Two years ago, when I was in the toddler stage of growing into a bona fide gardener, my mom suggested we go to the Cleveland Botanical Garden Flower Show. I'd never been to a flower show in my life, and with my new hobby obsessiveness at a fever pitch, I more than welcomed the opportunity. I was blown away by the enormity and beauty of all aspects of both the Botanical Gardens and the show, and you know how it is - there's nothing like your first time.
I don't remember what all I purchased there, but the two things that stick in my mind are my 'Sahohime' Tree Peony and my 'Clear Sky' Passiflora, both purchased from the Lowe's Greenhouse (not the national chain) vendor booth. I have both of these yet today; in fact, they are thriving.
This is a great way to start out the active gardening season. It's like going on a Parade of Homes tour - you want to come home and try to implement so many things you saw that you liked for your own gardens.
Several home and garden and flower shows later, and with much more horticultural experience and knowledge under my belt, I didn't expect to be blown away a second time when we attended this year's rendition of the Cleveland Show, but that's just what happened.
The theme for this year's show was "Rhythm & Hues." From the moment we stepped into the ticketing entrance, where giant floral specimens in test tube vases formed the musical notes on the staff...
...all the way through to the theme gardens...
... we experienced the presence of music interpreted through plants and flowers in a variety of creative ways.
After viewing the outdoor displays, we went inside the main building and first checked out the specimen judgings. Mom is a horticulture judge, so she views these exhibits a little differently than I do, but neither of us enjoys them any less than the other. Here, the peonies were especially nice, but that may be because it's peony season here now.
It was at this point that I heard from Kim (blackswamp_girl), and learned that we would not be meeting up today as we'd planned. She had a sick puppy and had to take her to the vet. Thankfully, Coco is going to be okay, and while I was disappointed that I didn't get to see Kim, we made plans to get together when she's home in July, home being about twenty minutes from my house! I invited her to come see my garden and she is going to do that, so I look forward to our meeting!
Mom and I ate lunch there, then continued our journey through the show. In this same building, there were floral arrangements that were meant to interpret different aspects of music --
Note that it says at the bottom, "Class titles are open to broad interpretation." Give a floral arranger license to practice their creativity and you get marvelous things like these:
Just outside this building were floral vignettes and a 'dining area' that itself looked good enough to eat.
There were lots of wonderful vendors selling the usual wares that you see at these shows, such as garden decor, hypertufa items, clothing, plants and flowers, jewelry, garden tools, etc. The tents are erected along garden paths and walkways, making the marketplace a very enjoyable place to shop. While I managed to escape the Botanical Garden Gift Shop unscathed, these vendors were another matter.
I bought a dragonfly garden stake, another one that says "GROW," a four foot tall decorative plant support, and a garden plaque. No plants! That task would be saved for the next day, when Mom and I had plans to visit some of the Cleveland area's larger nurseries and garden centers.
Though the show is only held every two years, a trip to the Botanical Gardens themselves are worth at least a yearly visit. Woodland walks as well as the theme gardens are overflowing with natural beauty interspersed with planned displays. You can easily spend the day enjoying what the gardens have to offer.
The Hershey Children's Garden was of special interest to Mom, since she is heavily involved with the creation of the new children's garden in Van Wert.
When we walked into that part of the garden, Amelia was enjoying the fountain on this very hot day and several people were also enjoying her enjoying it. Squeals of delight and splashing around in her birthday suit created much conversation and smiles among the adults, and some of us wished we could do what she was doing. One woman, who shall remain nameless, did not share the wish to 'return to nature' with the rest of us, but it wasn't me!
It was fun to see the child-sized features of the Children's Garden and also to watch the kids partaking of the many opportunities relating to nature.
The Hershey Children's Garden was the first public children's garden in the United States, opening in 1999. It's very much a hands-on place and this part of the CBG alone is worth the price of admission if you have children. As you enter, you will see this quote impressed into the concrete:
~ Luther Burbank, 1920
For the flower show, the theme in the Children's Garden was "Over the Rainbow," and you could see that theme carried out in many aspects of the garden. I suspect that these colors are present here in abundance even when there isn't a show going on, because of their brightness and cheeriness.
I'm sure there were many aspects of the Flower Show that we missed, including the various seminars, but we still were quite happy having made the 200-mile trip and we'll undoubtedly attend the next show in 2009.