Celebrating 30 years in 2018, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show featured inspirational, beautiful, educational, and fun garden design ideas. The designers and landscapers were asked to incorporate a garden party theme into their display. The garden designs embrace current trends in urban gardening, sustainability, and outdoor dining.
Of course, at Greater Seattle on the Cheap, we’re always interested in fun, inspiration, and beauty, we just want it for less money. We found several timeless garden design elements among the display gardens that you can use to create an urban oasis without breaking the bank.
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Garden Design Ideas on the cheap
Rocks and boulders. Boulders the size of refrigerators were present in some of the garden displays, along with smaller boulders, cobbles, and pebbles. The most striking were a pair of granite obelisks etched with the echoes of fossilized plants. Costing around $8,000 they aren’t practical for most home gardeners. However, rocks were also used in many other display gardens: to line pathways and garden beds, as seating, and to hold a wooden tabletop. Inexpensive painted wood cubes were filled with cobbles and pebbles at the edge of another garden design. In my yard, enough rocks have been collected while preparing garden beds to form a small rock river along the side yard.
Logs and stumps were prevalent in several of the garden designs. Used as an object of interest, or as a backdrop to plantings, these natural wood forms can be very interesting elements among plants, trees, and rocks. I recently removed a large tree in the backyard. It left a sizable stump in one corner of the yard, which I plan to simply plant around and keep as part of the landscape. Small logs from the same tree will be re-purposed as camp fire stools, stripped of their bark, dried in the garage, lightly sanded, and coated with polyurethane. The polyurethane isn’t necessary but will create long-lasting seats that can withstand several years of weathering.
Fire pits. Who in the Northwest doesn’t love an outdoor fire pit? For roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, and staying warm on breezy spring and fall (and sometimes summer!) nights. Metal fire bowls were a feature in several of the garden designs. Fire pits can also be constructed of stone, gravel, or brick. You can pay an installer $1,000 to $5,000 or more for a fire pit. Or you can use a DIY approach for a fraction of the cost. This article from Redfin describes 6 Fire Pits You Can Make In a Day.
Found objects. Re-purpose unconventional objects to create a unique garden design. Wine barrels, stainless bowls, and aluminum tubs were some of the objects used as planters in the landscape designs at the show. I recall a friend of mine who looked for tchotchke at Goodwill and yard sales—small statues, crockery, or metal objects—that she place in the landscape among the greenery. So take a look around and see what you have or can find second-hand to add interest to your yard.
Re-purposed materials. In addition to found objects, pieces and parts of various items can be used in a garden design. Some of the materials used at the garden show are barrel hoops, PVC sewer pipes (painted) as plant stands, wood objects (painted or stained) as yard art, and balls wrapped with twine nestled among flowering plants.
Moss is the new grass. It can be a battle to keep moss of the roof and walkways. Moss growing on a roof can reduce the life of your roof, so it’s definitely a good idea to keep it moss-free. But elsewhere in the garden, why not simply embrace moss where conditions for it are ideal? Include moss in your garden design, let it grow along pathways or in large areas of the yard, amongst other plants and objects.
Native plants can be preferable for several reasons. Native plants adapt well to our climate, require less water, and often require little or no maintenance after the first year. You’ll save on watering costs and the low maintenance also means you’ll have more time to enjoy your yard with friends and family. At the flower and garden show, you can chat with experts about garden design, see interesting native plants, and get suggestions for different situations, from sunny to shady, dry to moist, and rockery to greenbelt. Check out this Native Plant Guide from King County and this list of Native Plant & Seed Sources from the Washington Native Plant Society.
About the Northwest Flower & Garden Show
Since 1989, The Northwest Flower & Garden Show has presented gardening enthusiasts with this annual celebration at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.
Every year, the show features gardens created by Pacific Northwest designers and landscapers. The show gardens are brimming with ideas to inspire homeowners with outdoor projects. No matter the budget, size, or style, you’ll find landscape ideas for outdoor living, edible gardening, sustainability, and more.
In addition, the marketplace offers over 300 exhibitors stocked with the latest tools and accessories. You can buy everything for the home and garden from new plants and furniture to hand-crafted wares or art. Within the Marketplace, enjoy the “Tasting Corner,” featuring over two dozen merchants offering enticing samples. If you want to stay longer and need to fuel up, there is more food for purchase, sandwiches, burgers, pastries, and more.
Finally, sit in on free seminars every day of the show, enjoy free package check for any purchase you make, and wander the show with a glass of regional wine or craft beer—or even the show’s signature cocktail garnished with an edible flower.
Upcoming home & garden shows
Listed below are home & garden shows in the Puget Sound region on our calendar.
(If nothing is listed below, there are no upcoming home & garden shows in our calendar. Theoretically, this shouldn’t happen. We update our calendar a few times a year for shows coming up each season.)
Monday, February 6, 2023
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Friday, February 10, 2023
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Sunday, February 12, 2023
Monday, February 13, 2023
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Friday, February 17, 2023
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Monday, February 27, 2023
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Friday, March 3, 2023
Saturday, March 4, 2023
Sunday, March 5, 2023
Friday, April 21, 2023
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Sunday, April 23, 2023
Friday, May 5, 2023
Saturday, May 6, 2023
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Friday, October 27, 2023
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Sunday, October 29, 2023
But wait, there’s more!
- You might like our list of Home & Garden shows in the Puget Sound region.
- And, our big list of public gardens and garden tours.
- Here’s a list of 101+ always free things to do for fun.
- Find free and cheap things to do every day on the Greater Seattle on the Cheap event calendar.
- Visit the Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page and choose from a menu of free and cheap activities in the Puget Sound region.
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