Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A smaller, more practical Yard, Garden & Patio Show

Your intrepid correspondent checked out the Yard, Garden & Patio Show last weekend here in Portland, but then your intrepid correspondent got sick, so she is (er, I mean *I am*) just now getting around to posting about it. Hey, if you want prompt, go to CNN. They get paid for their reporting.

The Yard, Garden & Patio show is the unofficial kickoff of gardening season here in Portland. It's held at the Oregon Convention Center and features exhibits from landscapers, nurseries, and other purveyors of fine garden-related products. Several of the landscapers create mammoth landscapes for the show, usually including waterfalls and full-scale gardens. One year they even created a small lake in the middle of the exhibit hall, complete with a canoe bobbing next to a dock. Seriously. This year, though, the show was smaller and less ostentatious. Apparently the lousy state of the economy is taking its toll.

There were still some big landscape displays, but there were fewer, smaller, and more in keeping with the current back-to-frugality movement. Several included vegetables mixed in with the usual landscape plants, a nice way to show that edibles can be attractive as well as functional. Here's an example:
Edibles as bedding plants
Of course, most of these veggies are planted way too close together, but they do look pretty.

A couple of the landscape displays also featured chickens, which are becoming very popular here in Portland. Here's a small veggie garden display, complete with egg-y looking chicken coop (and chickens):
Egg-y chicken coop and veggie garden display

I especially appreciate these trends, as I think anyone who has even a little bit of sun in their yard can grow a few vegetables, even if they live in one of those we're-better-than-you subdivisions that ban sensible things like clotheslines and vegetable gardens. Go ahead... tuck that chard in between your barberries. Slip some basil under the roses. Your snooty neighbors won't recognize them as edible, since they probably think a vegetable's natural habitat is the produce section at Whole Foods. If you're lucky, they'll think you're the first on the block to discover the latest trendy bedding plant. If they ask you what it is, give 'em the Latin name, which will boost your snob factor and make them even more envious. It's so new it doesn't even have a common name yet! I must have Joe the Gardener plant 50 of them. Now.

OK, OK, I digressed again, didn't I? Maybe I should call this blog Rainy Day Digressions. Anyway... back to the Yard, Garden & Patio Show. There were some notable absences this year (besides the giant lake): Fred Meyer wasn't there, and neither was Metro or my favorite orchid vendor from Hawaii. There were others missing too, though I can't remember exactly which ones. The wine section, however, was larger than usual. About 2 rows of booths were devoted to wineries pouring (and selling) their wares. The economy sucks? Drink your troubles away! I was pleasantly surprised to see that the big displays used fewer bedding plants, which in past years have been tossed in the dumpster after the show (and in some cases removed from the dumpster by Yours Truly). I asked one of the landscapers, and he assured me that they weren't throwing any plants away this year. While that puts a crimp in my dumpster-diving, I'm glad to see the vendors being less wasteful. Maybe this bad economy will have a few side benefits. Maybe.

Finally, there were several garden artists displaying their wares, which included some wonderfully quirky things. For example, check out punk rocker propane cannister dude:
Punk rocker propane dude

Or these seriously cool boots planted with sedums:
Sedums 'n boots New use for old boots

So what did I buy? Not much - a gold-hued sedum and a purple oxalis. I was frugal before frugal was cool.


Gardeness said...

Hey, if our garden show doesn't re-emerge I'm coming to your town for this one! I seriously love the chicken coop. If I ever convince the hubby to allow chickens in our yard, I'm copying that. My little guy would get a big kick out of it. Thanks for sharing highlights from the show.

Kim and Victoria said...

I love your idea about dumpster diving after the garden show. :-)

Janet said...

Gardeness, come on down! It's a fun show - always interesting and inspiring. As for chickens, we've had them since last May, and my husband loves them. He spoils them rotten, even cooking rice and oatmeal for them now and then.

Kim and Victoria - I've had good luck with garden-related dumpster-diving. I don't do it much, but I've managed to rescue a few things over the years. I hate waste in all forms, especially when it's living things. I can't even bear to throw out my poinsettias after Christmas, even though they never look decent afterwards.