The Flower Shows 2022

Usually at this time of year I am planning my travel to the various flower shows around New England: Boston, Connecticut or Vermont. Perhaps Maine. Not this year. Most of the show has been put off due to COVID, including the Boston Show, which was canceled recently. The Connecticut Flower Show website says it will be the only major flower show in New England.

The Connecticut Flower Show will take place Feb. 24 to 27 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CTR. Tickets cost $ 20 for adults on the day of the event, or $ 16 if purchased in advance (which will avoid the wait in line). Children ages 5 to 12 are $ 5, and children under 5 are free. The Convention Center has been upgraded to minimize the risk of COVID transmission and state and local regulations will be followed.

The show is always known for having lots of educational workshops. This year is no exception: there are some 80 presentations including organic lawn care, container gardening, floral arranging and pollinator gardens, among others.

One talk that caught my eye is by a friend of mine, Len Giddix. It’s Rain Gutter Gardening: Sprouts, Herbs and Greens without Draining Your Wallet. I called Len who explained that he uses four-inch pots in a 10-foot section of gutter partially filled with potting mix. It’s tidy, and can produce a lot of greens. And no, the gutter is not up high, it’s along the edge of a walkway. Sounds slick! He’ll repeat his demo every day.

The show will have all the usual vendors selling seeds, plants, cut flowers, air plants, tick protection products, beekeeping supplies, garden tools and more. Organizations like the Rose Society will be there, and other nonprofits.

Next there is the Chelsea Flower Show in London from May 24 to 28. This show has always been held outdoors and is known for the lavish gardens built by world-famous designers, often using mature trees and shrubs. There are, of course, tents, one of which would easily accommodate Barnum and Bailey at its heyday. My wife and I attended in 2017.

The magnificence of the show is startling: hundreds of fresh blossoms in perfect form in many of the booths. New introductions of named varieties are on display. Actress Judi Dench got a lovely apricot-colored rose named after her by David Austin the year I attended, and as press, I got to see her accept the honor. The chief executive of Burpee Seeds, George Ball, was in the Burpee booth, greeting us and answering questions. There was even a cute little robot cutting the lawn in one booth. The show covers many acres.

If you decide to go, I recommend joining the Royal Horticultural Society for 50 pounds ($ 67.50 at current exchange rate). The membership gets you into the show for 2 days before it opens to all, a 10% discount on all tickets, and other benefits including their quarterly magazine. I went on the first membership day and it was quite crowded, so I can’t imagine what it is like when the show is open to the public. I recommend attending at least two days to see it all, which is what we did.

Daily tickets for adults cost about $ 55, with Saturday at about $ 116. But if you can afford it, go! It’s a once in a lifetime experience. And women: bring your most colorful garden hat and a flowered dress as the British women love to dress up for the show – and you don’t want to appear like the poor “country cousin.”

Then there is the Philadelphia Flower Show which will be held outdoors from June 11 to 19 at South Philadelphia’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. The show, which was first organized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1829, will include 15 acres of this large park with majestic trees and views of the waterfront. By holding the show outdoors in early summer, exhibitors will be able to include larger landscape material than an indoor event, much as the Chelsea Flower Show does.

I have attended the Philly show in the past, and was always thoroughly “wowed”. One aspect of the show that I love is the competitions that allows ordinary gardeners to strut their stuff, competing for ribbons for the best house plants, flower arrangements, specialty plants and more. Then of course there are the displays made by professional landscapers, stone workers and designers. And more garden geegaws than you can imagine are for sale.

Bring an umbrella or rain coat, just in case of shower. There are tents, but much is outdoors. The large venue outdoor should keep attendees well socially distanced.

For non-members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) admission is $ 45 for adults, $ 30 for young adults (18 to 29), and $ 20 for kids 5 to 17. Members of the PHS can get 10% discounts. Go to the website to read more about gala events and early morning tours: phsonline.org/the-flower-show

COVID has limited what we can do and see, but there are still a few places to go if you hanker for a good garden show. And maybe next year they will all be back to normal.

Henry lives in Cornish Flat, NH., He is the author of four gardening books. His email is henry.homeyer@comcast.net.

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