Spring Garden Fair or The marriage of two passions

I am many things and wear many hats in my life. My most passionate interests are my garden, and my photography.  They don’t really compete, in fact, its really a good marriage.  The past week I have been able to really combine those passions for the benefit of more than just myself and my own portfolio.

I am an Oregon Master Gardener, our Clackamas Chapter holds a wonderful event each year, The Spring Garden Fair.  The Fair hosts vendors from all over the Pacific Northwest and over 10,000 attend every year in our small town.  In fact, I have been buying my plants at this Fair since we moved here almost 20 years ago … (another post, another day )  I was at the Fairgrounds beginning on Thursday, taking photos for the event.

Thursday was just us, setting things up for the vendors arrival beginning on Friday. I like the buzz on Thursday.  The teamwork and camaraderie   are a pleasure to be a part of.  Its a day of hard work, and sometimes problem solving too.  The photos taken this day are mostly of the site and the people that participate. After a few years of photographing this event, you would think the shots look the same each year, but they really don’t.  There are new faces and improvements to document. And of course the weather is the biggest variable.  This year we were working in a mist that tuned into a drizzle that sent me home a bit soggy.

On Friday things can get a bit … exciting.  I arrived at OMG o’clock to help with setting things up for the vendors arrival.  They begin lining up pretty early, because its a long long day for them as well, unloading their stock.  It was chilly but spirits were high and the mood was light. We (the volunteers) enjoy working together, so the work is not a chore at all.  After my job setting up is complete, I am free to “play”, which in Sharon-speak means it’s time to get out the camera !  I spent the better part of the afternoon walking around taking photos of the vendors as they arrived, the Master Gardeners that were still working on fine-tuning the set-up and of course, the plants!

The plants looked so beautiful, so fresh, it was a feast for the eye! If you live here in the Pacific NW with me, you know what I am talking about. Coming from the 3rd wettest April on record, it was so nice to see the colors, the greens and yellows and reds and ….  well you get the idea !  My own garden is just now waking up, so it was so wonderful to see Hosta’s that were healthy and full, Coleus full of color, Begonia’s in bloom and Sedums with lots of new babies trailing out of the pots.  And the trees! They were all sporting fresh, unfurled leaves, just asking to be taken home and planted.  The Fair is not just about the plants either.  The artwork that these vendors offer was one of a kind and so fresh to look at. My garden has a lot of green, like many PNW gardens.  I depend on some of my garden art to punctuate the green with a sassy red or blue where its needed.  And wind chimes…..  well, there is just no such thing as too many of those, is there?  The sun finally began peeking out late in the day Friday, so the photos of the plants and the wonderful garden art were really beginning to pop.  I left the Fairgrounds eager to return the next day and begin my own shopping … and watch as the weekend would unfold.

Saturday morning is all about the customer buzz.  Arrival is early for the volunteers, time to stretch our legs, wake up and get things in place to welcome our excited crowd.  Sharing an event like this with like-minded customers is very energizing! We have volunteers that have been putting this event on almost since it’s beginning.  The customers begin lining up well before the 9 a.m. opening.  They bring their friends, neighbors and relatives that share the passion for plants.  And their Red Wagons …. to tote their treasured finds. Its really quite cool, to see all the people lined up along the street with their radio flyer wagons, all ages, types and sizes.  There are the red ones, green ones, yellow ones, big, little, and every size in between.  They are empty when the arrive, and bulging / overflowing when they leave.  I began photographing the line around 8:30, amid all the excitement, hot coffee and hats and gloves.  It was overcast and chilly, but that didn’t matter. All that matters when you are waiting is getting in and buying that first plant, from your favorite vendor.

After that first rush is over, about 45 min after the gates open, I took a breath, looked around, and knew why I was there.  The energy is real, and intoxicating.  I spent the rest of Saturday happily walking around, photographing the wagons, the customers and the plants.  I had the chance to talk to many of the vendors and the Fairgoers too.  The nice thing about the camera, it opens doors for me and starts so many conversations.  Saturday afternoon we all left, excited to see what the next day would bring, but also a bit concerned about the frost warning that the weather service posted.

Sunday morning was very chilly, it was hard to believe that we would reach the 70 degrees that they were forecasting for the day.  The excited crowd was smaller, but still very dedicated.  And Sunday host’s a lot of repeat visitors. I have a friend that comes both days to shop, one day with a client of his and the other with his dad. I ran into them several times during my walks around the grounds.  And Sunday is the day for the volunteers families to come out too. My girls and Hubby came out to see me and walk around a bit. They don’t have the garden bug as much as I do, but its nice to have the support!  And the day did indeed reach the  potential of 70 degrees. It was a lovely afternoon, if you could see above the tree line our Mt. Hood was even clearly visible.  Sunday is also the day for some serious plant purchases. I was really good this year tho, and didn’t break the bank like I usually do. My finds included a beautiful Day Breaker Hosta, a cool letter A sedum planter, a wonderful purple double Columbine, some mirrored wind chimes and a string of stainless steel balls to hang from my deck arbor.

The gates closed at 4 p.m. on our 27th Annual Spring Garden Fair.  The remaining work of taking things down took a few hours, but went well since it was such a nice afternoon.  We were tired, but pleased and excited with the work that had been done. And I am sure I am not the only one already looking forward to next years event.

My work didn’t end when I came home. Naturally, I had plants to take care of. I also had over 1000 photos to sort thru and post on our new Facebook Page.  I love sorting thru the images of an event. It brings back memories of the conversations, the connections and the stories of the day.  You can see these pictures on our Facebook page Spring Garden Fair on Facebook .  I have some posted on our Clackamas County Master Gardeners Webpage as well: Spring Garden Fair 2011 

Now its time to sit back and enjoy my garden and the new plants / art I have added this year.  If you need me, I will be in the garden*

* click on the first thumbnail image to open the gallery carousel, to view the captions click  Permalink on the bottom right of the photos. this opens the photos on their own page, allowing you to scroll thru them one at a time and read the descriptions.    


One comment on “Spring Garden Fair or The marriage of two passions

  1. […] May I wrote about the Spring Garden Fair ~ I told the story of our weekend event. This birdcage caught my eye and reminded me of the one I […]


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