year, we’re combining forces with Seattle Parks & Recreation to create a “mega-booth” connected by a wedding arbor being built by the city’s carpenter crew. During the show, we’ll be highlighting our Rental Program, so look for lots of pretty pictures of events at our rental sites at the Center for Urban Horticulture and the Graham Visitors Center.

A Hobbit house surrounded by native New Zealand plants at the NW Flower and Garden Show

A Hobbit house surrounded by native New Zealand plants at the NW Flower and Garden Show


The Arboretum Foundation’s award winning garden from 2012 featured birdsong.

This year’s show runs February 20-24 at the Washington State Convention Center.

graphicFor a fantastic evening out why not attend the Tuesday evening Preview Party hosted by the Arboretum Foundation? You can bid on unique items in the silent auction, stroll the display gardens before the crowds arrive, sip wine and enjoy a dessert buffet. This fund raiser for the Arboretum is always a fun time. Tickets on sale now.

CUH Update – February 2011: Show Time

February 22nd, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Apologies for the delay in getting an update posted. We’ve had several little projects we’re trying to complete and we are getting numerous volunteer applications, which we have been going through and contacting interested individuals who are interested in helping us out in grounds.

Late winter brings with it a lot of planting and transplanting projects and our major one so far this year has been the relocation of an established specimen of Edgeworthia crysantha from the McVay courtyard to a new location just north of the Miller Library.

Transplanted Edgeworthia in a bed just North of the Merrill Hall

Like its close relative, Daphne, Edgeworthia resents being moved around and the fact that it’s also recovering from the hard freeze of last November with just a few buds remaining to open, we did our best to get the largest rootball possible and replanted it immediately into its new location. Cross your fingers!

With more severe winter cold predicted to come our way again, we are keeping our eye out on a few plants that could suffer. Obviously, Edgeworthia is on that list along with the two large Osmanthus we have in the Fragrance Garden. Our poor Daphne bholua doesn’t deserve another hit; this poor plant hasn’t flowered for us in three winters.

Then there are the Azara microphylla, which are just starting to flower that could be hit with cold and the remaining buds zapped and our massive Cordyline australis on the south side of Issacson Hall is already a sorry looking site. So, basically, anything spectacularly fragrant is being monitored.  Hehe

Our first accessioned plant for 2011 has been planted here at CUH in a large Chinese container donated by a special donor that once held a beautiful cascading Japanese maple, but when it became too troublesome to keep up the watering and the foliage would crisp up in the summer sun, we had to replace it.

Detail of the fierce branches of Citrus ‘Flying Dragon’

The maple has moved into a new home in the Woodland Garden over at Washington Park Arboretum and, for awhile, the pot was empty until it was decided that we would seek out a specimen of Poncirus (Citrus) trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, a hardy citrus, to fill that void. Bloom River Nursery down in Oregon was able to provide us with a standardized specimen that’s been trained for ten years. It now graces the pot with its exquisite and somewhat sinister looking branches. It is highly unusual and will definitely be a conversation piece. Now we have to determine an under-planting so it doesn’t look so bare below.

Spring is definitely in the air when the sun decides to show itself and bulbs begin to bulge out of the ground and bloom their little heads of. Our annual show of yellow, cheerful, daffodils are just days away.

But for a real show, the 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden Show is finally here and UWBG has a most unusual booth this year thanks to our friends at Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club.

Rey Lopez generously donated a kayak for our display with one end cut off so it would stand and then it was planted up to make it look as if it had traveled to both sides of UWBG. Native flora and accessioned plants represented the Arboretum while more natives , including red-twig dogwoods and cattails complete with a “blue-tube” represent Foster Island and UBNA, while more exotic garden plants represented CUH.

Planted kayak that’s been through Lake Washington having collected materials from UWBG along the way

February is flying by so quickly with many activities taking place. The next few weeks should be spectacular (barring any serious cold snaps that will do certain plans in).