2019 Show Judges

Each annual Northwest Flower & Garden Festival brings us an opportunity to select three prestigious individuals from the landscape design and horticulture industry to come together and award the medals to each show garden, to vote on the coveted Founder’s Cup Award (Best in Show), and to determine the American Horticulture Society Environmental Award winner. These judges will also be the speakers in the Show’s acclaimed seminar series.

Without further ado, here are the 2019 Northwest Flower & Garden Show Judges!

Charles Birnbaum



Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, is the president, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Prior to creating TCLF, Birnbaum spent fifteen years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI) and a decade in private practice in New York City, with a focus on landscape preservation and urban design. One of his major projects is the Web-based initiative What’s Out There (a searchable database of the nation’s designed landscape heritage). He has authored and edited numerous publications, including the Modern Landscapes: Transition and Transformation series (Princeton Architectural Press, Volumes printed in 2012 and 2014), Shaping the American Landscape (UVA Press, 2009), Design with Culture: Claiming America’s Landscape Heritage (UVA Press 2005), and Preserving Modern Landscape Architecture (1999). In 1995, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) awarded the HLI the President's Award of Excellence. In 1996, the ASLA inducted Birnbaum as a Fellow of the Society. He served as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In 2008 the ASLA awarded him the Alfred B. LaGasse Medal, followed by the President’s Medal in 2009. In 2017, Birnbaum received the ASLA Medal, the Society's highest award. Birnbaum is currently a Visiting Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning + Preservation.

Charles will be giving 2 seminars at the show:

  • Modern Landscape Architecture: Transition and Transformation
    Wednesday, February 20 at 10:30 am / Rainier Room / Book signing to follow

  • Public Visibility, Value and Engagement in our Shared Landscape Heritage
    Thursday, February 21 at 11:45 am / Rainier Room / Book signing to follow

Suzanne Arca



Suzanne Arca boasts nearly 40 years of expertise in designing, building and maintaining landscapes and providing vision to residential and commercial property owners. With a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley, Arca is a Green-certified Licensed Design and Build Landscape Contractor serving residential, business and municipal customers in the East Bay and beyond. Arca has taught for over 20 years as an Instructor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, University of California Extension, and in the Landscape Horticulture Department, Merritt College, as well as a guest Lecturer for garden clubs, nurseries, and horticultural events, and a mentor for up-and-coming designers. She has been recognized with awards including the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) International Landscape Designer of the Year (2011), the Gold Medal for Residential Design and Best in Show from the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA). Arca Design was most recently named Best of Oakland and the East Bay, 2018, by readers of Oakland Magazine.

Suzanne will be giving 2 seminars at the show:

  • The Garden as a Tapestry
    Wednesday, February 20 at 11:45 am / Rainier Room
  • The Evolution of a Garden
    Thursday, February 21 at 10:30 am / Rainier Room

William McNamara



William A. McNamara, President and Executive Director of Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, California, has devoted his career to discovering, researching, protecting, and promoting plants in North America and abroad. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975 with an English degree he spent a year visiting gardens and botanizing in remote natural areas around the globe, discovering that the flora of Asia that most captivated him. McNamara settled in Sonoma, California, where he established Con Mara Gardens, a residential landscape contracting business that he successfully ran for 16 years. In 1987, he became an assistant director at Quarryhill Botanical Garden, a private research garden in Glen Ellen, California, that specializes in displaying plants from temperate East Asia. McNamara rose through the ranks, becoming director in 1994, and today he is its executive director and president. In 2005 he earned a Masters degree in conservation biology at Sonoma State University. Bill McNamara has been honored with two of the top three awards in the field of Horticulture in 2017— the Veitch Memorial Medal from England's Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticulture Society (AHS). Bill had previously received the Award of Excellence from the National Garden Clubs in 2013, the California Horticultural Society Annual Award in 2012, the Scott Medal and Award from the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in 2010, and the Garden Club of America’s Eloise Payne Luquer Medal in 2009.

William will be giving 2 seminars at the show:

  • How the Modern Rose Came to Be: The Unique Influence of China’s Wild Roses
    Wednesday, February 20 at 1:00 pm / Rainier Room

  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: The Trials and Tribulations of Plant Hunting
    Thursday, February 21 at 1:00 pm / Rainier Room

Our three Show Judges will headline an amazing roster of speakers in our acclaimed Seminar Series. Your ticket to the Show includes all Seminars for FREE! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram to see the latest and greatest updates from the team behind one of the largest Flower & Garden Shows in the world.