• Featured Gardening Articles

  • Featured Recipes

  • Article Categories

  • Get Garden Help by the Month

  • more info

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2011 Wrap, Part I

March 03, 2011
Mari Putting Intricate Finishing Touches on The Lusher Life Project Garden

Mari Putting Intricate Finishing Touches on The Lusher Life Project Garden

The Seattle garden world was in a whirlwind last week — or at least I felt like I was caught in a mesmerizing horty tornado! That’s what happens when you’ve got an all access pass to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show on a year like this one. Now that I’m coming out of my hazy show-over, its kind of amazing me to realize everything that happened during those brief few days. Whew!

Before the show began, I was on site working with my talented client Mari of The Lusher Life Project. Mari decided to try her chops at the show by putting together an award-winning container display garden. Yep, first try she took one of the three awards given in the container display category. And it was kind of a no-brainer for a recycling & repurposing maniac like Mari to win the award for Best Re-characterization.

During set up as I helped The Lusher Life Project team, I was thrilled to make connections with old and new friends on the show floor. Mari’s display was sandwiched between two great gardens. To the north, was a tropical delight co-designed by my friends miniature enthusiast friend Janit and container-brilliant Christina. To the south, Mari was flanked by delightful DIG. What I found most thrilling about being in this small space was not just the opportunity to soak up their talent but the cooperation that everyone put into building these gardens. Their team work brought to mind a made up term I first heard when working in high tech years ago — Coopertition.

A Fishing Float Adds Unity Between a Seaside Succulent Garden & A Lush Tropical Space

A Fishing Float Adds Unity Between a Seaside Succulent Garden & A Lush Tropical Space

In high tech I never really believed the idea of Coopertition. There was a heckuva lot less cooperation and a heckuva lot more competition. In the hort world, this term really does have substantial roots, which were beautifully illustrated among this group of talented designers. Yes, they had all worked for months to imagine, design and cultivate the displays they were rapidly constructing for the show. But all of them took the time to help one another hold ladders, tweak designs, and protect tender plant materials. Their ultimate, unselfish goal — to ensure the garden show itself was stunning. As Christina told me during the show, “(the gardening world) is a very small community; the more friends you make, the more we can help each other. Our neighbors helped us by just being willing to share opinions; this was huge! It shows the typical, generous horticultural spirit — sharing wisdom and feeling good.”

And, Christina’s absolutely correct. When considering an open space in her garden, next to Mari’s, she decided to add a large glass fishing float to add cohesion and flow between the two gardens. When she and Janit were fine-tuning their statue of Buddha, Mari’s brother Lance took the time to share his well-traveled knowledge of Buddha to help them honor the god properly.

DIG's Garden Wall Unifies with Neighboring Lusher Life Seaside Dock Garden

DIG's Garden Wall Unifies with Neighboring Lusher Life Seaside Dock Garden

As I watched the DIG Nursery garden framework being built, I was absolutely thrilled to see that their design repeated the weathered, recycled elements so prominent in Mari’s garden. Their wall near Mari’s garden was a beautiful piece that could easily been interpreted as a fishing shack on the dock of Mari’s seashore display. Sylvia of DIG shared how she loves how the show is “a shared experience less than a competition. Each winner gives me new insight; you are building on each other. (Our south adjoining neighbor) Ravenna Gardens are total pro’s; I learn from them. Competition is good; it pushes you.” Not only did Sylvia get inspiration from her neighboring designers, but she also benefited from the customers Mari was able to send to her retail location during the show — DIG happened to be selling wire baskets similar to ones Mari had prominently displayed in her garden.

Okay, so that’s my report on getting ready for the show with others as a volunteer. I haven’t even gotten to the show itself — preparing for my seminars, hosting multiple visits from Growing a Greener World TV in my garden (as it snowed), attending tweetups, the gala and GWA meetings, shopping with young gardeners (and for myself), talking honeybees to the show audience with Corky of Ballard Bee Company, teaching kids the joys of vermicomposting, writing for the garden show blog, and all the other fun things that happened all in just a few, short, action-packed days!

There’s a Part II to this story that will have to wait for another day. Right now, the sun’s out & I’ve got gardens to design!


  1. Posted and RE-Posted!!! What a great take on this Robin. You really captured a lovely situation that WE didn’t really realize consciously was happening. Good on you! Thank you for writing this beautiful piece.

  2. Theresa Loe says:

    What a wonderful angle Robin. It is so true. We saw that too while we were filming. Everyone was helping everyone. Gardeners are just the coolest people!

  3. Ivette Soler says:

    Robin, you perfectly summed up why I gravitated to the gardening world when I left acting – after SO much competition, I was surprised and delighted by the spirit of cooperation and oneness. It seems that those who are in this world think less of themselves as individuals, and more of community, society, world. I love that, and I learn SO much from it! As gardeners, sharing is natural for us – being kind, helpful, and generous is an extension of that. I am so proud to be a member of such a great industry!
    Oh, and I had dinner with Mari – I LOVE her!!! What a creative soul. I can’t believe that was her first display garden – what a talent! Good job, Mentor!!!
    Wish I could have seen more of YOU, but you were zipping around like a bumblebee – next time!

  4. rhaglund says:

    Ivette – thank you so much. And, yes, I wish I’d had more time in that overwhelming week of fun & antics. Hopefully I’ll see you and share a martini (or three) at the summer fling. Glad you got time with darling Mari. She’s one who loves to cultivate the goodness thru her fantastic Lusher Life Project. Love it!

  5. […] walls. Last year, our fabulously talented client Mari put together a stellar design, which took the Best Re-Characterization award. I can’t wait to see who does what in […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)