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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Garden Expo 2004 on Saturday

The brochure for Saturday’s Garden Expo 2004 describes the fifth annual event as “an all-you-could want gardening buffet … cooked up by The Inland Empire Gardeners.”

With some 200 vendors from horticultural organizations to plant sellers, home crafters and fine artists — as well as a dozen free seminars and demonstrations — TIEG has prepared quite a stew. “A show for gardeners by gardeners,” organizers say, all at Spokane Community College’s Lair Auditorium.

The expo again features some big names in Northwest gardening circles, including Spokane TV personality Phyllis Stephens. Stan Urmann of Riley Creek Blueberry Farm in Laclede, Idaho, returns to talk about growing blueberries.

“He’s a really funny speaker,” says expo manager Chris Sheppard. At last year’s event, he spoke to a standing-room-only audience.

The event will also score a first this year: its initial display garden. The Inland Northwest Garden Railroad Society will assemble a 10-by-20-foot garden complete with a model railroad and live miniature conifers and other tiny plants, all to scale with the train. “That’s a really big hobby,” Sheppard says of railroad gardens.

Popular returning vendors include Naylor Creek Nursery, out of Chimacum, Wash., with unique perennials and shade plants; Coeur d’Alene’s Wandering Willow, which sold out of its willow trellises and chairs last year; and Fancy Fronds Nursery from Gold Bar, Wash., which sells a variety of hardy ferns that grow well in the Inland Northwest.

“We have a lot of the little mom-and-pop businesses, too,” Sheppard says.

The expo began in 1999 with 23 vendors and 400 visitors overflowing the Northeast Community Center. The event then moved to SCC, growing each year and attracting an estimated 10,000 people last spring.

“We call it Bloomsday for gardeners because most people go down there and spend the whole day,” Sheppard says. “There’s so much to see.”

SCC’s Big Foot Cafe will be open for breakfast and lunch. The Greenery, the horticulture department’s greenhouse across campus from the Lair, will be selling plants grown by students.

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