What inspires you to make improvements to your home or garden? Do you need visual examples or do you prefer reading research-based product reviews? This month, we attended the Tacoma Home and Garden Show in Tacoma, Washington. While perusing the numerous aisles and displays set up at the recent garden show in our area, my husband and I experienced all of this and more. We couldn’t help but find inspiration somewhere.
This garden show was designed to bring together businesses in the home and garden improvement industry with homeowners in the region. Whether testing out new products or talking to businesses about their services, we left feeling ready to tackle a project. We also wished it was spring season already. Luckily, one of our main goals of interviewing various vendors and attendees for our podcast was a huge success. Team Spoken Garden for the win!
Why review a show or event?
Here at Spoken Garden, we will feature one review per month of either a garden center or nursery, an event or show, a book, a website, a product or a tool. We encourage suggestions and recommendations. Also, we would love to collaborate with any of you advertisers out there who would like us to review your products, tools, etc, (sorry, shameless self-promotion). If interested, just contact us via email or one of our social media accounts.
Here we go!
February Review: Tacoma Home and Garden Show
First Impressions of the Show
Two words: Green bags. Every person, as far as the eye could see, proudly carried these bags. Sponsored by Toyota, this home and garden show offered bright green, reusable bags to each passerby. Perfect for stashing all the flyers, business cards, and hummingbird feeders that one could collect made these bags come in quite handy.
Our other impression was this was more of a “home show” than a “garden show.” Even though the event took place in the Tacoma Dome which is a spacious venue, it seemed more geared toward home improvement. However, from the garden show seminars to the show gardens to the “beer” garden, we experienced it all and had a great time.
History of the Show
The show began back in 1983 at the Tacoma Dome. Since then it has steadily grown in size over time as people have become more interested in home improvement projects and gardens over the years. Today, the Tacoma Home and Garden show has become the largest home and garden show in Western Washington.
The Show’s Strengths
1) Vendor Interviews
For both our blog and podcast, interviews were a priority for us since this home and garden show featured vendors aplenty. Vendors including nursery owners, wild bird supply companies, master gardeners, and pollinator professionals were scattered around the Tacoma Dome into organized sections.
Being our first attempt at interviewing anyone in any official capacity, we truly enjoyed each interaction. We had the pleasure of talking to several different people within the garden industry. Each vendor was asked three basic questions regarding their company:
- What does your company do?
- What is the goal of having your booth here?
- Why should the average gardener or homeowner pick your company over any other?
What follows are the six vendors we interviewed and their responses to our interview questions. We hope you enjoy learning about them!
Wild Birds Unlimited –
Gregg, the co-owner, represents the Puyallup and Gig Harbor Stores. To see all their products and find a store near you, you can visit www.wbu.com.
What does your company do? Our motto is “we bring people and nature together.” We focus on wild backyard bird feeding. Our goal is to help people attract any wildlife, but mainly birds to the backyard and enjoy nature up-close. WBU offers many different products and a few are made specifically so squirrels and other rodents can’t eat from the feeders. They are weight sensitive, so a light bird won’t activate the spring mechanism that shuts off food access, but the heavier weight of a squirrel or other critter will activate the mechanism. They also offer unique and really cool hummingbird feeders!
*By the way, full disclosure here, we HAD to purchase one of their hummingbird feeders. It’s already up in our backyard by our kitchen window and it’s getting really high use. So awesome! I am just waiting for the right moment (and decent weather) to get some hummer photographs.
What is the goal of having your booth here? “This is our first show and a way to get the word out that there are stores like this in the area, but also help people answer their bird feeding problems while they are here at the show. See what kind of things people are looking for, too.”
Why should the average gardener or homeowner pick your company over any other? “An area like here around the Puget Sound Area, people are going to go to their local retailer where they will have a small selection of products that might not be the highest quality or be useful for the widest range of customers, where a lot of our products are specific and have a lifetime warranty, like the top-of-the-line squirrel-proof bird feeders, all of our tube-feeders that we carry with our name on it have lifetime warranties, our hummingbird feeders have lifetime warranties. We carry very high-quality products. We do carry some mid-range products as well, but with the high-quality products it eliminates complaints. Like the cheaper hummingbird feeders will use the detachable flowers and you constantly have to find and replace them. They will also use yellow or white flowers which attracts bees, and we are constantly telling people you don’t want the yellow or white flowers, you want the red flowers. We can educate people better than a big-box retailer and also carry the higher quality products.”
Tapestry Farm and Garden-
Tracy, along with her husband, own their local farm and garden in East Olympia,Washington. She is a member of the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association. http://naturestapestrylandscapes.com/index.html
What does your company do? “We grow Japanese Maples, Hostas, rare and unusual perennials, and vegetable starts. All plants are grown and handled organically. We are a small nursery; definitely what you would call a ‘destination nursery’ off the beaten path.”
What is the goal of having your booth here? “To promote the WSNLA, our business, and to get people excited about plants.”
Why should the average gardener or homeowner pick your company over any other? “We are smaller and we don’t have the huge selection of other retailers and growers. You also get to actually talk to a horticulturist versus a seasonal employee who may or may not be well versed in how things grow. We really support organic farming and help people find the right plant for the right place.”
Washington State University Master Gardeners –
Tia and co-volunteer Master Gardeners http://extension.wsu.edu/pierce/mg/
What does your company do? “We help people with a little bit of everything. We help people with their lawns, their gardens, vegetable gardening, house plants, and we diagnose them. We help with fertilization problems, with transplanting; our hands are into a little bit of everything.”
What is the goal of having your booth here? “Our goal is to reach out to the community and bring gardening into our houses. We all like to stay in our houses and we all don’t get out that much, so we like to point out how awesome gardening can be . We are here to help. We are a free service and a non-profit.”
Why should the average gardener or homeowner pick your company over any other? “Each organization specializes in their own thing. The WSU Master Gardeners are a jack-of-all trades. No matter who you talk to someone is going to know something a little different and we all have a wide variety of knowledge. WSU is the Agricultural School in the state of Washington, and we focus a lot on different agricultural aspects. Another organization, like Tilth, is going to focus on the soil, where there is going to be other places that focus just on berry gardening or shrubs. We do it all.”
Bill with Tagro and the City of Tacoma http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/environmentalservices/tagro/
What does your company do? “Tagro is a bio-solid product created at the human waste facility and turned by the processing treatment into the Tagro product itself where we blend sawdust and sand to create the original product which is called the mix or sludge and then turns into topsoil. The same sludge can be also turned into garden soil as well. It can be used in different applications.”
What is the goal of having your booth here? “Our goal is to just get the word out. We don’t put up billboards. We don’t put up big advertisements or signs. This is basically it. It’s community-outreach driven to maintain the process; that it’s organic and to keep it green. This saves the city the finances of sending it out to say eastern Washington. It’s a way to get rid of the product naturally.”
Why should the average gardener or homeowner pick your company over any other? “Tagro deals with the natural end of what it is, the natural waste, human waste, and the process of keeping things green, sustainability.”
All-Seasons Pest Control –
Cory Chantry http://www.allseasonspest.com/
*Disclaimer: Sean ran solo on this interview as there were huge spiders present in this booth’s displays. Like, HUGE spiders. Allison ran away immediately due to her arachnophobia and Sean caught up after the interview.
What does your company do? “General and structural pest control, ornamental tree and shrub spraying, and residential and industrial weed control.”
What is the goal of having your booth here? “Mostly its name recognition and exposure. Just to get our name out there and have people remember that what I do is my passion, as you can see from my insect displays here. It’s meeting people and getting the information out and exposure.”
Why should the average gardener or homeowner pick your company over any other? “Technical depth; we are very serious about what we do, we are very serious about yards. I don’t only collect insect samples, but I also collect plant samples, like Rhododendrons, Japanese Maples; I am very passionately involved about this whole thing. I have been around for 35 years and our whole company is based on integrity and honor. We service Thurston, Pierce, South King County, and Kitsap Counties.”
Pierce County Noxious Weed Control Board
The audio wasn’t the best and it was hard to hear what our interviewee was saying, so we can summarize the benefit of this organization.
The booth-person stated that his organization was one of our state county groups that helps homeowners manage noxious and invasive weeds on their private property. There is no charge for employees to keep different plant species controlled or monitored according to the state and county laws and the plants’ categorized control level. They also consult with landowners on best practices and help plan control strategies.
They had a booth at the show to be visible and let people know they are available to help them, particularly as a resource to educate people.
2) Garden Show seminars
Professional and master gardeners were on stage teaching the audience about their area of expertise in an intimate setting. Topics ranged from vegetable gardening to orchard mason bees to pruning.
Luckily, we caught part of Ciscoe Morris‘ discussion on some of his favorite gardening tools and other show and tell items he discussed with the audience. He fielded questions from the guests with enthusiasm.
While we sat and enjoyed a well-earned IPA in the beer garden, we had the pleasure of listening to a seminar about “Vegetable Gardening in the Rainy Pacific Northwest” with Cyndi Stuart. My husband and I took away a few good ideas about gardening specific to our area of the state.
As you have probably gathered, there was a lot of information packed into one venue. Good thing this home and garden show lasted four days.
Two themed landscape and garden exhibits, located at each entrance point, showcased various exhibitors, local landscape companies and material suppliers. This created some goodwill competition.
Garden experts were on hand at each exhibit available for questions. One exhibit, built and sponsored by Marenakos Rock Center, was titled “The A-B-C’s of How to Get Your Garden Done.” They used a combination of rock-boulders (of course!), hardy evergreen and perennial shrubs, bamboo, flagstone walkways, and a running waterfall. They even used real grass!. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring! (p.s. this was our favorite of the two).
The other was sponsored and built by Olympic Landscape and Irrigation Company titled, “The Italian Job.” In this set-up they recreated an Italian landscape complete with simple lines and form. It did have a Romanesque feel upon walking into their show garden due to the circular brick patio, columnar trees and stone benches. However, they used artificial turf to simulate actual lawn, so the feeling of a real landscape was lost.
Plants for Sale
There was a plant sale next to the seminar area with perennial and annual plants. These plants were grown by local growers and were very high quality. Attendees were buying them off the shelves so fast they couldn’t bring in more to replace them fast enough.
Also, winter perennials geared for each season were prominent. For example, the beautiful winter blooming plant, the Hellebore, was sold there. To read more about the Hellebore, click here.
In one corner of the show floor, a very popular area called, “The Vintage Market,” displayed vintage, antique and shabby chic vendors. In addition, retro pieces of home hardware, furniture, decorations, and even a vintage camping trailer featured various items.
We talked with two artists at work who were using their own chalk paint to distress a dresser. These two hard-working ladies traveled all the way from Utah for the show!
Along the perimeter of the show venue was an area designated “Artist’s Row.” Local painters, photographers, wood-workers, sculptors, and others showcased their skills. All were selling their wares and interacting with the public. We immediately spotted this amazing, elongated multi-colored wood slab that was polished and sealed for the most unique long table you could ever imagine. This, along with the breath-taking paintings and photographs, and chiseled quarried rock sculptures, were reason enough to attend this great event! You could watch live art being created by hand with brushes, coal, or chisel. And the photography was breathtaking with framed landscapes of far off places in very vibrant detail.
Home and Garden Show Final Report
Overall, we enjoyed the show and had a great time. The ability to interact with vendors and meet new people was probably our biggest highlight. However, even though the show was geared more towards home improvement, the variety this show had to offer could not be beat.
Next up, we’re attending the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle with our media passes and look forward to more interviews! Secretly, Allison is most looking forward to all the picture-taking opportunities coming up.
What home or garden show events are coming to your area?
Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading and we hope we inspired you to venture out and check out your local garden show. For more about winter gardening, listen to our podcasts or check out our post about how to prune in the winter. Make sure to watch for next week’s blog post where we will profile the most famous flower in the month of February, the rose.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments anytime, we would love to help.
~ Sean and Allison