Compost Confidential

Sleepless in Seattle

Seattle is one of my favorite cities, and the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, is without a doubt, my favorite show if its kind. So when the idea of showcasing a flower and garden show “behind the scenes” came up for us in season two, we knew exactly where we were heading.

"Camera shooter" David Pennington is enjoying the view

"Camera shooter" David Pennington is enjoying the view

I knew it was going to be a good week for us in Seattle when we arrived on a glorious warm sunny, February morning. What does a film crew do with a moment like this, a little time to burn and a producer willing to splurge a bit to capture the essence of such a rare day? Why – rent a helicopter, of course! So off we went, with the doors removed for the best viewing experience, we donned our gloves and jackets and circled the city with cameras rolling for over an hour. Seattle is beautiful from any perspective, but if you ever have the chance to see it from above, do!

Joe, Carl, and David back on solid ground!

Joe, Carl, and David back on solid ground!

Once we came back to earth, it was time to get our game faces on. It was going to be a long and very busy week. For anyone who has ever been to a major flower show like this, you know it’s a big production. To the visitor, everything is so flawless; we sometimes fail to realize it doesn’t just magically happen. For three days prior to the show’s open, a dramatic transformation takes place, from bare concrete floors, to a wonderland of spectacular garden displays, retail shops and a superstar lineup of speakers. What we wanted to bring to the viewer was everything you don’t see that gets it to that point of perfection when the crowds storm the floor on opening day.

With camera gear in hand, we arrived on the show floor around mid-afternoon on the Saturday before Wednesday’s open. We immediately began filming so as to start capturing the dramatic transformation. On this opening day for set up, it was like a major construction site, with the constant beep, beep, beep of skid steers, and dump trucks backing up and moving about the floor, all while hundreds of workers scurried about, somehow managing to avoid being run over in the process. The place was crazy wild!

Here I am with the youngest winning female designer Courtney Goetz

Here I am with the youngest winning female designer Courtney Goetz

Weeks before arriving, we’d identified several gardens we wanted to follow for this episode, mainly because of the stories behind them. One such garden was that of the youngest female designer in the history of the show: Courtney Goetz. At all of 17, she had charm, charisma, and an uber cool design that oozed sustainability to a new generation. She was as articulate and poised as any veteran designer three times her age. We knew we had something with Courtney, so we followed her story all the way through. And good thing we did; she took home several ribbons for her inspiring and innovative work and we appreciated her vision and leadership on behalf of this important generation.

Joe with Trina and Graham Kerr

Joe with Trina and Graham Kerr

Another highlight of the show for me was having the chance to meet and share the stage with one of my childhood heroes and world’s most famous TV chef, the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr. In recent years, he’s become a passionate gardener and he’s just as enthusiastic with his new love as he’s ever been with cooking. This man is well up in years now, yet his energy and wit has yet to subside. And he’s quick to give credit to his lifelong partner and lovely wife, Trina.

Upon learning that we’d be speaking together, I sent Graham an email to introduce myself and asked if we could chat by phone to talk about our presentation. To my surprise, a day later, Graham Kerr was on the line–he called me! With a shared love of gardening and food, we talked like long lost friends, for over an hour! That was the start of many lengthy conversations and a budding new friendship. Since then, the crew and I have been to his house, cooked with him and built a story around his new love of gardening, which you’ll see later this year in episode 216.

Nathan and Joe with Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet

Nathan and Joe with Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet

The episode was a lot of fun yet exhausting to produce, and I don’t think my crew has ever spent so much time capturing so much material for just one episode. As usual, a lot of great content didn’t make it into the show. Hopefully, our Behind the Scenes episode will inspire you to see the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in person. If you’ve never been, there’s no substitute for seeing it firsthand!

 

 

“Watch Episode 205: Behind the Scenes of the Seattle Garden Show”

About

Joe Lamp'l is the Host and Executive Producer of the award winning PBS television series Growing A Greener World. Off camera, Joe dedicates his time to promoting sustainability through his popular books, Compost Confidential blog, podcast series, and nationally syndicated newspaper columns. Follow Joe on Google+

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