Seen at the garden show

Seen at the garden show
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Tis the season. Indeed, many of you have already attended or ignored your local home & garden/garden-only exhibitions, which are timed to capture the attention of property owners as winter fades. Our show happened this past weekend. I used to look forward to this when I was first starting out as a gardener. Now I mainly go to find things to mock. That’s sad, isn’t it? Nonetheless, it was fun to see the plants and smell the mulch. I also bought some lily bulbs.  Here’s what I noticed, good and bad:

WIN: Food garden promotion. However this is done, it is important that there be some mention of food growing in the commercial garden show context. I was encouraged to a large display from a local horticultural program focusing attention on vegetables and herbs rather than patio paving and outdoor TVs.

FAIL: Really? An extermination company using a picture of a BEE? Seriously? I have no words.

WIN: Too bad the bottles are all empty. So you know, the theme of this year’s show was “partying in the garden.” I don’t think you need grills the size of Buicks, expensive furniture, or firepits for a great garden party. A bucket of beer gets the job done just fine.

FAIL: Enough with the scare tactics. This year, it’s the borer; next year, there’ll be another bug. Education on biodiversity in all planting is what’s really needed.

WIN: Stuff for kids. I didn’t see too much garden content in this children’s garden, but it looked fun, and—again—it’s all about the context. Kids need to associate gardening with fun.

FAIL: Maybe it’s just me, but I think water features should be about the sight and sound of water flowing, not  monoliths that look like they escaped from Disney Stonehenge.

How about your garden show? Anything that rose above the flagstones?

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on March 24, 2014 at 8:00 am, in the category CRRRITIC, Everybody’s a Critic.


    • Susan
    • 20th September 2015

    You know what that giant fountain reminds me of? Those new “flickering flame” LED pillar candles that were selling at Christmas! It’s always nice to have a reminder of how to define the word “kitsch”. Here in Rochester, we no longer have our Gardenscape show; just as well, since it devolved into a mess of uninspired landscapes and “As Seen On TV” crap in the vendor area (most of which had no relation to gardening whatsoever). Sad to say, I don’t really miss it.

    • greg draiss
    • 12th November 2016

    I used to go to this garden show. But $10 to get in for what is really a commercial show and few garden displays turned me off.

    • Carolyn Stanko
    • 14th November 2016

    Actually, the herbs and veggies (and beer) were part of the fiesta display garden created by the Niagara County Community College Horticulture Program and the McKinley Adult Education Horticulture program. We agree, edibles should be an integral part to the gardening conversation.

    • John
    • 15th November 2016

    This is a family blog, so I won’t tell you what the giant garden fountain reminded me of, but suffice to say nothing like that will be making its way into my garden in the near/medium/long term/ever future. Thanks for the chuckle.

    • Carolyn
    • 15th November 2016

    I thought the same (inappropriate) thing when I saw that fountain.

    • gemma
    • 15th November 2016

    The one in SF went all out on seminar presentations this year. Tons of talks on edibles and natives for a change! But they didn’t get them posted on the website with enough advance notice. Such interesting content that I wished I’d planned to attend all 5 days. I didn’t spend much time looking at the commercial stuff, since I’d spent such a big chunk on the outrageous parking fee.

    • gemma
    • 16th November 2016

    Wow! And I thought $12 was high (it was $8 the last time I drove there; I’ve also taken the train to avoid driving and parking), though I do live rather close to the edge. I haven’t paid an entry fee for years. Most years I volunteer at a booth for 2-3 hours, which means I get in for free and get to spend the rest of the time at the show. For a few years, a local nursery sold tickets and offered the full value of the ticket in merchandise after the show: so you pay $16 for the ticket, go to the show, and go back to the nursery after the show to redeem your ticket for $16 worth of plants etc. This year they stopped doing that. Instead, they offered a discount.

    • Vanessa Gardner Nagel
    • 16th November 2016

    Good observations, Elizabeth. I did make comments…on my own blog, GardenChirps at I saw 4 garden shows and created a post on each, including the Philadelphia Flower Show and the NW Flower & Garden Show. They are all learning experiences about what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately there’s a lot more of the latter than we’d like.

    • kermit
    • 16th November 2016

    “Disney Stonehenge” Bwahahaha!

    • Ali
    • 16th November 2016

    I went to the two shows in Portland OR. Gleaned a few ideas but truthfully what I pay for entrance fee and parking I could buy some plants at my fav nursery. I think I’d rather pay for “open garden” events and see some real gardens.

    • Sydney Baxter
    • 17th November 2016

    I live in SW Ohio and the Emerald Ash Borer has been rampant. Our neighborhood looks like the “after” photo. A beautiful nature preserve nearby and a state park a few miles away have removed over 20,000 dead ash trees from their lands, leaving another 5000 in place for habitat.. Driving along the local freeways, whole hillsides are covered in dead trees. The Ohio DNR estimates 40% of Ohio’s trees are in the Ash family and it is easy to see the accuracy of their estimate on any summer day. It’s heartbreaking. We are all hoping the long and unusually cold winter will slow their progress.

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