OK, the light is artificial, the plants are forced, and the birdsong is a MIDI-file. But what a welcome breath of Spring, regardless! The delights of a flower and garden show are greater still after a long, cold, and snowy winter. In the 90’s, MamaRubi and I always used to make the trek up to Boston to see the now-defunct annual extravaganza put on by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. I’d take lots and lots of pictures, and then we’d come home to the seed catalogs and graph paper. It’s what gets a gardener from February to May. (And how sad to think that such a venerable institution couldn’t keep the show going into the 21st century.)
Anyway, on to the highlights… There were two little faux-farms, both with livestock! There was a gorgeous chicken house, complete with live hens inside — I think they were Araucanas, despite Lil’ Rhody’s state bird being the Rhode Island Red. And there were goats! The nanny completely bypassed the dried goat-pellet feeder to go over the split rail fence around her pen and straight for the arbor vitae, which was luscious and green. I tell you, when the Board of Reincarnation asks, “So, Rubi, would you rather go back as a sheep or a goat?”, I’m not going to hesitate. “Oh we, like sheep,” indeed!
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a garden show — the last one was Philly in 2004 — so I may be behind on the trends, but I was surprised to see that there were two exhibits (out of about 20) that showed shed roofs covered in plants. In one case, they were creepers, but in the other, they were baby lettuces and herbs. I was au fait about green roofs in cities, but had never seen edibles on the roof of a small structure. And being the step-daughter of an engineer, I had to wonder about load tolerances, especially with all the watering that lettuce needs! Still, they were lovely to look at.
There was also a little wood to walk through that led to a beaver dam, courtesy of the RI Wild Plant Society and some, um, beavers, who weren’t in attendance. And lots of water features — one exhibit had four! — and pergolas, and one very lovely old red tractor. I’m a Farm-All girl, myself.
Fashion trends seem to be showing up in the flower world, too. Everywhere I looked, there were hellebores in the most amazing shade of coral-pink. I’ve always loved them best in deep, dark, Evil Stepmother poisoned-apple purple-red, but I could be convinced. And since coral is THE color for spring, I could get a matching twin set from Talbots and loll about in the understory, coordinating with the Lenten roses. Wouldn’t that be grand, if also a bit damp?
Oh, and there was another curious flora/fashion intersection. Yes, dear readers, that’s a bikini made out of birch bark and lambs’ ears. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of planting lambs’ ears among your treasured perennials only to find a year later that they’ve taken over the whole bed, you’ll understand my glee in seeing them get their thoroughly-merited comeuppance here. (What, you don’t think plants can feel shame?) Still, I think the overall effect of this look is best summed up as “scratchy.” There was another model, not shown here, made of folded and braided Dracaena leaves, that looked marginally more wearable.
It was a lovely afternoon, and just the respite I needed. By the time I got home, it had started to snow.