Design Inspiration from the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

Borrow these ideas from the best display gardens and inventive plantings

I [HEART] SPRING – the theme of the 2024 Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

With the theme “I Love Spring,” the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival presented more than 20 display gardens, 115-plus sessions and other learning activities, and thousands of treasures in the garden marketplace. Held February 14-18, 2024, the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival is the best annual event to gather ideas and inspiration for beautiful living spaces. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting to dig in the dirt, there’s something for everyone!

Below, see our favorite designs from the show’s Garden Creators. These Pacific Northwest designers and landscape experts put their hearts and souls into crafting showstopping garden displays. These temporary works of art were constructed in under 72 hours on the show flower with 30,000-plus forced plants and blooming flowers.

Eat, Sleep, Create: A Garden Retreat

Bask in alfresco moments with a garden that sparks inspiration. Picture this: a workstation seamlessly transitions from office to a tree-canopied haven, where easy-care flora carpets the ground. As evening descends, the table clears for lively gatherings or tranquil moments surrounded by stunning metalwork sculptures. The garden boasts a custom home office built by Studio Shed nestled amidst river birch groves, their exquisite bark an organic masterpiece. Container gardens punctuate the landscape, offering bursts of color and culinary delights. A swinging day bed beckons, allowing you to find solace and inspiration in every corner—a testament to the artistry of outdoor living.

Take-home ideas: Big or small, once a design is thoughtfully and purposefully tailored to a space, it becomes much more personal – a custom oasis.

Eating area
Foreground: Outdoor eating area
Outdoor Sleeping Area
Outdoor Sleeping Area with swinging daybed
Where to Create
Where to Create
Back yard
Backyard area behind the creative studio
APLD garden details
APLD garden details

Emerald Reverie: Living a Plant-Filled Life

Step into “Emerald Reverie,” where indoor and outdoor boundaries dissolve for a harmonious connection with nature. This garden, born from the dream of a Victorian-inspired stumpery in a modern context, boasts innovative foraging paths and a striking Shou Sugi Ban faux wall.

Careful color and shape choices indoors mirror the outdoor space and showcase elevated aesthetics. Salvaged materials, vintage finds, and unique plantings add whimsy and tell a story of reuse. From the meadow of spring onions to a vintage Gunnera bench, the garden invites an exploration of interconnectivity between the built and natural environments. Relish Gardens specializes in creating spaces that serve all who call them home, embracing a life lived with plants.

Take-home ideas: Seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces with innovative foraging paths and unique plantings.

Emerald Reverie
Emerald Reverie: Living a Plant-Filled Life by Relish Gardens (Claire Lidell Hanna) with Little Prince of Oregon, Mark Leighty
Emerald Reverie
Lush and Vertical – how to fill a garden wall with fronds and foliage
Trellis walls with chevron lattice details as backrop to plants
Trellis walls with chevron lattice details as backrop to plants
Rustic wood and fern details
Pocket plantings in a reclaimed trunk
planting details
Planting details
Little green moments
Little green moments

Forest Bathing

Step into a sanctuary that blends the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with the ancient Japanese art of “forest bathing,” known as Shinrin-yoku. Hello Garden’s unique garden showcases a partnership of Northwest plantings, creating an immersive experience that transcends the bustling city surroundings. The garden’s design artfully conceals its interior, inviting visitors to fully embrace the enchantment within, creating a picture of peace and slow living. The carefully chosen plantings, a fusion of florals and Northwest evergreens, evoke a sense of tranquility. A living tea garden takes center stage, a nod to the restorative power of nature. This garden invites visitors to explore the benefits of fostering an appreciation for the healing power of the forest.

Take-home ideas: Leave this garden inspired to create your own sanctuary of serenity, healing, and peace.

Full plant list

Goodland Wood Fired Hot Tub

Forest Bathing
Forest Bathing by Hello Garden (Kate David) with Corona Landscaping
A soothing destination
A soothing destination
Plants for aromatherapy and body care
Plants for aromatherapy and body care

Here Comes the Sun

This garden harmonizes contrasts – rustic yet industrial, whimsical and modern, blending formal and natural elements. Multiple arcs intersect, echoing the sun’s radial pattern, forming a dynamic space. A salvaged-material shed serves as a cozy playhouse or writer’s retreat, with rain cascading down to a reflecting pool. A lush path leads past woven steel walls to a curved bench on a flagstone path. Artful touches are everywhere with statuary from Greenman Stone and birdhouses from Cave Fish Studios adorning the landscape. It’s a garden for everyone—children enchanted by the shed, adults gathering by the welcoming bench, and wildlife beckoned by pollinator-friendly plantings and birdhouses.

Take-home ideas: Take advantage of succession planting, spring ephemerals and bulbs provide an early show and fade away to allow summer and fall perennials to shine.

Here Comes the Sun
Here Comes the Sun by Devonshire Landscapes Inc. (Rick Fox and Katrina Perekrestenko) with Zenith Holland Nursery
Love this rustic garden retreat
Love this rustic garden retreat with a tin roof!
Wraparound covered porch
Wraparound covered porch
rustic heart
A sweet sentiment in fairy lights
More details
If you look closely, there’s “rain” dripping off of the tin roof into the plants below.

How Much She Loves Us

Reflecting the intricate link between homeowners and landscape, this garden by Jen Szabo Design mirrors how surrounding landscapes influence both dwellings and their occupants. The central garden structure serves as the ribcage of a home, organizing the space with balanced gardens in every direction and offering a blend of public and private realms united by elements like a earthy protective wall that nurtures a natural sanctuary and a communal front porch. Interwoven stone, wood, earth, and steel throughout the garden create a harmonious marriage of modern and rustic, softened by lush greenery.

Take-home ideas: Explore new ways to integrate plant material into hardscapes.

How Much She Loves Us
How Much She Loves Us by Jen Szabo Design with Mod Studio
Called the "Ribben House"
The modern shade structure is called Called the “Ribben House”
The "Production Garden"
The “Production Garden”
Water feature, deck, lower patio
Water feature, deck, lower patio
Lower patio details
Lower patio details reveal stonework cushioned with groundcover plants

Harvesting Beauty

Step into the heart of HomeGrown Organics’ cherished family garden on Vashon Island, a living tribute to the connection between life and the land. This display is a testament to the art of cultivating both beautiful and purposeful plants. Wander through a greenhouse featuring a blend of orchids and both traditional and exotic edible crops. Amidst this botanical haven, visitors will discover a reflective pool, a beacon of stillness and tranquility. Designed with all ages in mind, this garden creates space for inspiration, creativity, and play. The garden features a meadow of sedges; a resilient lawn alternative in wet soil, creating a perfect play area for the family. This garden invites visitors to connect with the essence of life, one plant at a time.

Take-home ideas: Walk away inspired to build a greenhouse space that provides productivity, beauty, and an inviting gathering space.

Harvesting Beauty
Harvesting Beauty by Homegrown Organics (John Coghlan) with NW Green Panels
Greenhouse by NW Green Panels
Greenhouse by NW Green Panels
A native/tropical fusion on moss-covered maple branches
Designer John Coghlan describes the hanging moss and orchid branch “A native/tropical fusion.”
Water feature in steel
Round water feature in steel anchors the garden’s corner
Outside and inside this beautiful greenhouse
Outside and inside the beautiful greenhouse

The Awakening Dragon

Embark on an extraordinary journey through a sanctuary where orchids and tropical flora thrive alongside an awe-inspiring rock formation – shaped like a dragon awakening from an eon-long slumber. While these plants hail from PNW interors, their growth outdoors here remains unfeasible, lending an exotic touch to the space.

Enthusiasts of fantastical tales like Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons will revel in this whimsical space, transporting them into a realm of imagination. The colossal dragon fashioned from wood and slate rock, and adorned with moss and epiphytic plants, narrates a tale of ancient slumber. This garden is a testament to the Northwest Orchid Society’s dedication to educating about orchids and contributing to conservation efforts, safeguarding these exquisite blooms in their natural habitats.

Take-home ideas: Discover new display methods to capitalize on aesthetic potential.

The Awakening Dragon
The Awakening Dragon by the Northwest Orchid Society with Emerald City Orchids (Joe Grienauer, Nora Hightower, and Andy Wright)
A wall of orchids across the dragon's "back"
A wall of orchids across the dragon’s “back”
Echoes of an awakening dragon, as plants line his ridged “back” and “tail”
A world-class orchid collection presented in a fantastical storyline
A world-class orchid collection presented in a fantastical storyline

The Secret Garden

Step into an enchanting realm within this hidden faerie garden, with a breathtaking waterfall sparkling at its heart. Crafted to ignite the imagination of both children and adults alike, this mystical oasis promises an otherworldly experience. Designed to inspire and captivate, this ethereal space weaves a tapestry of magic for young adventurers and those young at heart. Keep an eye out for fluttery miniature faeries hiding among an impressive 15-foot-wide x 8-foot-tall stump. This whimsical garden will find a permanent home at Point Defiance Zoo, ensuring its charm continues to mesmerize and delight visitors for generations to come.

Take-home ideas: Use lights to create effects and highlight key aspects of a garden, scaling to manipulate the perception of the space.

The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden by Nature Perfect Landscape & Design (Landen Moore)
The secret garden's hobbit door
The secret garden’s miniature hobbit door
Faeries dance in the secret garden
Faeries dance in the secret garden, a reimagined tree stump
Vignettes capture the viewer's imagination
Vignettes capture the viewer’s imagination

I Heart Spring
I Heart Spring

Save the Date: The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival returns, February 19-23, 2025

Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American-grown flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, she has convened a national conversation that encourages consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases. Debra is the producer of, the weekly "Slow Flowers Podcast" and the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4) campaign. Debra is author of 11 books, including Slow Flowers (2013), The 50 Mile Bouquet (2012) and Slow Flowers Journal (2020). She is the co-founder of BLOOM Imprint, the boutique publishing arm of Slow Flowers.

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