Snow blankets the ground in Seattle – file this one under “inconvenient crazy weather” – but inside the Washington State Convention Center at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show’s PlayGarden harvest is in high season!!!
Wibur the pig (see humble charmer above), Charlotte, and their barnyard friends from literature’s classic Charlotte’s Web are mixing it up and things are going to get messy, hopefully!. Planting, crafting, playacting, and educational opportunities abound with bushels of real vegetables, wriggly worms, art projects, and playacting, with lots of gen-U-ine, good clean dirt. Did I mention the live bunnies, rabbits and real world tractor? A 15-foot spider web declaring Charlotte’s save-the-day message SOME PIG hangs high over the barnyard Sprout Stage where readings and performances will take place throughout the show’s 5-day run. Check link for scheduled performance times… but be assured something will always be going one – what little one do you know that can resist an impromptu performance?!!?
The 5,000 square foot interactive activity area for kids (of all ages and abilities) and their parents is offered in partnership with the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden, a real world indoor/outdoor play space where “children of all abilities can play outdoors and stretch their imaginations and independence: kids on two feet, kids with walkers, kids in wheelchairs, kids who communicate differently.”
The ambitious and totally charming exhibit is sponsored by US Bank and designed by Seattle garden designer Wendy Welch assisted by an able army of helpers with mad skills in carpentry, production and other theatrical arts. Welch spent years in theater before turning her energy, skills and engagement to horticulture in pursuit of a more “stable career path,” (ahem)… Welch, in her theatrical/design/all-things-gardening best, has produced a wonderful thing assisted by countless area businesses, professionals, and suppliers who have donated their time and products to fabricate the display.
I love Charlotte’s Web. This childhood classic figured prominently in our family’s history. Well into high school (and beyond) my daughter’s beloved stuff pig, “Wilbur,” accompanied us on every family vacation and adventure. Poor “Wilb”, as we now refer to him; his current resting space is under the bed in the guestroom with other fondly held artifacts of growing up. Today my daughter is a kindergarten teacher in the Federal Way school district, working with an integrated classroom and kids of all abilities. These days she spins tales of wonder, I’m sure inspired by those she first learned through E.B. White’s delightful narrative about a barnyard community that works together to save one of their own.
I REALLY love the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden and have written about the organization many times. I got to visit a little of my own past as I volunteered cutting out veggies, plantings (1,000’s!!!!) of bulbs and offering support wherever needed on this spectacular exhibit. What a delight and pleasure it was to get thoroughly filthy during a long boring winter away from the garden in my own backyard. The frenetic pace and “opening day” anticipation and PUSH brought back vivid memories of my own garden show adventures. Wanna know an inside secret? Wilbur’s prize winning award which he so humbly sports is my gold medal from my 2003 display garden. I think it’s quite handsome and I’m honored to help.
I know the weather could be better… but really, get yourself to the PlayGarden. Slippery streets and chill temperatures will melt away in the palpable warmth and goodwill of Charlotte’s barnyard. The show runs today through Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center. Ticket information here.