Opening Night Party at the Garden Show

Opening Night Party at the Garden Show

One of the highlights for local gardeners is the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show Opening Night Party on February 7, from 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm, hosted by the Arboretum Foundation to benefit the Washington Park Arboretum. This is a must-attend party for the ‘horteratti’, offering the opportunity to view the inspirational show gardens in advance while enjoying delicious food and fine wines.


Opening Night Party guests are treated to an exciting silent auction, filled with plants, art, tools and travel – chosen by gardeners just for fellow gardeners – along with delectable desserts and fine wines by local vintners. Gift certificates for fine dining, getaways to Mr. Rainier and Victoria, B.C., tickets to a Mariners game, tea for two in the elegant Georgian Room, garden coaching from Garden Mentors Robin Haglund, plus many unique gardening items and plant collections are just some of the things you can bid on at the party.


Patrons and Benefactors will be able to enjoy an exclusive special presentation, “Highlights of the Garden Show” with the 2012 Show Judges: Stephen Orr, Rosalind Creasy and Steve Aitken, with Seattle Times garden columnist Val Easton serving as MC. Find out what special garden features caught the eye of judges this year and what best emulates the future trends in gardening. A buffet dinner and complimentary parking  are also offered to Patrons and Benefactors. For details see the Arboretum Foundation website. 


The Arboretum Foundation, with support from the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department and the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, creates a beautiful display garden every year at the show. This year, teaming with the Seattle Audubon Society, their garden will show a variety of bird habitats, from marshland at the shore to deep forest. Many of these habitats and bird species can be found in the beautiful 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle’s premier public garden. Carved replicas of bird species will show attendees local birds’ nesting and feeding habits, and actual bird nests will also be used to enhance the realism of the display. (I have talked to garden designer Phil Wood about donating four nests from my own garden – each a miniature architectural marvel.)


The garden is being designed by Seattle landscape architect Phil Wood, architect Roger Williams, and noted plantsman and author Bob Lilly – the same trio who created the Arboretum’s 2011 Gold Medal / Pacific Horticulture Award show garden. Titled “Birdsong,” it will also show how to provide food for birds in the form of berries, seeds, nectar, and insects. Representatives from the Seattle Audubon Society are providing expert advice on the details of this bird-friendly garden, and signage with QR-code technology will connect viewers with smart phones to information on each featured bird’s habitat.


The Opening Night Party is a rare opportunity for gardeners to view the 26 show gardens in an intimate atmosphere, before the show opens to the public the next morning. Relax and stroll the gardens and take in the sweeping scenes of these inspirational and cutting-edge gardens, designed by some of the Northwest’s leading landscape architects, designers, nurseries and gardening organizations.


Reservations can be made online or by calling 206-325-4510. No paper tickets will be issued; registered guests will be entered on the Will Call list. You can also make reservations in person at the Arboretum Shop in the Graham Visitors Center, so why not head there today to visit the fabulous Witt Winter Garden?  It’s open daily from 10 am – 4 pm, and it’s one of the Northwest’s finest winter gardens, filled with witch hazels, winter jasmine, mahonia, hellebores and more that begin to bloom in early January. The fragrance will make you swoon.


And of course, you can always volunteer to help with the Opening Night Party, or with the display garden set-up or during the actual show. It’s always great fun to volunteer with the Arboretum Foundation! You’ll be supporting an organization that provides vital resources to protect and support the Washington Park Arboretum, a treasured urban green space and plant collection nestled in the heart of Seattle, and open free to the public year-round. – Janet

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