Henry Homeyer: Flower shows to get into spring swing

By Henry Homeyer
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

In Lewis Carroll’s poem, The Jabberwocky, the hero exalts, after killing the ferocious mythical beast, “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” That’s the way I feel when I think about the upcoming spring flowers shows. Thinking about the shows I am known to exclaim, “Oh Boy!” at random moments, such as while cooking dinner. I know I’ll get to one or more events and suggest you do too.

The first of the New England shows this year is in Hartford, Conn., at the Connecticut Convention Center from Feb. 20 to 23. The show is vast: nearly 3 acres of displays with 300 booths selling fresh flowers, plants, herbs, bulbs, seeds, gardening books, garden equipment and more. There are competitions for flower arranging and potted plants, as well.

A garden at a past show in Hartford, CT.

The theme this year is Connecticut Springs into Earth Day. Many fine gardens are built for the show. In addition to that, there are over 80 hours of workshops, slide shows and lectures where you can learn useful information for your own garden.

The Philadelphia Show, a bit of travel for New Englanders, is one of the most impressive. As always it is at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, held this year from Feb. 29 to March 8. The theme this year is Riviera Holiday.

With about 10 acres of floor space, the show is hard to view all in one day. I recommend going mid-week when there are smaller crowds, and getting there early. It’s an expensive show – adult tickets are $42 in advance, $48 at the door – so you may want to try to pack it all in during one day, or relax and do it in two. Doors open at 10am most days, and the show closes at 9 p.m. most days.

The next show is Boston, March 11 to 15, another big one. I have gotten a number of reports from attendees last year that the show has gotten very commercial, but it has been a few years since I’ve gone to it. All the shows have a big commercial presence, but that’s the nature of the game, and I enjoy all the gardening stuff that is for sale, especially seeds and tools.

Philadelphia Show 2018

The Boston show has plenty of lectures and presentations throughout most of the day. I’d like to attend one on Ikebana, or Japanese flower arranging. There are also lectures on kokedama, or growing plants indoors in moss (and soil) balls, often suspended in air. I see another by Petra Page-Mann of Fruition Seeds on companion planting. She is a live wire, so I will attend if I can.

The Maine Flower Show in Portland, Maine, takes place March 26 to 29 at Thompson’s Point. Parking is off-site and shuttles are easy, they say. See its website. There will be 14 display gardens, 115 exhibits of plants, hardscape, arbor and garden supplies, and all things related to outdoor yard-scaping and living. This year’s theme is “A Cascade of Color.” Tickets for adults are just $20 and kids under 12 are free.

Next is New Hampshire’s modest show, the Seacoast Home Show in Durham, N.H., on March 28 and 29. It more of a home show than a garden show, but it’s an inexpensive weekend outing.

The Chelsea Show is full of unusual displays.

Likewise the Rhode Island Home Show on April 2 to 5 in Providence includes the Flower and Garden Show in it, covering 10,000 square feet of the 100,000 feet of the Home Show. But it will have 9 complete garden displays, competitions organized by the Federated Garden Clubs and gardening vendors. I haven’t been to the show since the management of the Providence Show changed a few years ago.

My partner, Cindy Heath, and I went to the Chelsea Flower Show in London a few years ago, and it was a chance of a life time. This year it will be held May 19 to 23. It’s expensive and crowded, but join the Royal Horticulture Society in advance as you can get in early and get less expensive tickets. Most of it is outdoors, so full-sized trees are brought in to make displays. It is truly an extravaganza! Also be sure to visit Kew Garden while in London; plan on a full day there, too.

Planning on visiting Uncle Ralph and Aunt Matilda this spring? Maybe you can visit one of the shows below. The only one I’ve attended was the San Francisco show, but that was 20 years ago.

  • The Great Big Home and Garden Show, Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 31 to February 9
  • Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Seattle, Wash., Feb. 26 to March 1
  • Southern Spring Home and Garden Show, Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 28 to March 1
  • Canada Blooms, Toronto, Ontario, March 13 to 22
  • Chicago Flower and Garden Show, March 18 to 22
  • San Francisco-Northern California Flower and Garden Show, Sacramento, April 2 to 5

So have fun, go to a flower show. Smell fresh flowers, fresh soil. And before we know it, it will be spring!

You may reach Henry at P.O. Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746. Please include a SASE if you wish a reply. His e-mail address is henry.homeyer@comcast.net

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeHenry Homeyer's Notes from the Garden

About the Author: Henry Homeyer is a lifetime organic gardener living in Cornish Flat, N.H. He is the author of four gardening books including The Vermont Gardener's Companion. You may reach him by e-mail at henry.homeyer@comcast.net or by snail mail at PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, N.H. 03746. Please include a SASE if you wish an answer to a question by mail.

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