The theme of this year’s Northwest Flower & Garden Festival was “Gardens of the World,” and it’s the first year we’ve ever done a theme. When I think about the whole world, I think about what’s in my own backyard first and expand my thoughts from there. When I heard this year’s theme, I immediately thought, What’s more applicable than the world I’m in right now? Sure, it can be really cool to go in and look at a Japanese-style garden, but if you’re not a master gardener, it’s far more helpful to focus on the plants that grow well in our own environment than it is to pick out something tropical or exotic that’ll die without a lot of specialized knowledge and care.
Our theme—Building Your Pacific Northwest Garden—was born from that idea, and it was backed up by the fact that Dunn DIY (and our audience) is local. When you’re building things for the outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, you’re always going to want to think about the damp, rainy weather and using lumber and stains and finishes that work well in a wet environment. Pairing that type of thinking with the natural flora and fauna proved to be such a great combination.
Of all the projects we had in this year’s booth, my favorite was the mason bee beehive. It always seems to work out that the projects requiring the most amount of research become my favorite precisely because I learn so much more and all that extra time makes me more invested and connected. With this year’s theme revolving around native plants and animals, I was surprised to learn just how important mason bees are to our area. In fact, the resources I found that were most helpful turned out to be resources that were located in Western Washington—I found a local company that sells mason bees to help populate local gardens and farms. There’s something relieving about finding trustworthy information you know applies to you and your area.
Beyond that, I don’t exactly have a green thumb. The mason bee beehive was a great way for me to create something accessible, achievable, and environmentally conscious without having to worry about taking on a whole hive of honeybees, or in my case, just keeping a plant alive. This project was simple in size and scope, which is really awesome, especially considering the impact it has on its surroundings.
The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival is always a wonderful opportunity to see stunning landscapes and pick up new project inspiration, but this year was particularly special because it gave me a new appreciation for the things that are growing all around us. Doing all the research for this year’s festival and learning so much more about pollinators has made me reconsider how I garden. It has encouraged me to not just grow vegetables as something that are enjoyable to eat or flowers as something that are beautiful to look at, but to cultivate these things as opportunities to draw in butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and even bats—and care for my surroundings in a new way. Until next year!