It started in 1965, as a fundraiser to maintain the Glide Community Center, when one woman gathered 71 specimens in three days along Buckhorn Road and arranged them in vases and 35 people came to the event.
Now, 54 years later, the Glide Wildflower Show displays more than 600 species of flowers, shrubs, grasses, ferns, lichens and mosses. Additional displays feature noxious weeds, medicinal plants, natural dyes, and photographs of rare and endangered plants. It all happens this Saturday and Sunday at the Glide Community Center.
Organizers say the Wildflower Show has become the largest showcase of wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest, attracting thousands of flower-lovers during the annual two-day event which is traditionally held on the last full weekend in April.
The hundreds of species are gathered by dozens of collecting teams who travel throughout southwest Oregon from the Cascade Mountains to the coast.
Oregon’s changing weather provides each year’s event with a different combination of species in bloom. Each specimen is identified by professional botanists and displayed in vases.
Susan Rudisill, who got involved in the Wildflower Show in 2000, says every year displays are different, but especially this year.
“This year is interesting because of the cold weather and the snow and things are very late and that means there will be some flowers that have already finished blooming, there’ll be some flowers that are usually not found now,” Rudisill said.
In 2002, Rudisill became the art coordinator designing posters and working with different artists to combine original artwork with flowers for a poster design. This year’s poster was done by David Hall of Glide. It’s his seventh promotional poster and he’s excited to be involved again this year.
“We know people that come from Portland, Bend and Grants Pass, and for the area in Douglas County, it has as many wildflowers as any place in the country,” Hall said.
Rudisill is also one of about a hundred volunteers who collect species for the show.
“The most remarkable thing about it, in my mind, is the incredible community of people that come together every year to make it happen,” Rudisill said. “People find their niche and come back.”
Collectors have been out this week gathering the plants and taking great care to make sure the flowers still look fresh at the show this weekend.
“It’s a pretty spectacular display of an amazing variety of plants that we have growing,”Rudisill said. “It’s pretty fascinating just to find out what all the different plants are.”
Several special presentations are scheduled Saturday and Sunday, with topics from landscaping with native species, mushrooms, the Oregon Floral Project and edible and medicinal uses of plants. Times and information about each presentation can be found on the website at glidewildflowershow.org.
Photographer’s hour will be from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Admission is a suggested $3 donation.