Do you like flower shows?

aachenelf z5 MplsMarch 28, 2013

By "flower show", I'm talking about the indoor (usually a large auditorium-type setting), centered around a theme of some sort, with masses and masses of forced blooms of every sort. I think flower shows across the pond may be of another kind entirely.

One of our local retailers who's name sounds a lot like Nacy's or Pacy's (hint, hint) is either right in the midst of their annual show here or just starting to advertise it lot and I could not be LESS interested in attending. I guess I've always found these flower extravaganzas depressing.

Number 1: I hate the crowds, but number 2: Masses and masses of tulips and lilies and mums and orchids and everything else that is possible to force arranged in some artificial setting just doesn't do it for me. I think it's just too weird and unnatural for me to appreciate.

Am I alone?


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I used to go to the mother of all garden shows--the Philadelphia Flower and Garden Show every year for years. But as I became an experienced gardener, I started hating the Philly's show gardens as I realized that they were made up of plants that could never flower together in nature--plant that bloom April to November all forced in bloom at ounce. You fell in love with a look and realized it wasn't a look you could ever come close to having.

For several years, I did a comment card and emails saying please have a competition category for "gardens that actually could happen. You could still do over the top but pick a period of the year and have all plants forced at one time.

Now I just don't bother to trek up from D.C. at all.

The Washington Flower and Garden show turned into mostly a home show and I stopped going to that too.

Now I visit arboretums and botanical gardens instead.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 4:03PM
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I believe that flower shows across the Pond can be held when people can be gardening.

Where we are, Canada Blooms occurs when the ground is still frozen solid.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 4:06PM
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Campanula UK Z8

No, I actively detest these extravaganzas of fake. Usually around the middle of May, I get a bitter taste as the annual Chelsea flower show looms - every thing which is wrong about not just horticulture but society, encapsulated in a horrid spectacle of excess, bloated globalism, dim celebrities, shallow, shiny, hollow.
Ludicrous expenditure, sponsorship by bankers and insurance firms, utterly unsustainable 'show gardens', badly constructed edifices - a total triumph of style (I s'pose) over substance, Even worse, the current trend for importing enormous trees from around the globe, pioneered by 'designers' (ha, could REALLY get going there), has fatally compromised our native ash trees - yet will there be responsible behaviour from the particpants and organisers of Chelsea? Not a chance. Then there is the insane use of finite resources (peat, hardwoods, natural stone (despite attempting some self-conscious figleaf puff for whatever the current costly greenwash fad is doing the rounds).......nope, ghastly, hopeless, to be avoided at all times.

In case you hadn't got the hint.....not very keen on them.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 6:58PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I like the annual flower show, as a spectacle-- to bask in the abundance of bloom, fragrance and color. MN is too white and black and brown at this time of the year. I don't see it as a practical gardening show for ideas to use in our gardens.

Also don't mind the crowds as feed off the energy, though it helps to go when the kiddies are in school or napping. Going with a gardening friend and making it a social event adds to the enjoyment.

Kevin, while it is now sponsored by M's to my mind it is really B's garden show.

For others, this show is not like the Home and Garden shows. It is one huge display around a single theme, this year India, covering the top floor of a downtown department store.

I only occasionally go to the H & G shows, sitting in on some of the garden
presentations and checking out the garden displays hoping to take away a tidbit or two to use in my gardens.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden show Mpls

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 7:04PM
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aviastar 7A Virginia

It depends on the flower show- we have a fabulous local festival every year. All local nurseries and businesses, children's craft areas, some show gardens; everyone is encouraged to bring their own wagon and fill them with plants as you go. They shut down several streets in the historic section of town, so it's all outside and you can tour some of the historic gardens in the area.

Of course this is small town rural VA, it's not a behemoth, and the competitions aren't that serious. But yes, I do enjoy it very much!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Sunnyborders wrote: Where we are, Canada Blooms occurs when the ground is still frozen solid.

And this is the advantage that this show has over (all?) others is the first. I decided to attend this year due to the fact that I was given free tickets.

This post was edited by rouge21 on Sat, Mar 30, 13 at 19:10

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:26PM
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But who like me just LOVES going to those outdoor residential garden tours....I cannot get enough. I would go every weekend if I could. It is so exciting seeing what other real life home gardeners can do so successfully. I usually take away at least one idea I can use in my own garden.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Campanula UK Z8

we have something called the Yellow Book where people open their gardens, sometimes once a year and sometimes several times. There is usually a small entrance charge. I love going to these gardens - it puts everything into perspective, seeing real gardens, created by real people, in real time (with real budgets). So different from garden mags, with their perfect staged moments (making us all feel a bit demoralised). I even enjoy spotting weeds.
Absolutely the best source of inspiration and delight, Rouge, and a million miles away from the fake shenanigans of Show Gardens.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 9:25AM
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I even enjoy spotting weeds

You are funny campanula :)..

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 9:34AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Well, I still hate these things. There's absolutely nothing to be learned or inspired to because everything is totally unnatural and masses of color simply for the sake of masses of color is overkill in my mind. I'll take my one lonely crocus bloom in my garden any day of the week over an auditorium of forced blooms doomed to the garbage within a week or so. That is not inspirational.

Happy Easter!!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 11:32AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Wow, I haven't been to one in sooooo long - like 15 years long! The last one I went to was a home & garden show, and I picked up a potted Bloodgood Japanese maple for a song, we went on the last day late in the day and the booths didn't want to have to cart away plant material. Over the years that tree has grown to a stunning specimen, I get comments on it often :0)

I think that was the first and last show I went to. :0p

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 11:59AM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

I agree about the forced plants looking sad , but I go for the marketplace areas that sell bulbs and neat garden art. I found the most adorable bird houses built from reclaimed barn wood and topped with vintage ceiling tiles and old hardware as a perch. That was worth the trip alone!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 1:34PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

I'm definitely in the group that doesn't like staged shows - of any type - but loves the local tours! I don't bother with Canada Blooms after going twice a few years ago and always being disappointed. Ditto with other nearby ones I've tried, so now I just don't pay attention to any of them.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 3:28PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have never been to a flower show, and don't have much interest. If somebody handed me free tickets, and it were right down the street, I'd probably check it out. Otherwise, not so likely.

No doubt the flowers are spectacular, but gardening is about much more to me than just flowers in peak bloom on display at an expo. I like the whole experience of the soil, sun, birds and bugs, etc. and find plenty of excitement in my own garden. Besides blooms are only one part of the life cycle of plants. A freshly sprouted seed and a seedpod ready to be collected are also fabulous!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 1:29AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There are two kinds of "shows " that I like. One is the green industry trade show that often accompanies regional or national educational conventions for professionals. Not at all pretentious, the trade shows consist of rows of booth after booth exhibiting every kind of product, gadget, tool, or piece of equipment that a nursery, grower, golf course, landscaping company, etc., might need. Plants are featured heavily, of course, with growers showing their best examples of what they grow. Fun! Such trade shows are free if the fee for attending the educational conference has been paid.

I also love the judged shows, where people can compete with others with their, say, camellia flowers or orchids or bonsai or whatever. Very straight forward and fascinating, with each grower (non professional) exhibiting the products of their labor. It can be very intense!

Not so much of a fan of the "garden shows ", either. Kind of fun for the first fifteen minutes. After that, my feet always start to hurt or it suddenly seems boiling hot in the room, lol.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 5:14AM
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Actual flower shows are OK for temporarily dispelling winter blahs. There aren't any right here in town and I'm not about to travel a couple of hours to get to one.

The real disasters are so-called Home and Garden shows, which are really Home and Garden shows, with lots of focus on building projects and just a few token plants. I avoid those like the plague.

This post was edited by eric_oh on Sun, Mar 31, 13 at 10:55

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 10:54AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I've never cared for the H&G shows either and decided I would never go to another. Turns out the nursery/landscape company I work for is sending me to (wo)man the booth they have at the h&g show this weekend and then maybe the fairgrounds a week after that. Lol.

Not a flower show per se, but there is a local Garden Expo that is in late spring and has outdoor and indoor booths selling plants. It grinds my gears that they let the totally unrelated booths in. Someone please tell me how the heck fresh baked goods, chocolates, music cds, homemade aprons, and hand lotion are garden related?! I know gardeners eat, wear lotion (etc) too, but really.... It seems more an more of these are creeping in and displacing the actual PLANT booths.

This post was edited by christinmk on Sun, Mar 31, 13 at 20:17

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 8:14PM
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molie(z6 CT)

No, I don't really enjoy flower shows. The last few I went to were mostly devoted to rows of vendors selling all kinds of things, not necessarily garden-related. I felt like I was in a mall.

I'm in the camp of those who prefer open garden days tours. To me, those give a better view of how gardeners can work in (and around) environmental issues in their yards ---- I've gotten a lot of ideas looking at other's gardens.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:07PM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

I do enjoy an occasional flower show. The ones I attend, either in Boston or in Portland, ME, provide me with a shot of green and growing during a time of year when I know I've got about another month to 6 weeks of winter followed by about two weeks of mud season. I don't go every year, but I do enjoy them when I attend. Perhaps it's the particular shows I attend, but often the display "gardens" are actually realistic gardens, with a particular time of year emphasized, often spring. I've learned about particular plants that I haven't seen elsewhere. For instance I have Rhododendron viscosum, swamp azalea, in my garden because its scent drew me to a set of them at a long ago Boston Flower and Garden show.

I guess I look at them as a form of spectacle as opposed to being literal gardens.
From Boston Flower & Garden Show 2013 From Boston Flower & Garden Show 2013

The other places I go to get some green during the winter is any of several commercial or educational greenhouses that are relatively local to me.

I also really enjoy visiting real gardens on open garden days, as well as public gardens when I travel. Seeing how others have used the space on garden tours and what plants they have combined is such a personal aspect of gardening.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Flower shows are, to me, the first sign of Spring. I go because I need a fix.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 10:28PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I haven't been to a flower show in probably 20 years. I used to enjoy going for the most part, because it allowed me to see something green growing before spring had sprung. But the experience of the show was not like the anticipation of going. Too many people. Way too crowded. Too commercial. So many booths selling something. And everyone is correct, you would hope for ideas for your own garden only to discover you couldn't use many of them. One valuable aspect of the shows though, would be to see on display and compare the abilities of various local landscapers. And I always enjoyed the judged section where people competed for best houseplants etc.

I have gone to only a couple of real gardens and that was only by chance. I have wanted to go to the Open Gardens Conservatory Days for a long time, but still haven't got there. Maybe this year.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 5:43AM
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Oh, don't get me started. The Maryland Home & "Garden" show got so bad in recent years, I left feeling nothing but anger. Lousy, no-imagination displays of over-forced plants do nothing to dispel winter blahs, and for the past several years, there has been only ONE vendor selling plants: a florist selling potted bulbs, primroses and pansies (I have nothing against any of those plants, but supermarkets are full of them after all). I have only attended for the orchid show that coincides with the "flower" show, and skipped that this year due to time constraints.

How the hell cheery is it to see people leaving a flower show carrying mops? Mops! GD MOPS!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 2:25PM
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H&G shows. Blech. I think they should pay us to attend since the biggest gardening thing they offer is an opportunity to buy hardscaping stuff and services. I'd be more interested if the local nurseries showed up but they don't.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 6:59PM
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