With So Many Upcoming Flower Shows,
 Can Spring Be Far Behind?

Tom Wajda
Adams County Master Gardener

Attending a flower and garden show is one of the most pleasant activities of February or March. The many exhibits provide refreshing flashes of color and landscaping ideas while restoring the soul. Meanwhile, vendors have for sale flats of plants and racks of seeds that offer the excitement and challenge of a new growing season. Here are four of my favorite shows.

Maymont Flower & Garden Show

The Maymont Flower & Garden Show in Richmond, VA is the season opener in our region. This year Maymont will focus on intimate garden scenes full of color, fragrance, and inspiration. It will also include nearly a dozen associated shows including orchids, bonsai, African Violets, and Ikebana.

One of Maymont’s strongest points is its emphasis on learning – "garden advice for the picking." Fifteen nationally recognized speakers will part with their secrets on topics as varied as floral design, creative containers, antique roses, and allergy free gardening.

This year’s show takes place February 21-24 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Advance tickets are $7.00 ($9.00 at the door) and may be ordered from Maymont Flower & Garden Show Tickets, 1700 Hampton St., Richmond, VA 23220, or by phone at 804-358-7166, ext. 310. Proceeds benefit Maymont, a marvelous "Gilded Age" estate in Richmond.

York Mid Atlantic Garden and Flower Show

Held at the York Fairgrounds February 28 to March 3, the York Mid Atlantic Flower and Garden Show gets bigger and better every year. The show now takes places in both East and West Memorial Hall, more than doubling the space it occupied two years ago. Landscape displays have always been one of its strongest points with eye pleasing banks of color from hundreds of azaleas, crab apples, tulips, daffodils, and other spring plants. They are a tonic for the spirit!

The York show is of special interest for homeowners who plan to make significant revisions to their landscaping. Most vendors are from the York/Adams/Lancaster area; having them all under the same roof gives you a great opportunity to compare and contrast styles and prices. Tickets are $5.50 at the door with discounts for seniors and children. Advance tickets are available from show vendors at $4.50.

Philadelphia Flower Show

As far as I'm concerned, this is the grand-daddy of them all. A dozen superb landscape displays each about 2,500 feet square. Competitive plant exhibitions for everything from begonias and cacti to variegated foliage specimens. Perhaps 200 orchids in full bloom. Art and jewelry featuring plant material and designs. Its glorious!

That said, the show does have two drawback – the crowds and the food. Fortunately, both are easily fixed. First, the crowds. If at all possible, go on a weekday and plan to arrive around 2:00 PM. By that time the bulk of the early arrivals (including most of the tour bus groups) will be heading for the door and you can count on 3-5 hours of easy viewing and circulation. Arriving late also gives you an opportunity to eat lunch anywhere else, perhaps in one of the many Oriental restaurants near the Convention Center. The food inside the Center is both poor quality and high priced.

This year’s show runs from March 3 to March 10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia. Advance sale tickets (PNC branches or www.theflowershow.com) are $18.00. Tickets at the door are $20.00 for weekdays and $22.00 for weekends.

Hagerstown Community College Flower & Garden Show

Sponsored by the college’s Alumni Association, this is the ‘little garden show that could.’ We have watched this show "blossom" over the past six years from an event that barely took up a corner of the Recreation Center into a full-fledged exhibition complete with displays, vendors, children's activities, and homemade soup at the Garden Café. Community oriented and run entirely by volunteers, it has a charm that is hard to find today.

The show will be held March 16-17 at the Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown, MD. Admission is $4.00, children under 12 free. Seminars and demonstrations are scheduled every hour from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM in March 16 and 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM March 17.

There you are! Four opportunities to get a head start on spring and chase the winter blahs. Whether you want to make a big day of it or just get out of the house for a while, there's a garden show to fit your interests and your pocketbook. Enjoy!

Read other gardening Articles by Tom Wajda