Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Boston Flower and Garden Show

After a one year lay-off the flower show has returned to Boston. I attended only one day of this 5 day event (March 24-28) and I was generally pleased with what I saw. For me the new venue, the Seaport World Trade Center was an improvement over the previous site. Most notably for me was the improved lighting which allows the display gardens look more ‘natural’.

Another change for this year was that the vendors and the garden displays were in the same area. This provided a nice, balanced mix of things to see. The competitive horticulture displays were located in a separate area which allowed for more intimate viewing.

Judging by the crowds there on a weekday, the show was successful. I heard from a friend that Saturday’s crowd was huge. So it sounds like the show was a success from an attendance point of view.

While the overall lighting was better than in the former location, I found that the use of tinted lighting over some of the garden displays was a disaster. For example, some display used blue-green tints on the arborvitae and reddish lighting on the rhododendrons. I could not tell what the plants actually looked like when the colors are rigged to ‘enhance’ them.

I was only there one day (Friday) and I found the lectures and demonstrations to be quite good. A few take away gems are:
Edible Landscaping with Paul Split, who talked about incorporating many conventional herbs in the landscape in unconventional ways. He also touched on companion planting and using plants to control pests. Some of his great ideas included using a ring of hostas (dense root mass) to control the spread of mints in a bed; use leeks to slow the spread of underground insects and pennyroyal to block insects crawling on the surface of the ground.

Listening to the landscape: Using Nature’s Cues to Design a Garden that Works by Scott LeFleur of the New England Wildflower Society. The key point I took away was that if you select plants that are right for the conditions on your site (light, water, soil conditions, etc.) then you do not need to add any additional materials, like fertilizers and soil amendments or extra water, to have a successful planting. Another comment was that it is best not to put debris from invasive plants into your compost pile, in this case, landfilling or burning is the better option.

The most energetic presentation of the day came from Kathleen Gagan of Peony’s Envy with her Passion for Peonies. This talk was full of excellent information on peonies, both herbaceous and tree types, and I took two pages of notes. There is a ton of information on the company website and I won’t recount much of it here. The only point I will share here is that some tree peonies are grafted onto the roots of herbaceous plants and that it is critical that these be planted deeply with the graft union about 6” underground. This will keep the rootstock from putting up new growth. Non-grafted tree types should be planted about 2” below ground level.

Most unique vendor I saw was Designer Palms Inc.  They make and sell steel palm trees many with lighted coconuts. At first I was aghast, but then, when I considered them as garden or poolside sculptures, they began to grow on me. In the right setting these could be a really unique accent or focal point in a garden where you want a tropical feel.

Next week it’s back to Native Plants!


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I rather like the stone lily-pad in the middle of the pond-shot with the rhododendrons. The steel palm trees are impressive, albeit not really to my taste. Did the Boston show have many native plant vendors? There were a few at the SF garden show this last weekend, although not as many as I might have expected.

Curtis said...

There were not any 'Native Plant' vendors or displays that feature 100% native species that I noticed. The Native Plant focus was present in some of the presentations and the conservation-focused groups like the New England Wildflower Society and Trustees of the Reservations who were present.

The commercial green industry show, New England Grows, had a strong showing of native plant suppliers in early February.

Sylvana said...

Sweet shots! I loved the stone lilypad with the moss. And although I could find no place in my own garden for ginormous steel palm trees, I could definitely see their appeal.