Two Friday dates

Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Every Christmas I find two tickets to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in my stocking. Come February, the show marks the exit from gloomy winter to dreary spring. Playing hooky from work for an afternoon (cough, cough) is part of the tradition. To my winter-weary soul, nothing beats entering Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center and breathing in an acre of soil and plants in the display gardens. Ahhh—spring!

This post covers only a small sampling of the garden displays. Hope you enjoy the color!

Entrance to Washington State Convention Center seen from street

Spring is through these doors!!

There’s always a theme to the display gardens; this year’s theme was “America the Beautiful.” Let’s begin right here in Washington State with a visit to the Hoh Rainforest. This large display was incredibly realistic, with native plants, fallen trees, and even a natural mulching of dried leaves.

Native plantings and fallen cedar tree depict the rainforest floor

Native plantings depict the rainforest floor

Nearby was a nod to the upcoming PGA Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, complete with azaleas, Rae’s Creek, and the Hogan Bridge.

Stone bridge, creek, azaleas, and golf green salute the Masters tournament

As close to Augusta National as I’m likely to get.

A trip to the desert Southwest sounds good at this time of year.

Rocks and cactus form a xeriscape garden.

I’m always attracted to xeriscape gardens.

A bushy yucca in a garden display.

I waited a long time for a woman to move so I could photograph this yucca.

One of my favorite gardens this year was inspired by Smith Rock State Park in Oregon, with rocky outcroppings and windblown, craggy trees.

Rocky slope garden with snags and grasses

Heavy lifting.

Water puddle in the rocky garden

Traces of a seasonal stream among the rocks.

From bare rocks to an overabundance of blooms.

Colorful flower garden with tulips and weeping cherry tree and gazebo.

Where’s my Zyrtec?

Colorful mosaic cat statue in a flower garden.

I hoped to find this mosaic cat in a vendor’s booth, but no luck.

Great seasonal color around the basalt water feature, inspired by Na Pali Coast State Park in Hawaii.

Daffodils surround a black basalt rock water feature.

Banana leaf unfurls.

Someday I’ll have a banana plant. Yes, they do grow here!

This gorgeous fence promised something special inside. So did the people crowded around with their mouths open. “Tiny Tetons” was probably the most beautifully designed display we’ve seen.

Horizontal wooden slats form a high wall

We’ll remember this design.

Tall rocks in back and waves of purple and green in front look like the Tetons.

The sense of depth was masterfully done.

A depiction of Denali National Park in Alaska featured trout from Fish in the Garden (we have FITG carp in our garden).

Blue ceramic trout hover over a woodland stream.

Are they swimming high or flying low?

Beyond the display gardens were acres more, filled with vendors of all things garden-related. Fish in the Garden was there, all the way from Maine.

Vendor booth selling ceramic fish.

The Fish booth is always busy.

I was so fascinated by this sculptor’s metallic shoes that I didn’t take a picture of his wares, which were, appropriately, water features made of brass musical instruments.

Metallic shoes.


Are bugs your thing? You can collect some fancy ones for your wall.

Large metal sculpture insects mounted on the wall.

Where’s my fly swatter?

And of course, the Northwest is home to glass artist Dale Chihuly, so art glass is very popular here. No sign of Dale, though.

Inevitably, after a day filled with beautiful garden designs and colorful art, we always return home to this: February in the Northwest, the deadest and gloomiest month for the garden, and the wettest winter on record. Right now, it just looks like a lot of work.

Messy winter garden in the sun.

You should see it on a rainy day.

I was inspired enough to plant primroses in our porch planters and create this succulent garden (with frogs!) for my desk at work.

Tabby cat standing next to planter of primroses.

Tara is worried because the primroses are already bedraggled from rain.

Square green planter with succulents and ceramic frogs.

How many frogs can you find?

And we installed our garden art addition, an biplane whirligig, which fits in nicely because we enjoy watching the small planes fly over our house as they turn to land at our local airport. We’ll let it rust up and then add a coat of protective lacquer.

Rusty steel biplane whirligig mounted in the garden

On final approach.

Suddenly, it’s March, and everything’s starting to bud and grow, including the weeds. Our Mt. Fuji cherry is about to put on its annual show.

Cherry tree buds about to bloom.

It won’t be long now.

Seattle Home Show

The week after the garden show, we returned for the Seattle Home Show. We don’t hit this show every year, but it’s time for us to start getting serious about building our retirement home on Whidbey Island. I can hardly believe we’re to that point. We have a lot on our plate this year: The company we both work for is going through massive layoffs, we are planning to retire within the next two years, and we’ll be building a house on our island property … and, of course, continuing to work on the bungalow. What could go wrong? Right now, life is full of questions and we just have to wait for some of the answers. We’re having an interesting year.

At the Home Show, this architect’s design caught our eye. This home’s exterior comes really close to embodying our vision for our next house.

Now, we’re just waiting for the money tree in our backyard to bloom like crazy! Where’s my fish fertilizer?

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it


15 thoughts on “Two Friday dates

  1. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    Stunning gardens, including your little succulent pot with the adorable little amphibians. Now I need a mosaic cat and some of those huge insects. I love them! It is exciting that you are so close to the next step in your lives. Are you planning to eventually sell the Bungalow?

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Jessica, I thought of you when I saw those big bugs! Knew you’d like them! It is exciting and a little scary to know we will jump off the retirement cliff soon. It’ll be very hard for me to sell the bungalow. Maybe we’ll rent it for a few years … not sure. But the time is coming for a new chapter!

      1. Jo

        When I saw the mosaic cat I immediately thought Jessica could make one. Or you, D’Arcy, you’re good with plaster. I think we need a mosaic cat challenge. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

      2. D'Arcy H Post author

        I’m sure I could make a mosaic cat, and it sounds like fun, doesn’t it? But the last thing I need right now is another plastering challenge! 🙂 If only I were retired …

  2. Karen B.

    I love garden shows and your show looks fabulous. A mosaic tile cat, even if it had been small, would have been a treasure. Too bad they didn’t create one to sell.
    Seeing the work in your garden made me think of yesterday—Mr. B and me hit the patio bed with new bender board and after working in some organic soil I planted 26 1-gallon plants. The rain visited us last evening so I’m hopeful it will take off as soon as the warmer days arrive.
    Best of luck this year—I hate uncertainty. I hope when you begin building on Whitby, you’ll share. What a wonderful region to live in…lucky you.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      You must be sore today, Karen! We spend yesterday outside, just cleaning up some of the winter mess and pruning roses, and my back is complaining today. I will begin a new blog when we build the new house … but what to name it??

  3. Marv

    What a great Santa gift! The professional photos and commentary should be offered up for next year’s Garden Show promotion.

    Worked in the garden last week separating raspberries and weeding. Definitely spring fever. Looking forward to golf.


  4. Cathy Lee

    Three frogs… and thank you for sharing the show. The biplane is especially beautiful in your garden, and I love the design of that home. Good taste, you and Eric have!


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