March 7, 2014

Flower Show Fever

I don’t know about you, but I could use a large dose of spring about now.  I’m talking about perfect spring: middle-of-May spring.  And not someplace you get to at the end of three hours on a flying sardine can.  I want New England spring with lilacs, tulips, rhododendron and newly leafed-out maples.  And, yes, I know that’s an impossible request.

Oh, wait.  It isn’t impossible.  In fact, I can get that dose next week.  It’s called the Boston Flower & Garden Show. 

We are in the midst of The Winter That Will Not End.  Courtesy of the Polar Vortex, New England is caught in a Groundhog Day-like repeating weather pattern in which we wake up every few days to single-digit temperatures (the temperature this morning was 3 degrees) and a fresh six inches of snow.  Somewhere under the two feet of snow on my garden, hellebores are supposed to be blooming and crocus sending up exploratory flowers. 

Instant spring in mid-March
The flower show is visible, smell-able and touchable proof that winter eventually comes to an end around here.  It is lush landscapes and garden vignettes and sensory overload by design.  It’s exactly what I need.

The exhibits and vendors out on the main floor of the Seaport World Trade Center, though, are just part of the pleasure.  Beyond the glass doors at the rear of the hall is another, more intimate show that is just as compelling.

A dragon made from flowers
It starts with a pair of floral design competitions.  I’m privileged to know some of the men and women who pull out all the stops for this show, and what they do is conjure up magic.  They enter a class with a name like “Rendezvous” with a description to come up with a floral design based around “a creative design staged on two teardrop-shaped pedestals which combine to form 36” round. Height of taller segment is 24 inches; height of lower segment is 18 inches”.

Faced with such guidelines, I would curl up into a fetal position for two weeks and then call in sick.  These designers will come up with something that will cause everyone to a) gasp and b) say ‘how did they do that?

Photography at the flower show
Next door, there’s Ikebana, the incredibly graceful art of Japanese flower arranging.  (It can’t be called a competition because it isn’t judged, but it is no less beautiful or imaginative.)

Then, there’s the Photography competition, which will be in its fourth year in 2014.  Every year, I keep thinking it can’t get any better, and every year, the folks who run it prove me wrong.  The photography competition is worth the trip into South Boston all by itself.

Finally, there’s the Amateur Horticulture displays.  This is where we mere mortals get to strut our stuff.  If I have a houseplant I am proud of, and I can get it to Seaport between noon and 8 p.m. on Monday, March 10, I can enter it.  There are a handful of rules to follow (no plastic pots, no bugs on plants, please), but the rest of it is easy.  One of the best parts is that, if you don’t know the exact name of your plant, there are a roomful of experts to help you find that name.

Some of the candidate house-
plants that may go to the show
There’s one other great reason to enter a plant into Amateur Horticulture:  you get to walk near the landscape exhibits as they’re in the middle of being created.  This part of the show, called ‘the build’, is one of the most awe-inspiring sights around. Of course, you can also use the drive-through service in which a volunteer takes your plant and you’re on your way. 

I have been trying to decide which houseplants I’m going to enter this year.  For example, I’m the official bougainvillea guy in my household.  One of our plants is showing tiny, delicate lavender blooms right now.  It is certain to get me a blue ribbon. 

Betty has already tagged and is assiduously grooming the plants she intends to enter.  I’m welcome to anything left over – say, any of the dozen or so Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) that bloom randomly around the house.  Right now, I have my eye on a begonia whose full bud seems to have escaped her attention.   If she doesn’t claim it as her own entry, it’s all mine.  That’s what it’s like to have Flower Show Fever. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like it will be just what the doctor ordered Neal! And good luck with your entries. I see some blue ribbons in your future!