• Greg Graves

Building a Show Garden

For the past 20 plus years I have participated in The Northwest Flower and Garden Show, one way or another. At first I just attended, then I worked at a couple different non-profit organizations booths, which is what I’m doing this year.  One year I even helped a friend build her display garden. I’ve always been fascinated by the design skill and timing involved in building a complete garden in just 3 1/2 days.


starting point – the bare floor


This year I went in on Monday morning to set up the booth for the Northwest Horticultural Society. We also did some containers for the South Sound Gardens. After our brief and easy set-up I had the chance to wander the garden floor and watch some of the gardens being created.  These people are in day three of set up with only 24 hours to go. Some gardens looked almost done and others you can tell, the pressure is on. To think of this huge space with a plain concrete floor and florescent lighting being transformed into more than a dozen display gardens is truly amazing.


compost being delivered to structure


Each garden starts out with its defined space and that’s it. They bring in their own trucks, pre-scheduled, with everything they need to get started, rock, building stones, wood and sometimes even buildings. The basic outline and main design elements, such as buildings, are installed first.Next sawdust and compost are brought in to create the topography of the garden. The plants are brought in as the final element of the design. Many of the gardens were just starting to do the planting today.

I left after a few hours. I know it will be quite magical to walk in Wednesday morning and see the low lighting and all the beautiful gardens in place, like they have been there forever.


adding compost


The show runs for 5 days. Besides the display gardens there are hundreds of vendors selling garden related materials. There is also an area for educational booths which have a wealth of information for the gardener. A number of the organizations like the Northwest Horticultural Society have year- round programs for the gardener to become involved in.That’s where you’d find me.

We have had a relatively mild winter so I’m sure many people are itching to get back out into the garden. The show is just the inspiration many people may need to really get going.

South Sound Gardens Container


South Sound Garden Container


South Sound Garden Container



prop on the loading dock



excited crew getting plants delivered



plants awaiting delivery


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THE OLD GOAT FARM

20021 Orting Kapowsin Hwy. E.
Graham, WA 98338
Phone: (360) 893-1261
E-mail: oldgoatfarm@comcast.net

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