Pssst. Want to hear about Dan Hinkley's biggest garden bloopers? Or how about the do-it-yourself English garden?

The garden show season is upon us, and February brings two well-known events to Seattle and Portland.

The first is the 16th annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show, held Wednesday through Sunday, Feb. 4-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. In a nod to Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the rest of the Corps of Discovery, the show's theme is "Discovery in Bloom." For five days, the horticultural world will interpret the Corps' experience in plants - five acres worth of exotic and earthy landscapes - as well as plants and gardening supplies for sale (sorry, no trade beads accepted here!), expert lectures, an orchid show, children's gardens, the unveiling of the 2004 Great Plant Picks and more.

It's really a show to be taken in over several days, with little stops between activities for snacks at the food court (no pemmican!) or the beverage bars conveniently situated at the entrances to many of the exhibit halls. If you like container gardening, there are containers from 20 professional designers to inspire you. If garden poetry's your thing, Sunset magazine's Northwest Bureau Chief Steve Lorton offers "America's Poetry of Nature." High school students from throughout the Northwest try their hand at garden art by using throwaway junk, while the Northwest's largest orchid show takes place on the fourth floor.

As for the show gardens, check out what's billed as a "dog-friendly" Puget Sound woodland garden, a rain-harvest garden and an edible garden that promotes the "Plant a Row for the Hungry" program. Of course, the botanical discoveries of Lewis and Clark are feted, as well as what the promoters call a "backyard playground for adults." Let's just say there are 27 full-size gardens for you to peruse. Wear good walking shoes. Take your camera. Make notes.

The judges this year include Suzy Bales, the author of "A Garden of Fragrance" and the The New York Times garden column, "Cuttings." She'll talk about growing roses without chemicals and gardening for fragrance. Judge Mary Keen, a garden designer who has won acclaim for creating new gardens in historic spots in England and elsewhere, will talk about personal color choices and changing trends in the garden. Scot Medbury, the chief administrative officer for the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was the curator for Honolulu Botanical Gardens. He'll describe the challenges of the San Francisco project, as well as talk about plants of the mid-century Modernist Garden.

A complete list of speakers, lectures and times is available on the show's Web site, By the way, Hinkley, of Heronswood, spills the beans Wednesday. And new this year for the seminar series, you can pick up a reservation pass starting one hour prior to the seminar. No more rock concert lines for popular speakers, or at least that's the hope of the show's organizers.

Feb. 27, the Oregon Association of Nurseries opens its 17th show, which runs through Feb. 29. Although smaller in scope than the Seattle show, the Portland event offers quality speakers and gardens on par with the larger event, I'd venture, in a more intimate setting.

Nine gardens will be on display, including the 2004 All-American Rose Selection winners in their own space. The seminars look especially good, including Barbara Ashmun, Ann Lovejoy, Lucy Hardiman and others talking about 64 topics during the three-day period.

I liked the title of Country Living Magazine writer Michael Weishan's talk, "The Seven Deadly Sins of Modern American Landscapes, and How To Avoid Them!" The description reads: "Per capita, Americans spend more on gardening than any other nation on earth. So why then is our country filled with boring, cookie-cutter landscapes from coast to coast? It's because we succumb to the seven deadly sins of landscape design. Here's what they are, and here's how you can avoid them." Elsewhere, one can take in "The Do-It-Yourself English Garden, Parts 1 and 2" with Peter Bonsey, The Learning Channel's "While You Were Out" gardener.

Ann Lovejoy returns to the garden book scene with her newest guide, "The Handbook of Northwest Gardening." She'll talk about "Natural, Sustainable, Organic," and give a slide show that guides you through the steps of making, planting, and maintaining a gorgeous garden using safe and simple techniques. Details on these lectures, and more, are offered on the show's Web site,

The site also offers discount admission coupons and promotions, such as contests. You can fill out the forms online, then bring them with you to the show to enter for chances at show prizes. The Oregon Association of Nurseries also holds a drawing for free tickets online. Go to the Web site, choose the ticket contest button and fill out an entry form. One winner will be selected each day, from Feb. 23 through 26, to receive two free tickets. If you get tapped, your tickets will be waiting for you at the lobby.

Cathy Peterson belongs to the Clatsop County Master Gardener Association. "In the Garden" runs weekly in Coast Weekend. Send comments and gardening news to "In the Garden," The Daily Astorian, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR 97103 or online at

If you go ...

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show runs 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Tickets are $16 in advance (purchased by Jan. 31), $19 at the door, $13 for a half-day ticket (after 3 p.m. at the door only), $15 for groups of 20 or more, $7 for a child (ages 4-11), and free for children 3 and younger. The All-Show Pass is available for $65 and is good for all five days of the show. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. Not only is the ticket less expensive, but ticket lines at the door will be avoided. Advance tickets are available for purchase at numerous nurseries and garden stores throughout the Pacific Northwest, and online at For information, call (800) 229-6311.

Closer to home, the 2004 Yard, Garden and Patio Show in Portland takes place Feb. 27-29 at the Oregon Convention Center. The show will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The show takes place at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Portland. It's near where I-5 and I-84 converge and just across the Willamette River from downtown Portland. Just look for the distinctive twin glass spires as a guide. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased in advance at Safeway TicketsWest locations or on site at the Oregon Convention Center's ticket box office during the show. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. For information and discount coupons online, please see The toll-free phone number is (800) 342-6401.


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