I’m not a big fan of the movies, but I remember a film from the 1960s that opened with people trudging across a snow-swept plain somewhere in Russia wearing large fur hats and cumbersome boots. "Doctor Zhivago," perhaps? Sometimes it seems that we’re all in that movie. If you’re finding winter dreary, you need to go to one of the many Spring Flower Shows -- or maybe all of them.
The first flower show each year is the New Hampshire Orchid Society, this year on February 14 through 16. It is just orchids. Orchids of all kinds, and paraphernalia for orchid growers. Adults are $10, seniors $6, kids under 12 are free. It’s at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua. For information, visit www.nhorchids.org.
The first big shows are the weekend of February 20 through 23 with shows in Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn. They are both excellent, and worth a visit. They’ll have flowering trees and luscious flowers, a multitude of vendors selling everything from bulbs and cut flowers to books and vases, and of course, educational lectures. The Providence Show has always been one of my favorites. (Full disclosure: I am lecturing Friday and Saturday at the Show in Providence).
This year the Providence Show is including vintage cars in the garden displays. I phoned Chuck Carberry, one of the show’s organizers, who told me that each major exhibit will include an antique or vintage car -- from a Model A Ford in a Great Gatsby-themed garden to a ‘70s Ferrari in an Italian grotto garden. Not only that, the show will feature an old time drive-in theater!
Each year at Providence, I love the sand sculpture -- castles big enough for children or gnomes -- and this year, given the car theme, they are going to have an old fashioned "woodie" made of sand. The sculptors work on their creations during much of the show, so you can see how they do what they do. The same is true of the designers of the various flower exhibits -- they are there to answer questions, which is nice. For information, visit www.flowershow.com
The Hartford show is held at the Connecticut Convention Center, which is a great space for such a big show -- handy to the interstate, plenty of parking. They pride themselves on their seminars -- 12 per day, Friday to Sunday. The Federated Garden Clubs have a big space on the show floor, allowing individual exhibitors to show off their house plants, cactus and arrangements. Tickets are $16, and unlike most shows, they accept cash only! So fill your wallet before you go. For information, visit www.ctflowershow.com.
The Philadelphia Flower Show is March 1 through 9. It is the original flower show (having started in 1829) and certainly the biggest and most expensive. Daily tickets are $27 and they sell a VIP all-access ticket for $125! But you have to attend at least once in your life. Go during the week when crowds are less, if you can. I love this show for its sheer size and diversity. And there are lots of exhibits by ordinary gardeners, which I like. For information, visit theflowershow.com.
The Portland, Maine, Flower Show is March 6 through 9 at the Portland Company Complex on Fore Street, downtown. Tickets cost $13 in advance. This year’s theme is Storybook Gardens. For information, visit portlandcompany.com.
The Boston Flower Show is another extravaganza. This year, designers have been asked to. "create a small freestanding garden inspired by a scene of romance or seduction from a specific, named piece of literature, a movie or a popular song." It’s being held March 12 through 16 at the Seaport World Trade Center. Tickets are $20, and worth it! Get there at opening time (10 a.m. during the week, 9 a.m. on the weekend) before the crowds get too big. For information, visit www.bostonflowershow.com.
After Boston comes The Seacoast Home and Garden Show in Durham, N.H., March 29 and 30. A nice small show with 220 vendors and a reasonable fee to get in -- tickets are only $8. For information, visit www.NewEnglandExpos.com.
The last show of the season is in Bangor, Maine, April 4 to 6 in the Cross Insurance Center, a new venue. This is another small show, but it sounds good. I’ve never been to this one, but I see that this year they will have a beer tasting garden. For information, visit www.bangorgardenshow.com.
The Vermont Flower Show is on an every-other-year schedule, and this is an off year. But there are plenty of shows to visit, and it’s really fun to see so many cheery people walking around carrying blooming daffodils or pussywillows that they have purchased in an effort to bring spring home a little early. So get off the couch and go!
Henry Homeyer is the author of four gardening books. His web site is www.Gardening-Guy.com.