February is a rough month.
The shortest page of the calendar, it can tease us with 50-degree days, and freeze us with -20 windchills. A 6-inch snowfall one week is followed by torrential rains the next, and ice storms the week after, making us wonder if we’ll ever be allowed to turn the page, and end our torment with the warmer, greener days of March.
It’s enough to drive a body insane…
Just when I think I can’t stand it one more second, and will be forced to buy a plane ticket to somewhere warm and umbrella-drinky, the Garden Show season arrives.
It begins each year, for me, in Providence, with the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show. Now in its 19th year, this little sister to the venerable Boston show (in March) never fails to please. It may be smaller in scope, but certainly not in quality.
Fittingly enough, this year’s theme for the show was “Gardening With Heart”, and it was co-sponsored by the American Heart Association. All of the display gardens took their cues from classic romantic songs, books and movies – ok, maybe not the MET School’s Lewis Carroll tribute (“Queen of Hearts”, first picture.). Can’t think of anything romantic about “Off with their heads!”, but the “Hearts” theme stands.
This year’s show had many delightful surprises. For one thing, the designers of the display gardens really branched out beyond the normal spring-show fare. Tulips, forsythia, and azaleas are relatively easy to force, and often dominate shows like this, along with potted evergreens. Pretty to look at for their bursts of color at a dreary time of year, but not particularly exciting. This year, there were lots of later-blooming plants to see – and smell! – like a tall Flowering Tobacco that doesn’t bloom until summer, that gave some displays the feel of a summer garden tour, and ideas that went beyond early spring. The hellebores in this photo were another change of pace – a spring-bloomer, but not one that is often seen in this region despite the fact that they grow well here. It’s all about new ideas, after all…
Another wonderful change this year – at least from my point of view – was the amount of space devoted to vegetables. This one, from Manna Farm in Charlestown, RI, was all about Urban Farming. This display had rows of herbs and veggies, vines like hops on the fence, mushrooms, small fruit trees and bushes, and a compost pile. The owner was giving a quick demonstration of worm composting to everyone who walked through. Needless to say, this was my favorite… Many other displays incorporated edibles into their landscapes as well.
One question, though – Would someone please tell me where I can get one of these witch hazel trees? I’ve been trying for years!
A very special “Thank You” to Laura and Patty for letting me tag-along with them to the show on Saturday after my Friday trip got rained-out. I’ll drive for Boston next month, if you want to go!