By the time the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle rolls around in late February, Pacific Northwesterners are half-mad with spring fever.

Not that Portland's smaller but homier Yard, Garden & Patio Show, which took place two weekends ago, didn't whet the collective gardening appetite for spring. But the Seattle show is the second-largest garden show in the US and draws visitors from all over the country, particularly for its adventurous display gardens and top-notch free lectures.

Novice and experienced gardeners alike have been taking the trip up to Seattle for the five-day show since it was born in 1989. Whether you make it a day trip or a long weekend, plan on arriving early and staying late, if you can, to soak up maximum floral delight and inspiration.

Why Go?

* The largest roster of free horticultural seminars of any garden show in the world. Seriously great speakers this year include wickedly funny author and designer Thomas Hobbs on "transcendent plantings;" Therese Ciesinsky on women in the garden from Organic Gardening Magazine; NYT best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart (more on her book on this blog); the delightful Tovah Martin, author of books on houseplants and terrariums; and many many more. There is an especially rich group of speakers on vegetable and edible gardening including Barbara Damrosch, Teresa O'Connor, Erica Strauss, Marianne Binetti, Lorene Edwards-Forkner, cookbook author Diane Morgan and more. 

* Hundreds of exhibitors offering gardening tools and accessories, hand-made garden-related art and crafts, specialty foods, garden furniture and organic products for the garden, as well as a huge plant market with nurseries from all over the Pacific Northwest including Tillandsia and orchid specialists, bulb and rare plant growers, and squidzillions of perennial, shrub and tree retailers

 * Actually inspiring display gardens designed and executed by some of the PNW's top designers and landscape contractors.

WHAT: Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2013

WHEN: Wed February 20, 2013 to Sunday February 24, 2013. Hours: Wed to Sat 9 am to 8 pm and Sunday 9 am to 6 pm

WHERE:  Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101Seattle, WA

COST/TICKETS: Early Bird, One-Day tickets purchased before February 20 (online, by phone or at retailer) will save you $4 per ticket ($16 for adult). Buy tickets here in advance or purchase at the door on show day for $20 (adult ticket). Multi-day, half-day, group and youth tickets and passes are also available. For more information, call 253-756-2121.

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