People always ask me, "Is The Flower Show worth going to this year?" And I always say, "Yes!" I love the Boston Flower & Garden Show. It's one of the classiest and best in the nation (and I've been to a lot of flower shows in other places).
This grand old Boston tradition runs through Sunday at the Seaport World Trade Center. It's a great place to find some spring gardens in full bloom after the teasing unseasonably warm March weather we have enjoyed.
The 137-year old non-profit show met its demise in 2009 for financial reasons but was resurrected the following year by the Paragon Group, event marketers and producers, under the guidance of Carolyn Weston, who directed the old show. The operation has been a success. Thank you, Paragon Group.
The many display gardens by landscape professions showing their wares are designed on the theme: "First Impressions: Adding Wow Factor to Outdoors Spaces." Mahoney's has an entrance exhibit illustrating front yard garden panache and orange tuplips flanked by Jameson Landscape and an outstanding garden by Heimlich Nurseries, which has supported the show for generations with it annual large flowering landscapes. Newer participants include Markus Specimen Tree, Crystal Brinson, Ahronian Landscaping & Medway Garden Center, the Garden Design School, Quintessential Gardens, and Liquid Landscape Designs, which features some unusual rock and glass mashups. Peter Sadeck won the Allen C. Haskell award for his spectacular green archway featuring live parrots. The Newport Flower Show exhibit also had great showmanship.
The clever miniature gardens viewed through a peephole like display window are also enchanting. Gloria Freitas Steidinger of the Easton Garden Club won in this catagory for her miniature creation of "Shangrila." As usual, this feature was organized by Debby Hogan and her husband, noted landscape designer and nurseryman Warren Leach, who will be speaking at 11 a.m. Thursday.
There are dozens of other continuous lectures. I am particularly looking forward to Saturday's 1 p.m. lecture by Mike & Angie Chute on gardening with the new low maintenance roses.
Flower arranging also has a strong presence. Professional florists in one invitational have made living hats from flowers and foliage fashioned after those bizarre forward tilting caps called "fascinators" you saw at Kate and WIll's Royal Wedding last year.
The flower show's Ikabana display is completely serene and inspiring. There are also several competitive amateur flower shows, including two by members of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, and a garden photography competition, all run by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, under the title: Blooms! This also includes a children's education section that will include a scavenger hunt and horticultural activities near the Mass. Hort. desk, trustee Betsy Madsen pointed out.
Mass. Hort. provides many volunteers, and showcases hobby gardeners' plants in its amateur section, including a wonderful cotton plant with bolls of ripe cotton grown by Elaine and Sidney Koretsky of Brookline.
The New England Flower Show, which has employed thousands of local volunteers over its many decades, has deep roots in the community. Two charismatic volunteer leaders who died in the last year were honored among the Mass. Hort. exhibits. Chestnut Hill's wonderful Corliss Knapp Engle, who died in November after a lifetime of horticultural contributions, had a garden photography award named after her, which was won by Debbie Ross of Winnetka, Il., for her photograph of lodge pole pine.
There was also a write-up about the many contributions of long-time Weston resident Susan Beth Emery Dumaine, who died in February in Kentucky where she had retired. She was whip smart, energetic and funny. Among her many local horticultural contributions, Dumaine for many years ran (and policed) nomenclature at the flower show so all plants were correctly labeled. It was painstaking work.
Fittingly, Mass. Hort. Executive director Kathy Macdonald was on hand at the show where she praised a new high tech form of plant labels being used here and at the Elm Bank headquarters. "You scan the plant labels (called hortycodes) with your smart phone and and it tells you about the plant and there's even an audio link with the correct pronunciation." I think Susan Dumaine would have loved it.
For more information about the Flower Show visit http://www.bostonflowershow.com.