22 Feb Eavesdropping on Show-goers
My dad would be delighted to spend eight hours a day, seven days a week in his garden. I did not inherit the gardening gene; I’m content to weed my half-acre, scraggly-looking yard twice a season. Dad’s been pestering me to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden Show with him for years, and this year, I succumbed.
Nervous about being surrounded by thousands (and I mean thousands) of avid gardeners, I decided to cover the show from behind the safe confines of my camera, my notebook, and my voice recorder (I’m a journalist; I can’t help myself).
- As I began my circuit of the convention floor, I was dumbstruck by the fact that nobody seemed to be in a rush. Here in Seattle “Hurry” Washington, the sight of oodles of folks strolling around at a snail’s pace was rather jarring. People literally stopped to smell the roses…and orchids…and daffodils. They stood—rooted in one place for minutes at a time—gazing reverently at displays, pawing through merchandise in the Marketplace, and generally behaving as if they’d been temporarily transported to another planet.The Show is a great place for gardeners (and, ahem, non-gardeners) of all skill levels. At each display garden, the designers perch on stools and readily (and knowledgably) answer any and every question pitched at them.
- The Show is a hands-on, noses-on experience. People couldn’t resist fingering plants, trees…even stone fences; I saw many a nose buried deep in a blooming flower, followed by an ecstatic, “Oh, that smells so beautiful. Uuuum.”
- Each of the Display Gardens (the heart of the Show) had coconuts somewhere in the exhibit. Why coconuts? “So kids can go on a treasure hunt; they win a prize for finding all the coconuts,” explained one garden designer.
- You may spot somebody famous. As I was leaving the Show, I saw Ciscoe Morris sitting at his book table ALL BY HIMSELF. I had expected his line to snake around the entire convention center, but there Ciscoe sat, looking rather lonely. To give him credit, he’d been signing books for over an hour, and for all I know, his line had snaked around the entire convention center.
As I visited each exhibit, I sidled up to folks and eavesdropped. Here are a few snippets of conversation I overheard (to view full-size photos, click once on the photo. Click again to return to thumbnail):
*A young man in the Marketplace remarked to his wife: “There are no kid thingies.” (Actually, there are ‘kid thingies’—to get to the Sproutopia area, walk over the Skybridge and past the Women’s Health Pavilion. At Sproutopia, I met the show manager, who was leading a “build your own greenhouse in five minutes” project with the kids).
*Somewhere on the convention floor, I heard an extremely loud “Aaachoo!” The sneezer’s companion remarked, “It’s all that pollen…or it could be somebody’s perfume.”
*At “Abaresque,” a woman raved, “I love this, with the path.”
*One man (long-married to a plant-savvy wife who had a habit of reeling off the scientific names of every form of vegetation known to mankind), pointed at a random plant and announced, “That’s an albelia floribunda hybrid wastonia.”
“Is not!” replied his startled wife. “You’re making that up.”
“Am not,” he shot back. “It says it right here, on the little sign.”
*At “Dreams Really Can Come True,” a couple stared at the large cement “conversation pit.” The man mused, “I guess you could sit out here in front of the fireplace.”
His female companion stated, “I wouldn’t want that in my yard.”
*At the WaterWorks Garden Sculpture booth, a woman swooned over a very cool sculpture called “French Horn” (only $3,000 plus tax): “Oh, isn’t that tuba-looking thing darling!”
I loved the entire Show, especially the Display Gardens. I was entranced by the camping- and nature-themed displays: “Weekend Adventure” and “Tranquility in the Wilderness.”
“Sure,” he replied. “This entire display is for sale.”
I was afraid to ask him how much it costs. But a girl can always dream, right?
About the columnist:
Laura Christianson is a Snohomish author. She co-founded He Blogs, She Blogs, the company that manages the blogs for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show and the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. She’ll be contributing additional reflections about the show during the next few days.