Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Flower and Garden Show

The kids look at container gardens

(Note: This post is heavy on photos.  The lighting there played tricks with my camera, so the quality is not what I would like on many of them.  I did want to try to convey the breadth and depth of what we saw, so I hope you bear with me on this one!)

Each February, my kids and I look forward with great anticipation to the NW Flower and Garden Show, held in downtown Seattle at the Convention Center.  A day filled with flowers, plants, art, design, inspiration and ideas is just what we need in the midst of a dreary, dark and grey winter.  This year was our best trip ever, and a super rewarding time with the kids.

Beautiful Display Garden

We hopped on the bus at our local transit center, and quickly made our way downtown to within a few blocks of the show.  A brisk walk around the corner and up the hill had us opening the convention center doors to a gust of earthy smelling air.  Up the escalators we went, joining the other excited gardeners just after the doors opened for the day.  We dropped off our coats and hats at the coat check, grabbed our treasure hunt guides, and began our journey through the display gardens.

Peter and the Wolf Garden

The display gardens are the centerpoint of this exhibition, and fill me with wonder and amazement every year.  Boulders, full-sized trees and bushes, fountains and streams, forced bulbs and flowers of all sorts, even live koi and chickens can be found in the gardens.

Fun Little House

This year there was a treasure hunt to find a bird house hidden in each garden by the designers.  We worked on that project off and on all day to redeem our reward late in the afternoon.

A Birdhouse to Find

The gardens this year centered around the theme of music – A Floral Symphony – and it was interesting to see how everyone interpreted the theme differently.

Musical Notes Embedded in Decking

My favorite garden was one sponsored by the UW Arboretum and Seattle Audubon.  The garden was lush and full, planted with a mixture of native plants and interesting ornamentals.

Searching for Birds

Hidden in the garden were several models of local birds that can be found in the urban park.  Nests adorned the trees and bushes, and we enjoyed finding as many birds as we could and identifying them.  Annika thought this was her favorite, too. Another favorite of mine was put on by the Orchid Society, and was filled with orchids of all different shapes and colors.

Orchid Garden

I felt so exotic walking through the display.  Since I’ve killed a few orchids in my life, I admire folks who can keep them alive and get them to rebloom.

Gabe in Children's Area

Another highlight of the day was the children’s area, sponsored by Seattle Children’s Playgarden.  We were treated to the live music of Caspar Babypants, an innovative craft we could make, places to run and jump, and best of all, live bunnies and hens to pet and hold.

Gabe in Love

There were seeds to plant (now sprouting in the dining room) and dirt to dig in.

Annika and friend unearthing veggies

There were raised beds full of soil, and real vegetables.  Kids would dig them up, put them in a basket, and then other kids (or the same ones) would replant them.

Annika scooping

There were large bins full of birdseed, with tools for scooping, dumping and measuring.   The designers of this space were smart – they knew that the activities they designed would help to soothe and calm young children while letting them blow off some steam and giving them space away from the crowds in the rest of the show.  We retreated to this area 3 or 4 times throughout the day, regrouping and resting a bit before heading out to see more of the show.

The kids both bought plants with their allowance they had been saving.  Gabriel had a little list he brought with, remembering what he had seen in the Marketplace in years past.  He was able to find a few of the things on his list: blooming daffodils, a helebore, and a little garden gnome.  He found several other plants, too, and we stored them in the plant check area till the end of the show.  The shopkeepers seemed curious that such young children would be so serious and enthusiastic about their gardening.

Amazing Mosaic

We attended one seminar in the afternoon about vegetable gardening and when to harvest.  It made a good break in the afternoon, being able to sit on cushy chairs in a darkened room and rest our feet while learning from a pro.  We wandered the aisles of the Marketplace, wishing we had more money to spend on art and plants and tools.

Interesting way of planting with pallets

We stayed until almost 7 in the evening, and even then my kids were reluctant to leave.  But we were all tired, and still had to walk down to the bus stop and ride the bus back home.  Daddy was waiting at the transit center to pick us up and hear all about our exciting day.  The kids went right out to plant their new plants, even though it was after 8pm, dark and raining.  They were so proud of what they got and what they saw and learned.  We can hardly wait till next year!

Here are a few more photos of things that caught our eye:

Terrific Terraria
Time in a Bottle
Swinging Fairy
Rusty cast-off art
Looking Out the Window

4 Responses to Flower and Garden Show

  1. Thank you for sharing your story of a day well spent at the garden show. It was so great to read how parents can engage children through the entire day – and enjoy the show themselves at the same time – and see how the show helps foster a love of gardening and nature in children.

  2. I agree with the previous comment, and I find that shows like this one is a great way to infiltrate interest in nature and environment into the big cities.

    Children are oftenmost enthusiastic about nature, as long as they have the opportunity to experience it. This post inspired me to plan a gardening weekend with my sisters kids, thank you!

  3. What a wonderful post. I too have fond memories of the flower and garden show. We used to go with our school class, and I also went with my grandparents many years.

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