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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inland Empire Gardener’s Expo sets roots for 23rd year; Ciscoe Morris features speaker, vendor

With summer just around the corner, gardeners from across the Pacific Northwest are grabbing their spades and carting their wheelbarrows over to Spokane for the 2024 Inland Empire Gardener’s Expo.

With over 300 vendors, four seminars, 15 live musical acts and 10 food trucks, this garden expo will be blooming with amusement.

“It’s just exploded because of word of mouth … I’ve heard people talking at the expo on the phone to a friend and say, ‘You’ve got to get down here, you’re not going to believe it,’ ” said ViAnn Meyer, the president of the Inland Empire Gardeners Club.

One of this year’s seminars will be hosted by Seattle-based popular garden expert Ciscoe Morris.

“I love going over there and seeing everybody in the Inland Empire Gardeners Club … They’re just a bunch of folks that are really enthusiastic about gardening and nature,” Morris said.

At 1 p.m., Morris will be giving a talk called “Hummingbird Madness.” These birds are “fascinating and very territorial … they do a lot of things people don’t expect,” said Morris, who is known for his TV and radio programs, “Northwest Home and Garden Show,” hosted by Jeff Probst, and “Gardening with Ciscoe.”

Listeners will learn that “you really want hummingbirds in your garden, and they’ll learn a lot about them at the same time they’re learning how to attract them.”

Morris will also be at the expo as a vendor. At his booth, visitors can buy a signed copy of his new book “Oh, La La! Homegrown Stories, Helpful Tips and Garden Wisdom,” in a nod to Morris’ catch phrase, “Oh la la!”

“It’s short stories about gardening that are supposed to teach you about gardening, but from my gardening experiences, and hopefully you’ll laugh your head off when you read the stories,” Morris said with a laugh.

Meyers is looking forward to Morris’ visit.

“He’s just like he seems in person, he’s just a sweetheart,” Meyers said. “And he loves his dogs!”

According to Garden Expo leaders, as of last year, the Spokane Garden Expo became the largest gardening event in the Inland Northwest with over 250 vendors and over 15,000 people in attendance. However, this year will surpass last year with 310 vendors signed up and over 20,000 people expected to attend.

“I probably spend about six months planning this event,” said Meyer, going into detail about the set up and the gathering of vendors for such a large-scale event. “I have 432 spaces to fill and this year we have more vendors signed up than we ever have before.”

“When we first started this, we sent out hundreds of letters asking vendors if they wanted to be at the garden expo, but now it’s like the word’s out and people call us!”

Although finding vendors has gotten easier over the years, according to Meyers there is still a great deal of work that goes into making this one-day expo fun for everyone.

Meyers had to make room for three different food areas in the expo in order to fit “10 different food trucks” with all kinds of food options, including “ice cream, pretzels right out of the oven, homemade donuts, pies.”

One of the vendors is Ahtanum Berry Patch and Bakery, “a bakery all the way from Yakima,” Meyers said. “Last year, they were at the expo for the first time, and we tried the huckleberry cobbler. It was the best cobbler I ever had in my life.”

Along with plenty of food vendors and five music areas, Meyers mentioned “I’ve got 50 different musical acts that are going to be performing throughout the day.”

For the gardeners hoping to hone their skills and learn new techniques, there will be four seminars and four demonstrations inside the Spokane Community College Lair Building.

There are other vendors at the expo hoping to share their knowledge, including workers from the Woodland Park Zoo who will be promoting their new program, “Hello Pollinators, Goodbye Pests.”

“So, you’ve got your talks, you’ve got good food … you’ve got your plants, you’ve got your music … and it’s all free,” Meyer said. “It’s a gardener’s Disneyland. It’s everything a gardener could want in just a single day.”