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Cover Story Plant Life On Fitness Taste Northwest Living Now & Then

Plant Life
Dig Into These
Mark your calendars for the horticultural highlights of 2003
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Although plant shoppers are rarely deterred by foul weather, the overhead cover at the Arboretum's big spring plant sale encourages gardeners to linger despite April's bluster. This year's sale at Sand Point/Magnuson Park will be April 26 and 27.
REMEMBER WHEN the gardening season began as soon as flats of colorful geraniums and petunias showed up in nurseries, then wrapped up five months later with the first frost? Now, the engaged gardener has no such respite. The Northwest is a horticultural haven, home to hundreds of gardening organizations whose events continue year-round. You can shop, gawk, tour and learn in every month of the year. You can also waste time and money on less-than-the-best. So here's a preview of not-to-be-missed horticultural happenings for 2003:

Feb. 15: Heronswood's Hellebore Garden Open. Despite the sometimes nasty weather, this always feels like the first garden party of the year. Shoppers storm the tables to find plants in glorious flower, soak up founder Dan Hinkley's lectures on hellebores, and tour Heronswood's famed winter gardens. The $7.50 entrance fee is a benefit for the Elisabeth C. Miller Library; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information and directions at 360-297-4172 or

Feb. 18: A gala to benefit the Arboretum Foundation and preview the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. This year's event is called "Spectacles," and organizers promise a sight to behold, as well as wine, food and a silent auction. Enjoy an uncrowded look at the 29 display gardens while sipping champagne. And if you needed a good reason to join the Foundation, tickets are $100 for members, $150 for nonmembers; 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; 206-325-4510.
Illustration Now In Bloom
The February daphne (D. mezereum) is a deciduous shrub with bare branches coated by richly fragrant pinkish-purple flowers in late winter, forming a perfect backdrop to the earliest daffodils. In summer, red berries accent the gray-green leaves. It needs full sun and good drainage, and grows to about 4 feet. D. mezereum 'Bowles' Variety' has white flowers followed by yellow berries, and is a little more vigorous, usually reaching 6 feet.
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Feb. 19-23: Festa Botanica is Seattle's eight-acre Northwest Flower & Garden Show at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. A production of the Lanford Wilson play "A Betrothal," cool plant shopping and gardens running the gamut from Zen to funky junk should be highlights. For tickets (the play requires separate admission): 800-229-6311 or

March 12: See flower arranging as theater at a demonstration by European-inspired local florist Raul Ramirez. Part of the Northwest Horticultural Society's Wednesday-night lecture series, it's $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers, no reservations needed; 7 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture; 206-527-1794.

April: Plant-sale season begins with the granddaddies of them all, featuring a tantalizing mix of specialty nursery vendors. The Master Gardener Foundation Plant Sale is April 12-13 at the Center for Urban Horticulture (206-543-8616) followed on April 26-27 by the Arboretum's huge Florabundance sale at Sand Point/Magnuson Park (206-325-4510).

May 4: The Ultimate Garden Auction is the Northwest Horticultural Society's party to benefit the furniture fund for the new Miller Horticultural Library. From 5 to 8 p.m. revelers gather at the Center for Urban Horticulture to eat, drink and bid for unique gardening services, art, containers and plants. Advance registration at $65 is required; 206-527-1794;

May 17: Hear two of England's most famous gardeners speak about the garden they know and love best. Christopher Lloyd and his head gardener, Fergus Garrett, from Great Dixter House and Gardens will give a pair of lectures on garden design from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Museum of History & Industry. $25 for Northwest Horticultural Society members, $35 for nonmembers; 206-527-1794.

June 14: The Arboretum Foundation is throwing its first-ever summer-solstice plant sale, featuring herbs, trees and everything in between, as well as containers put together by local gardening celebrities. At the Graham Visitor's Center; 206-325-4510.

July 12-13: The Bainbridge in Bloom garden tour will feature noteworthy gardens, an art sale and lectures. For details, and a complete list of area garden tours, call the Plant Answer Line at 206-UW-PLANT; also available at

Sept. 17: Frank Cabot, founder of the Garden Conservancy, will give the annual Miller lecture at the Museum of History & Industry. Cabot will discuss his beautiful Canadian garden; tickets are free, but must be reserved after Aug. 19 at 206-362-8612.

Valerie Easton is a Seattle free-lance writer and contributing editor for Horticulture magazine. Her e-mail address is

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