Friday February 1, 2013

The old timers say that on Groundhog’s Day you should still have half your woodpile left. I say you should have ordered your seeds and made plans to attend at least one spring flower show. I’m still working on my seed orders, but would like to share the details of the flower shows with you now so you can make plans, too.

The first each year on the list of shows is the New Hampshire Orchid Society show in early February, this year February 8-10. It is just orchids. Orchids of all kinds, and paraphernalia for orchid growers. Adults are $10, seniors $6, and you can get a $2 off coupon on their web site (www.nhorchids.org). It’s at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua.

The first big shows are in Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., on the weekend of February 21-24. I attended the Rhode Island show these last two years, and loved it! It has many of the attractions of the Boston show, but not the crowds and crazy drivers of Boston. It has a good menu of speakers, an excellent variety of vendors and plenty of floral displays. I also love the sand sculptors that create magical sand castles - almost life size.

The Providence show is held in the Rhode Island Convention Center in downtown Providence. Admission is $19 for adults, but you can save $2 by buying in advance. There is also a food and wine show featuring well-known chefs from 1-5 p.m. daily; if you intend to attend that, the price for both is $30. Info: www.flowershow.com.

The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show will be at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, February 21-24. The theme this year is "Love in Bloom" and boasts 300 booths and 80 hours of seminars. I went on a Saturday last year, and it was very busy - almost too busy, for me. But there is a lot to see. Admission is $16 for adults and, please note, they only accept cash for tickets at the door. Info: www.ctflowershow.com.

One of my favorites is the biennial Vermont Flower Show, held this year on March 1-3 at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex Junction, Vermont. I love that the members of the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association all work together to create special exhibits - rather than competing against each other. This year’s theme is "The Road Not Taken" after the Frost poem. Parking is free and easy, crowds are reasonable, there is plenty to see, and there will be a nice variety of speakers. I’ll be presenting Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Admission is $15, only $3 for kids 3-17 and $12 for seniors over 60.

The Vermont Show is a family-friendly show: There is a nice family activity room where they will have performers as well as art supplies and games. The Vermont Federated Garden Clubs Association encourages children to enter a container-grown plant with interesting foliage or flowers. And, for kids of all ages there is a great display of model trains. This is the smallest of the shows, but full of flowers and flowering shrubs. There will be an excellent show of stonework by Dan Snow, a dry stonewall expert. Info: http://greenworksvermont.org/

The Philadelphia Show is the opposite of the Vermont Show: big, busy, and brassy. It has been in existence since 1829, and hosts over 250,000 visitors each year. It will be held March 2-10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Tickets are (ouch!) $27 - but worth it. If you’re a serious gardener, you must go at least once in your life! Info, http://theflowershow.com/.

The Portland, Maine Flower Show is March 7 -10 at the Portland Company Complex on Fore St, downtown. Tickets cost $13. Info: http://portlandcompany.com.

Boston is another big show with lots to offer. Held each year at the Seaport World Trade Center, it is March 13-17. Lots of displays, lots of speakers. Reading the list of talks, I loved this one: "Jaw-Dropping, Traffic-Stopping, Get-Your-Neighbors-Talking Container Gardens" by Deborah Trickett. That alone is almost enough to get me there! There are lectures by plenty of well known garden experts to choose from. Tickets are $20. Info: http://www.bostonflowershow.com.

After Boston comes The Seacoast Home and Garden Show in Durham, N.H., on March 23-24. A nice small show. Tickets are only $8. Info: www.NewEnglandExpos.com.

The last show of the season is Bangor, Maine April 5 to 7 in the Bangor Auditorium. Their website www.bangorgardenshow.com has yet to be updated for 2013.

We can’t change our weather, but we can change our attitudes about winter - by going to the garden shows. I recommend it. Smell the daffodils, go to a lecture, buy something in bloom. You’ll feel better.

Henry Homeyer is a life-long organic gardener, gardening consultant, author of four gardening books and UNH Master Gardener. You can reach Henry at PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746 or henry.homeyer@comcast.net. His websites are www.gardening-guy.com and www.henryhomeyer.com.