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Spring is (almost) Sprung by Carolyn Donovan

Ah, Spring; the birds chirp merrily in the branches, the daffodils wave happily in the garden, trees giddily show their first budding...Snap out of it, Carolyn, it’s early March, you live in Boston, and there’s still snow on the ground! Not if you’re at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s 2005 Spring Flower Show.

What's that Smell?

Wan and I had the pleasure of attending the Flower Show earlier this week, and it’s surprising how, uh, surprised you are by how, um, flowery Spring will be when it comes. As soon as you walk through admission, you immediately smell something you’ve forgotten you haven’t smelled since maybe October: actual earth. And then a more delicate, wafty-type of smell steals its way into your senses, but you can’t make it out, because it’s only the dimmest of olfactory memories. You sniff here and sniff there, then turn the corner and...flowers!

Winter’s been harsh this year in Boston, with alot of bitter temperatures and heavy snowstorms. The snow is no longer beautiful, and now looks like mounds of dirt thrown up on the side of the roadway. The Flower Show is such a wonderful reminder that Winter will, indeed, become Spring, and the world will be beautiful once again.

 Have a seat

This might be my third Flower Show (last year I went with my cousin Karen and we drank “some” wine while there so I’m kind of discounting that visit), and once again I was struck by the actual gardens that have been assembled, inside, in Boston, in March.

Of COURSE they have a Fenway display! We won the World Series!


Yeah, Yeah, Flowers, I Get It

The Flower Show is only partly about flowers; a great deal of it is devoted to gardens. Yes, they do have flower arrangements and bonsai and awards for “most adaptable display of reliquary and bromeliads using invisible fishing line and corn-based recyclable flatware” (NOTE: I have made that category up), but the gardens are, for me, the highlight of the show. There are ponds, there are waterfalls, there are bridges, there are benches, there are trees, there are stone walkways, there are gazebos, there are hammocks, there are all the things that your mind’s eye sees when it sees your fantasy garden, in a setting that makes you want to become a full-time landscape artist (or at least an arborist).

The turtles are hiding in the well...


My two faves (and don’t send me email asking for the names of the nurseries who put them together, I was just wandering about goggle-eyed) were:

1. The one where vegetables were included as part of the garden (the squash and tomato plants where climbing up these antique trellises, and it took me a full 45 seconds to realize they were squash and tomato plants, they were so pretty);

What a georgeous gourd

2. The one with the pond in which were paddling two live black swans. This one also had some ducks who wanted to paddle in the pond too, but it was like watching an elementary school power-play: the swans were the 6th graders, the ducks were the 4th graders, and there was no way the 6th graders were going to let the 4th graders use their hopscotch. The ducks kept striking defiant yet scared postures of entering the pond, but one of the reasons swans have those long necks is that they can lay them out flat on the ground and nip at ducks. Can you guess which side I was rooting for?

Can you see the swans?


How much is that orchid in the window?

There is a very large retail section where you can buy almost anything garden-y. Seven-person Jacuzzi with 146 power jets and optional towel warmer/mini fridge/underwater mood-lighting, anyone? No? How about a nice stick “magic” bamboo that grows in water? Or maybe that butterfly flag you’ve been wanting for the deck? Or some fabulous Caribbean sauces made in Jamaica, sold at the Show by the guys who make them (or their brothers, maybe). We bought the sauces, which is an amazing thing because Wan actually bought them, not me.


The gods drank nectar, right?

The Flower Show has many types of food available for purchase, in addition to the sauce guys and the dip ladies (if you’ve ever been to a craft show of any size, you know who they are). There are actual restaurants, and a food court with better than average food (like Montilio’s and Iguana Cantina).


What's my number?

My only pet peeve (and I had two, but I’m trying to be less cantankerous as I get older, which I know is going against the grain): the Show had a couple of stations of “Vote for your Favorite Garden” that had large hand-held devices into which you entered the number of the garden you liked. The screens were not back lit, so you couldn’t see them in the dim light, and they had a terrible visual display. For those of you old enough to remember, it looked like a DOS screen. Unbelievable!


I'm ording my tomato plants now!

But other than that, I loved the show. Go, go, go to the Spring Flower Show. The price is a little steep - $20 adult admission, $12 parking – but still, it’s cheaper than an aromatherapy massage, and you can stay as long as you want!


The great outdoors - not!

2005 New England Spring Flower Show: A Fresh Perspective

March 12 - 20, 2005
Bayside Expo Center
Boston, MA

Show hours:
Saturdays 9am - 9pm
Sundays 9am - 6pm
Weekdays 10am - 9pm


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Photography by Wan Chi Lau