Ideas From Flower Show Displays

Ideas From Flower Show Displays

I am out at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle right now. The Rhode Island Flower Show is also  this weekend, and the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Boston Flower Show are right around the corner. Each of these spring flower shows has an assortment of display gardens and vendors, and all are a chance to forget what winter has delivered and welcome the return of the growing season. While every flower show has its own character and regional flavor, the displays offer many opportunities to get our creative juices flowing. Flower show gardens are not realistic, of course. They are usually crammed with far more plants than you’d actually put in a landscape, for one thing. Since these events are usually in the spring the display gardens are also filled with only spring flowering plants. In our own landscapes we would like to have plants that bloom in all seasons of the year, so that we can be surrounded by as many flowers as possible. The displays we see at a flower show are also a bit more dramatic than we want in our front or backyards; they are stage sets, not landscapes. But we can take ideas and inspiration from these displays nevertheless.

This display was created by a Seattle company called Nature Perfect Incorporated.

This display was created by a Seattle company called Nature Perfect Incorporated.

What are some take-away tips you could gain from this dramatic display?

  1. Notice the use of different colors and textures of green shrubbery. Even when these plants are similar in height, having a variety of shades of green, and a variety of textures, makes this landscape interesting.
  2. Dwarf iris are used here to simulate a stream. Something similar could be designed in a private landscape using a combination of rocks and the long-flowering annual Scaevola. Note that the “stream” varies in width just as a natural body of water does, and it meanders back and forth instead of flowing in a straight line. If you’re designing a dry stream bed or a simulated planting, make the lines flow naturally.
  3. Rocks or other solid objects are the perfect contrast for the fine textures of plants. Use rocks, a birdbath, garden ornaments or benches to provide focal points and a place for the eye to rest.
    This is called a "Maker's Garden" and it was designed by Mya Kerner.

    This is called a “Maker’s Garden” and it was designed by Mya Kerner.

    Here are just a few ideas that the Maker’s Garden sparks:

  4.  If you have a covered porch, consider putting a hutch or shelf unit there that can hold pots, ornaments and a display of plants.
  5. Create a garden area for writing and making crafts or art! There is nothing like nature for getting the creative juices flowing.
  6. See the bundles of herbs hanging from the line? Don’t they look sweet? You can, of course, do the same using herbs from your garden. But how about putting up a line where bunches of other plants are hung just for ornament? Pick small bundles of weeds, flowers or grasses from your landscape and use them for wall decor. String three lines between two poles and use the bunches of plants to create a charming screen that still lets in the light and breezes.  There are dozens of ideas to be harvested at a garden show, so be sure to go and take a notepad and camera.


  1. Pamela on February 25, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for this inspiring article, C.L. I especially appreciate the bit of design training. And who can mind seeing such a beautiful arrangement.

  2. donna riley on February 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Hi CL,
    I place the plastic Adirondack (inexpensive and happy colors)chairs around my yard in strategic locations so that I can rest if need be while doing yard work.

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