Seen at the garden show

Cynthia9 comments1937 views
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Tis the season. Indeed, many of you have already attended or ignored your local home & garden/garden-only exhibitions, which are timed to capture the attention of property owners as winter fades. Our show happened this past weekend. I used to look forward to this when I was first starting out as a gardener. Now I mainly go to find things to mock. That’s sad, isn’t it? Nonetheless, it was fun to see the plants and smell the mulch. I also bought some lily bulbs.  Here’s what I noticed, good and bad:

WIN: Food garden promotion. However this is done, it is important that there be some mention of food growing in the commercial garden show context. I was encouraged to a large display from a local horticultural program focusing attention on vegetables and herbs rather than patio paving and outdoor TVs.

FAIL: Really? An extermination company using a picture of a BEE? Seriously? I have no words.

WIN: Too bad the bottles are all empty. So you know, the theme of this year’s show was “partying in the garden.” I don’t think you need grills the size of Buicks, expensive furniture, or firepits for a great garden party. A bucket of beer gets the job done just fine.

FAIL: Enough with the scare tactics. This year, it’s the borer; next year, there’ll be another bug. Education on biodiversity in all planting is what’s really needed.

WIN: Stuff for kids. I didn’t see too much garden content in this children’s garden, but it looked fun, and—again—it’s all about the context. Kids need to associate gardening with fun.

FAIL: Maybe it’s just me, but I think water features should be about the sight and sound of water flowing, not  monoliths that look like they escaped from Disney Stonehenge.

How about your garden show? Anything that rose above the flagstones?

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on March 24, 2014 at 8:00 am, in the category CRRRITIC, Everybody’s a Critic.


  1. Actually, the herbs and veggies (and beer) were part of the fiesta display garden created by the Niagara County Community College Horticulture Program and the McKinley Adult Education Horticulture program. We agree, edibles should be an integral part to the gardening conversation.

  2. Good observations, Elizabeth. I did make comments…on my own blog, GardenChirps at I saw 4 garden shows and created a post on each, including the Philadelphia Flower Show and the NW Flower & Garden Show. They are all learning experiences about what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately there’s a lot more of the latter than we’d like.

  3. I went to the two shows in Portland OR. Gleaned a few ideas but truthfully what I pay for entrance fee and parking I could buy some plants at my fav nursery. I think I’d rather pay for “open garden” events and see some real gardens.

  4. I live in SW Ohio and the Emerald Ash Borer has been rampant. Our neighborhood looks like the “after” photo. A beautiful nature preserve nearby and a state park a few miles away have removed over 20,000 dead ash trees from their lands, leaving another 5000 in place for habitat.. Driving along the local freeways, whole hillsides are covered in dead trees. The Ohio DNR estimates 40% of Ohio’s trees are in the Ash family and it is easy to see the accuracy of their estimate on any summer day. It’s heartbreaking. We are all hoping the long and unusually cold winter will slow their progress.

  5. Also with respect, I do realize that these insects and diseases can do a lot of damage. Indeed, Buffalo was devastated by Dutch Elm. I have also seen the opportunism of companies who offer unnecessary and expensive treatments for this and other problems that have received significant publicity.

  6. After the horrible winter we had, I decided at the last moment to go to Canada Blooms. After a couple hour drive and paying $20 for parking which was a 20 minute walk away from the show, and $20 to get in…’s an expensive day. The show was terrible. They paired it with the Home show a couple years ago, so now the plants have to make it much longer before. Last year I went on the last day and nearly all the plants were dead in the displays. This year I was there on the second day, the plants were alive but not very diversified. When the show first started years ago they made the effort to force different trees and flowers to bloom. Now it is sparse and boring. Many of the Landscape designer firms don’t put gardens in any more. It just didn’t pay off for them. The marketplace was dismal… lots of junky stuff, a couple good booths, but not many. I usually really enjoy the actual Flower competition, but even it fell flat this year for me. Remind me not to waste my time and money next year.

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