2014 Spring Flower & Garden Shows
BUT, last weekend was the first round of spring – really mid-winter – New England flower shows. The Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show as well as the Connecticut Spring Flower & Garden show were blessed with fine weather for their 4-day runs and attendance at both shows appeared heavy on the days when we were there.
In Providence, the Rhode Island show’s theme was “Vintage Gardens” which featured antique and classic automobiles as unique centerpieces in each display garden. I overheard a few grumbles that the cars distracted from the horticulture. I disagree. The cars were all in tip-top shape and were skillfully integrated into each garden’s design, creating interesting and novel exhibitions of gardening excellence.
The sand sculptors were back again this year and, following the show theme, carved a full sized old-timey automobile out of damp sand. This isn’t strictly horticulture either but it has become a popular feature at the show guessing by the number of visitors taking photos. I liked it, too.
I also liked a stylish entry that showcased an elegant vintage Art Deco wedding table with centerpieces, place settings and fine china set in a classy garden during the Roaring Twenties.
Our Friday lecture was titled “Discovering Easy-Care Roses” where we explored sustainable, winter hardy and attractive rose varieties that will flourish in a pesticide-free environment. We explained the process of selecting disease-resistant roses that can thrive in New England gardens and identified many easy-care roses currently available. This thoughtful process of discovery eliminates much of the frustration experienced by home gardeners by planting the right roses in the right gardens. Judging by the size of the audience, there was a great deal of interest in the program and we signed quite a few books at the end.
On Saturday, we conducted a much different program called “The Art of Pruning Roses.” I brought an overgrown potted rose bush that I dug out of the snow in the winter crib and demonstrated easy-to-follow steps that demystified rose pruning. The lively audience was very curious about pruning and many had felt that pruning was some form of alchemy and that they would destroy a rose with poor pruning. Not so. Lots of Q and A during and after the demo.
The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show was held in the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Their 2014 theme was “Backyard Paradise” and it was indeed a paradise. This convention center is really, really big with three acres of convention space and the huge main show floor was packed with over 300 booths on one side and gorgeous gardens on the other. Our favorite was a full-size, nicely landscaped bocce court.
We conducted our most popular program, “Six Simple Steps to Successful Rose Gardening” twice on Sunday. Home gardeners want to grow roses and this program shows then how. This is our favorite program and regardless of the number of times we have presented it, it never gets old.
The next stop on the show circuit is the Boston Flower & Garden Show in two weeks and our “David Austin’s English Roses for New England Gardens” is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 at 12:30. We have updated this program with lush photos of new 2014 Austin introductions as well as many of the old Austin favorites.
Spring (and winter) flower shows come at just the right time, when the gardening spirit is rising in anticipation for the coming season. However, the price we pay for this vernal hope is this persistently cold, dark, dreary, dank, desolate, and dismal winter. Nevertheless, days are growing longer and spring will not be denied, just delayed.