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The Future of the NWFGS & SFFGS

The probable demise of two of the largest indoor flower and garden shows in North America!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

February 1, 2009

Running alongside of this article are 21 photos of the 2007 and 2008 Northwest Flower & Garden shows. The first 14, up to the beautiful collection of specimen orchids from an exhibitor in Hawaii, are from the 2007 show and the balance from 2008. If you would like some additional details about any of the pictures here, just consult the specific articles I wrote about the two shows. They are in this site’s archives under the dates of February 18, 2007 and February 24, 2008. Many of the plants are identified there. All author photos.

I am sad to say that I have yet another loss to gardening and horticulture to announce this week--in fact a potential double loss! Here is most of the content of a news release issued just this past Friday by Duane Kelly, Chairman of Salmon Bay Events

“For more than two decades the Northwest and San Francisco Flower & Garden Shows have inspired millions of individuals and families to embrace gardening via their dramatic display gardens and extensive seminar programs. In 2009, those events will make one last spectacular run before closing their doors forever.

“‘My wife Alice and I have decided that this year’s events will be our last as organizers and we are pulling out all of the stops to make them the best on record. We’ve enjoyed every minute doing this the last two decades but are ready to pursue some other passions,’ said Duane Kelly, chairman of Salmon Bay Events, the company that owns the shows.

“The Northwest and San Francisco Flower & Garden Shows are the second- and third-largest flower shows, respectively, in the country; the largest is in Philadelphia. They have earned an international reputation for the quality of the display gardens, seminars, and commercial exhibits.

“‘We had hoped to sell the shows to buyers that are committed to maintaining their level of quality and recognize their importance to the community,’ Kelly said. ‘However, to date, we have been unsuccessful.’ Without a buyer emerging he will be closing the business following the 2009 shows.

“The last Northwest Flower & Garden Show will be held Feb. 18-22 at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle; the final San Francisco Flower & Garden Show will take place March 18-22 at the San Mateo Event Center. The Northwest show was the first major event ever produced at the Washington State Convention Center. Over two and a half million people have attended these two shows since their inception. Annual attendance ranges between 40,000 and 80,000 for each show.

“Duane Kelly invites gardeners from throughout the Pacific Northwest and California to visit the 2009 events and celebrate over two decades of flower show magic. He wishes to thank the tens of thousands of people in the nursery and landscape industry on the West Coast, the gardening media, and the horticultural community who have supported these shows for so many years.

“The theme of this year’s shows is ‘Sustainable Spaces. Beautiful Places.’ The 25 display gardens will be first-rate--many offering inspiring ideas about sustainability in gardens. Sustainability will also be the focus of many of the free seminars presented by speakers from around the world.”

I have only seen the San Francisco show once, and that was before the present owners, Salmon Bay Events, owned it. That was back about 1979 I think. The one I attended was in that city’s famous Cow Palace, which has been the site for the last 21 years for the show as staged by Salmon Bay. This year, however, they are moving to a new exhibition centre in nearby San Mateo. I hope to take it in but I have not made any arrangements yet.

The Northwest show too has been running for 21 years, and I remember being in Vancouver at the UBC Botanical Garden in early February of 1989 and meeting an official with the new show who invited me to come down to Seattle to see it while I was in Vancouver. Unfortunately I could not stay on here an extra week, and said I would get out to see it “soon”, but sadly that trip did not materialize until the spring of 2007! Then we went down again last year.

I personally hope that a, or a couple of buyers, will come forward to keep up the good work of Duane Kelly and his family and dedicated workers.

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