Kick off to spring party begins Feb. 7

“This is the premiere kick off to spring and lucky for us it is held indoors every February inside Washington State Convention Center.”

There’s a garden party coming to Seattle and it is called the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Feb. 7-11. This is the premiere kick off to spring and lucky for us it is held indoors every February inside Washington State Convention Center.

A lot has changed over the more than two decades that this show has been growing, including more room with better crowd control (you can get closer to the display gardens) discount hotel room offers, discounted half day tickets and to celebrate that spring is in the air – a festival atmosphere with food, wine, beer and entertainment mixed in with the tradition of outstanding display gardens, informative speakers and vendors selling all things spring and garden related.

Competition Heats Up at the NWFG Show: Every year the show gardens are judged by horticultural experts, but newer to the NWFG show are the “reality TV” style competitions of “Container Wars” and for the first time “Floral Wars” that pit expert designers against one another while the audience watches. This means it is the garden fanatics, new home owners, spring seekers, and “I’m just here to get out of the house” show attendees that vote on the winning designs in real time — by clapping their hands, stomping their feet and making some noise as the designs are completed.

How to win at Container Wars — Top Four Tips to draw applause for your own design: You may not ever need to design a container or floral arrangement for a boisterous, thrill-seeking crowd, live, on stage but you can keep these winning tips in mind when picking out plants for your own potted masterpiece this spring.

As the host of “Container Wars” for the show the last few years I don’t get to vote on which potted garden looks the best, but I do get to see what designs make the audience “ooh” and “aah” and then I steal the best ideas to use back home in my own container garden designs. Here’s my take home container gardening ideas from the past winners:

1. Be bold with a really big plant in the center of the pot. A canna, spiky plant or drama mama with huge blooms always steals the show.

2. Go with contrasting leaf sizes. Place small foliage plants with fine texture next to plants with huge leaves.

3. Color contrasts show up better than blooms all in the same color family. Black mondo grass around the edge of a pot filled with white blooms or gray foliage paired with purple is a crowd pleaser.

4. Add some whimsy or an unusual new plant to your container creations. Glass balls, dried flowers, hardy orchids, and vegetables and herbs all look great and add a fresh look to your old pots.

Your front porch planters may not be up on stage competing for applause but anytime you add a spark of creativity or try something new you will draw the eye, add excitement and be the victor in your own quest to wage war on the gray of winter days.

Humans are happiest when they are creating something. Gardeners never stop creating and that is reason enough to throw a garden party.

See you at the NWFG show.

Marianne Binetti will host “Container Wars” at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show daily at 11:30 a.m. Visit www.gardenshow.com for more details.

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