2023 NW Flower & Garden Festival – Flower Show Helpers Needed

Flower Show Helpers Needed

The 2023 NW Flower and Garden Festival is fast approaching. We are in need of YOU to help us build our 875 sq ft orchid garden.

I have broken out each day into 3-hour shifts to make things easier. Feel free to sign up for one or more shifts as your time allows.

If you would like to sign-up, please send an email to FGS@NWOS.ORG with your requested shift(s) and contact information.

“Setup” workpasses – for those of you who sign up to help us build or teardown the garden, you can obtain a “Workpass” from the WSCC door guards as you enter the Show floor (4th floor) Convention Center. The same goes if you enter via the Hand-Carried Freight elevator entrance in the Main parking garage between Pike and Seneca streets.

“Show” wristbands – for those of you who sign up to work a shift during the Show (Feb 15- 19), your color-coded wristbands (unique for each day) will be available at the Will-Call window on the 4th floor. From the Pike Street entrance, follow the escalator signs up to the 4th floor Atrium, turn left to see the “Will-Call” window. Just give your Name and “NWOS” to get your envelope. Your envelope will contain all of the wristbands needed to enter each day that you signed up to work.

So, make sure you sign up!

Below are the days and shifts that need a few more helpers. The minimum age allowed on the floor during Setup and Teardown is 16 and no pets.

Moss Collection: Location – Grantham’s in Lake Forest Park

Thursday, February 9– We need at least 5 people for this event. A small group of us will meet at the Granthams’ for breakfast. From there we will carpool to property owned by the Granthams’ out near Monroe. Moss will be collected in sheets from the ground, from fallen tree trunks, and tree limbs. Moss will be placed in plastic tubs and loaded into Joff’s van.

After collecting for about 3 hours or until the van is full, we will meet for a late lunch at a local Mexican or Thai restaurant in downtown Monroe, and then head back home. The moss will be used as ground cover and to hide orchid/plant pot rims in the garden.

  • 9 am to 3 pm

Garden Build: Location – Washington State Convention Center

Saturday, February 11– This is “heavy lifting” day. Bring gloves and dress in layers. Our first setup day consists of measuring out the garden’s perimeter walls, placing the stone benches, and erecting the mountain of wood pallets and pre-built wood superstructure. Large irregular slate pieces will be affixed to the wood superstructure with 3-inch-long screws through large metal washers along the slate edges to hold the pieces in place. If you have a portable electric drill with a torx head for driving the screws, we could use you and your drill today. Also, people with rakes or shovels are welcome. Anyone willing to show will be put to work. We will have Horticulture students again helping us from Lake Washington Technical College.

Stones, that are already on pallets, will be set within the garden area with the help of a forklift. While that is taking place, a low wall of granite “tumbled cobble” bricks will be set along the garden’s perimeter. This wall will only be 3-bricks tall (about 18 -inches), so it will be built quickly given enough helpers. A dry creek bed of oval stones will be laid near the base of the mountain. Then the entire garden will be filled with sawdust.

  • 9 am to 7 pm

Sunday, February 12 Your orchids must arrive today. Your orchids will be grouped by flower color, groupings will be labeled with orchid type and name, and then stored on temporary staging and shelving that will surround the garden. Some larger orchids may be placed today, but most will get placed within the garden on Monday.

Foliage plants from the Woodland Park Zoo arrive at 11 am. Foliage plants are grouped and placed at various locations within the garden, and then “planted” within the garden’s sawdust.

  • 9 am to 6 pm

Monday, February 13 – “The Grind”

Orchids — Volunteer Park and UW Botany – arrive today.

Orchids are grouped by color, arranged to look like a giant plant, and placed within the garden with the top 1-inch of each pot showing. Moss sheets will be placed around the plants and over the pots to help “hide” those tops. Technically, we can’t have any pots showing unless they are ceramic and part of the garden. So, the moss will help us in that regard.

Orchids will be placed on the mountain and draped or hung along the rock wall. Some trailing foliage plants will be placed here as well.

LED ground lights and spots will be placed around and throughout the garden to highlight specific plants and structures.

Foliage plants need to be watered and the bricks of our perimeter walls lightly sprayed with water to clean away dirt and debris.

  • 9 am to 12 am

Tuesday, February 14 – This is “finishing touches” day. Moss is placed to hide any exposed pots and rims, plant signs adjusted to face towards the viewing Public, and the foliage cleaned up for judging.

  • 7 am to 12 pm

Festival Shifts

  • If you have a name badge, please try to wear it. If you don’t, you can request one from Robert Culver.
  • We will have NWOS aprons for you to wear.
  • We will have a postcard about the NWOS for you to hand out to people.

Wednesday, February 15 – This first day is usually the busiest with Day 4 (Saturday) being the second busiest. Volunteers will help answer common orchid questions, ask people not to sit on the wall, not step into the garden, and not to touch the orchid flowers. There will be small signs informing viewers of these points around the garden wall, but some people need to be reminded.

You may also be asked to give a “hint” as to where our “Treasure Hunt” item is hidden – in every garden an item is hidden for children (of all ages) to locate and note on a form. The completed form can be exchanged for a 4-inch blooming plant at the entry to the Skybridge. This treasure hunt helps engage young ones supposedly while their families admire the gardens.

If you are asked a question, you don’t know how to answer, there will be other members present each shift you can point to for help.

Volunteering during the Festival is also a fantastic way to see the rest of the show and visit the orchid vendors. You may do this after or before your shift. There may also be periodic breaks during your shift if enough people sign up to help.

  • 12 pm to 8 pm

Thursday, February 16 – Foot traffic will start out busy in the morning and will slow down towards the afternoon. In years past, Thu and Fri have had many school and tour groups viewing the Festival.

  • 9 am to 8 pm

Friday, February 17 – Like Thursday, foot traffic will be heaviest in the morning and tapering towards early afternoon. Then a surge of people around 5 pm onward due to the lower ticket price.

  • 12 pm to 8 pm

Saturday, February 18 – This is probably the second busiest day next to Wednesday, especially if the weather outside is sunny. Foot traffic will slow down around 3 pm.

  • 12 pm to 8 pm

Sunday, February 19 – This is the final day and foot traffic starts out slow and gradually builds toward the show’s end. The bargain hunters appear hoping for special pricing deals in the Plant Marketplace. Don’t be surprised if you are asked “what plants we will be throwing away” at the Festival’s end. The answer is “none”. All orchids are owned by our members and the foliage belongs to the Zoo.

  • 12 pm to 6 pm


Sunday, February 19

All orchids are removed from the garden. The plants are grouped by their owner and placed into owner-marked boxes and trays. Hopefully, each owner marked “each of their plant’s pots (boxes and trays too) with their name or initials on blue painters’ tape” before the start. Each plant is checked against the “list the owner made previously” to verify the correct plant is going home with its proper owner.

Plant owners take their charges home, or have previously made arrangements with others tearing down to transport their plants to the February General Meeting on Monday Feb 20. (IF the NWOS Board voted to move the meeting, that is.)

Moss is removed and bagged. Foliage plants and the bagged moss are moved to their “staging area” for later pick-up on Monday by the Zoo. Plants from Volunteer Park and UW Botany are set aside in their “staging area” for pick up on Monday. Wood pallets for the stone bricks are unearthed and the stone bricks can be cleaned of debris stacked on their pallets.

  • 6 pm to 9 pm

Monday, February 20

Volunteer Park and UW Botany pick up their plants in the morning. The Zoo retrieves their foliage plants as well.

Slate pieces are removed from the mountain’s superstructure and placed on their pallets. Again, members with cordless drills with a torx head are most welcome. Any remaining wall bricks are cleaned of debris and placed on their pallets. The garden area is cleaned up of debris. Trucks are loaded with the garden’s superstructure, or the debris taken to the dumpsters on the Loading Dock.

In years past, we have finished dismantling and loading all vehicles, as well as cleaning up our space by 2 or 3 pm. Hopefully, we will do that again, with enough helpers.

  • 9 am to 6pm

NOTE: The orchids purchased by the society will be at the February 25 Meeting to help the Society recoup its costs and available during the auction.

* Orchid Vendors *

There are two orchid vendors plying their wares at the NW Flower & Garden Festival this year — Emerald City Orchids (Booth 2228) and Andy’s Orchids (Booth 2134). Both of these vendors are found in the “Plant Marketplace” area directly ahead as you exit the Skybridge. Just look for the “Orchids” banner hanging nearby.

Sign Up to Help

As you can see, there are many tasks where we need helpers like YOU to build our garden, staff it during the Festival, and even to help dismantle it. We can use help from all of you.

Sign-up sheets can be found at the December and January General Meeting. You may also sign up by sending an email to FGS@NWOS.ORG with your name, contact information, and requested work shifts. Someone will get back to you quickly.

Any questions, talk to Joe, Ben, Joff, or Robert at the Meeting or send us an email at FGS@NWOS.ORG.