Gardening where the sidewalk ends

“Sustainabilty” Suspect? February 19, 2009

Filed under: edibles,garden shows — greenwalks @ 3:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

The theme of the NW Flower & Garden Show this year is “Sustainable Spaces Beautiful Places” so I was really expecting a lot of the show gardens and booths to showcase innovative ways for us to all make our gardens and public spaces more sustainable. So I was pretty surprised at the slim pickings I found on the day I attended.

The seminar schedule offered a few talks related to this subject, but none during the time I was attending. In fact, they seemed mostly to be clumped onto a single day instead of being spread throughout the week. Wonder why?

The very concept of a massive indoor garden show, where thousands of tons of plants, rocks, furniture, and sale goods are hauled in by gas-barfing trucks and then hauled back out again is, by nature, not very sustainable. In fact, it’s pretty wasteful! So the “theme” really felt like paying lip service to a hot topic without backing it up in reality.

I searched nearly in vain for any examples of edible plantings – a small container garden collection by local nursery Emery’s Garden was pretty much all there was, and although they did a great job of showcasing how beautiful vegetable planters can be, they were not in the high-profile “show gardens” space so they may not have had as much of an impact. (Caveat – at times the crowds were so thick that it could be I missed something!)

Striking edible container

Aside from a few flower and veggie seeds for sale, there weren’t even very many food crop things to buy at the booths. I did see one kiosk of rhubarb starts and asparagus crowns, but I don’t think they were organic:

Rhubarb plants for sale

Raintree Nursery was there and they had a few things for sale, including mushroom-starter kits that could be fun to try someday. I do love shiitakes.

Grow your own shiitakes

I was excited to go check out the “Green Living” section of the sale area but it was pretty small. Okay, unless I was really missing something, it was pathetic! One booth selling rain barrels,

Rain barrels for sale

some people offering lavender essential oil

Copper lavender oil press

and one lonely guy at a roofing booth – that was pretty much it. I hate to be cynical here, but if your whole show is supposed to focus on sustainability, it seems like there should have been a bit more. Did I miss some huge swath of the show because I was too frazzled to pull out the map and really study it?

I had hoped to come away with a lot of new ideas for how to set up areas of my garden to work more in harmony with the land and climate where it is sited. I guess I’ll just have to keep trolling the blogosphere and visiting the library! Did anyone else who attended find sustainable gardening products or ideas to take home? Please share, if so!


11 Responses to ““Sustainabilty” Suspect?”

  1. GardenJunkie Says:

    Garden show themes seem to be mostly “for show.” I just spent the day at the CT Flower and Garden Show (more info on my blog) where the theme was “America the Beautiful” and the competitive design and horticultural exhibits had the there “Of Thee I Sing.” I still can’t figure out how either of those played out in any of the exhibits…

  2. jean Says:

    You make a very good point Karen. I just got back from the show and didn’t find it particularly “green”. Though I took the bus to get there rather than driving my car, once I got there I bought a coffee in a paper cup with a lid. I felt embarrassed the whole time I was drinking it!
    Thanks for reporting on the show.

  3. shibaguyz Says:

    Such a disappointing report. Last year the theme was great and there were TONS of chickens, veggies, green roofs and edibles everywhere. Sad to hear they just did a “buzz” this year to seem “with it” when it comes to sustainability.

    Oh well… we’re still going to this, our last, garden show in Seattle. We’ll buy that pair of pruning shears I’ve always wanted and maybe even finally pick up a rain barrel. Who knows…

  4. Grace Says:

    Interesting post. I love your comment about the gas-barfing trucks. They are the WORST. It’s kind of like Al Gore flying on his exhaust-spewing jet to get the word out about Co2 emissions and reducing our carbon footprint to combat global warming. You kinda go, huh??

    I didn’t/won’t attend the show, however I’m thinking maybe there were xeriscape booths, or plants requiring less water. I could see how this could get lost in the shuffle.

    And the question I have, did you buy any plants?

  5. Tessa Says:

    I wanted to go to this and now I’m glad I didn’t! I’ve actually never been. I bet it is because of the economy right now- I’ve noticed that people are just now starting to get out and spend a little $. For the most part businesses are really struggling, not to mention the ones going out of business, right and left. Kind of ironic, really, if there was ever a time to really push sustainability ideas- it’s now! Not that there haven’t been much worse times before, of course.

  6. Melanthia Says:

    Hi Karen. I did a quick visit today with the little guy. I agree that their definition of sustainable must be very limited — like water features, lots of grasses and native plants. I didn’t get to look too closely since tje boy was not having it, but nothing really jumped out at me (except that red Mustang!) I’m going again this weekend and hubby with have son so I’ll dig deeper then.

  7. Hi Karen, such great reports you have done from the Show – great pics and texts! I just felt just as grumpy as you about this show, as I also thought that the Sustainability theme really got lost somewhere amongst the commerce. I hope that the show resurrects and next time with some more credibility… I am too tired after a day out there, so I just better stop whinging and have a glass of wine. Have a relaxing weekend – Liisa.

  8. Sue Says:

    I don’t like it when the “G” word is thrown around so freely, just to make money. I’m sorry they didn’t live up to their hype.

  9. Megan Says:

    Somehow I missed this post, but I’m glad I revisited and found it. I have been pretty suspicious of the word green in the last few years. Seems like it’s more of a marketing term than a practice in some cases. In gardening, especially, sustainable and organic practices ought to be the rule not the exception.

  10. Philip Says:

    Hi Karen!
    I have noticed that frequently the word sustainable pr green is used, but there is nothing behid it. it is like a hook for promotion. Now, their thought maybe in the right place, and they just have not considered much beyond a slogan.

    • greenwalks Says:

      Philip – You are so right. Someone here called it the “G” word and it is being so overused at the moment. I hope this show comes back (do you ever go the one in SF, owned by the same folks?) but maybe it will have to rethink its MO.

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