The Once and Future Flower Show

Five days of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, here and gone.  Attendance seemed to be up — many gardeners thinking that this might be the last show they’ll see, because Duane Kelly announced he will close this and the San Francisco show if he doesn’t find a buyer.

Still, spirits and hopes were high.  Duane holds firm in his belief that this is a garden show, and so will not sell to those interested parties who would turn the floor of the garden displays into booths for bathroom tiles, double-pane windows and roofers.  Sorry, you all have your place, but it’s not here.

Memories of past shows filled conversations.  I talked with John Christianson, owner of Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon.  John and Toni’s flower show gardens, full of charm, plants and old-fashioned cottage design, top many people’s list of the best displays.  Who could forget Mole’s End?  They are on schedule to build a display for next year’s show.

At a brief tribute to Duane, held on the floor of the show Saturday afternoon, Egon Molbak and Bob Chittock spoke.  Molbak’s sponsored gardens for years, most, if not all, designed by Bob.  I told Egon that my favorite Bob Chittock garden was April in Paris. Although it was several years ago, I can’t forget its impact; it was extravagant, full of flowers, an extreme shot of spring.  Egon said his favorite was Tivoli.  Bob had never been to the gardens and park in Copenhagen, so Egan sent him there in October — even without the summer crowds and flowers, he was able to translate the feeling of the fun and the history.

Another favorite of mine, this just a few years ago, was Phil Wood’s fountain on the sky bridge.  It was the perfect Olmsted design, and we could have been in Central Park instead of Seattle.  People were drawn to the feature, and actually laid their picnics all around it.

The show must go on.  We anticipate an announcement from Duane in early spring.


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