carlyn yandle/for metro vancouver


Displays of outdoor rooms and zen gardens have us dreaming of sunnier days ahead.

The annual BC Home and Garden Show has descended on Vancouver, and if you’ve got visions of inflatable hot tubs and dicer-slicer demos swirling in your head, you’re not alone.

Massive trade shows (this one boasts over 400 exhibitors) in a massive, echo-y venue (the newly re-inflated BC Place) have a way of sucking the life out of unfocused folks who dare step through the airlock entrances.

If you don’t have a plan or an area of interest, you will spend your time wandering aimlessly, fending off offers of pamphlets. You will spend most your time in a half-hearted attempt to find a coffee bar or a washroom on your exhibit map, and when you do, it will be furthest from where you’re standing.

But for those of us dying for some sign that winter is largely over, there is a strong magnetic pull into the place at this time of year. The spring home show is as sure a sign as crocuses piercing through the soggy soil that we may be well and truly over the worst part.

This is exactly the appeal of the spring home show. Sure, it’s largely about renos and interior decor, but the eye candy to me at this time of year is all about gardening, from the inspiring displays of private zen retreats to big ol’ barbecue party hubs.

This is big show-off time for the BC Landscape & Nursery Association, and a chance for the rest of us to wander through its exhibits, dreaming of transforming our tiny balconies or patios into luxurious outdoor rooms straight out of the Four Seasons Wailea, Maui, or into a never-serious cocktail corner, complete with thatched-roof wet bar, wall of live bamboo, strings of tiki lamps and hidden outdoor speakers where we will play reggae music on long, warm afternoons.

This is not about our current reality, but possibility — of sun, fresh air, a regular social life, luxurious unproductive time. Dream on.

•BC Home and Garden Show, BC Place, Thursday and Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,

•Standouts: two “design pods” within the feature garden displays, complete with “zen spaces” and dotted with gardening experts ready for any question.

•Tickets: $13 per day per adult, or $12 online(print out your tickets and take them to the show).

Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks ( She dwells on urban-home issues every Thursday in Metro.