The Best Garden Show of All

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Slug traceries — a morning delight in my garden.

I don’t enjoy ranting and would much rather rave — about, for example, the glorious iridescent slug traceries on the pavers of my courtyard this morning. However, that will have to wait for some future date, because today’s topic is home and garden shows.

My tendency has been to dismiss the garden shows unless I am in the market for something particular. If I know I wanted to buy a greenhouse or a hot tub, I’d do it at the garden show to get the substantial discount.

I suppose that, if I wanted to know the latest gardening trends, I might take a peek at the demonstration gardens, where a young and daring landscape designer might have produced a cool structure or used a quirky palette.

Gabions were featured at the recent Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Such a versatile strategy for adding vertical interest! Also easy to do it yourself, inexpensive, and can be dismantled quickly (unlike a rock wall) should you change your mind about it.

Another thing to love about garden shows is, of course, the plants. Weeks or months before they emerge in our own gardens, we get to smell all those forced bulbs (we don’t all have Elizabeth’s way with forcing).

A highlight of my brief foray into the NWFGS was smelling the blooming Edgeworthia chrysantha shrubs and toying with the idea of popping one into my car to watch it fight for its life here in my Zone 5b garden. Luckily for those Edgeworthia, my visit met an untimely end, so they might be snapped up instead by admirers in warmer zones.

Edgeworthia chrysantha, growing in the courtyard at Chanticleer, from the book Hellstrip Gardening.

There are great educational opportunities at some of the garden shows. I learned a lot from Tammi Hartung, who spoke about “Peaceful Ways to Handle Wildlife Challenges” at NWFGS, and wish I’d been able to see more of the talks during that 5-day show.

It is fun to see all the tools on display too. I think a seminar devoted to demonstrating all of them would fill a great need. How does a sickle work, and how does one hold it? What do you use those iron claws for?

What uses, exactly? Surely this would make a fascinating subject for a seminar.

But now we get to the ranting. It’s hard to reconcile the crowded hubbub and stimulation of the garden shows with the refreshing, satisfying, never-too-overwhelming, and mainly solitary activity of gardening. The garden shows promise some of the joys of gardening, but they cannot deliver on that promise because they are not peaceful, they are not soulful, and they are not natural.

There is a place for them, and they have much to offer, but they are disappointing teases, ultimately, because I really would prefer to be in my garden.

My garden, with its barely emerging hyacinths, crocus, early tulips, and narcissus; its cluster of new chive stems, which are just what I want to be grazing on; its half-uncovered pond where I can occasionally glimpse a darting orange fish; its spreading patches of pussytoes, strawberries, sedum, hens and chicks, lime thyme, and bearberry; its reassuring gray-green mounds of lavender, artemisia, and garden sage — for me, it is the show to beat all garden shows.

Posted by

Evelyn Hadden
on February 17, 2015 at 7:59 pm, in the category Taking Your Gardening Dollar, What’s Happening.

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1 Comment

  1. 7th October 2016 at 11:21 pm —

    Well, as a Midwestern denizen, and probably many from the northeast this year, going to even a modest garden show in February is a way to survive intact. We have nothing peeking through the snow any time soon, and more subzero (F) weather on the way! It’s still too early to start most of my seeds, so dashing through the -25 deg wind chill to the Wisconsin Public TV garden expo was a way to keep myself sane…

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The Best Garden Show of All