Much anticipated for several weeks as winter winds down, Mom and I attended the Ft. Wayne (IN) Home and Garden Show on its opening day. Walking into the Expo Hall at the Memorial Coliseum brought a smile to both our faces as we walked between all that greenness that you could also smell.
The show was heavier on the home than the garden, as usual, and since neither Mom nor I were all that interested in the home aspect of things, we breezed through those exhibits, with a stop to purchase a snack of German roasted pecans.
There was a King Tut replica exhibit that I suppose was nice enough, but it seemed a little strange to me to be looking at replicas of the actual items from his tomb. And even stranger that there were miniature replicas of the replicas available for purchase.
In the Garden Gallery, where we spent the most time, we browsed exhibits by several landscapers, nurseries and garden centers. There were several beautiful patio exhibits, but most were out of the realm of possibility for my property. Oh, we have the square footage to accommodate any of them, but even if the style matched our home, we couldn't afford the price tag. Still, they were fun to look at.
The emphasis was on stone, stone, and more stone, with water feature accents. As you first walked in, to the right was a unique water feature by Planscape. The stonescaping was beautiful, but the wow factor was provided by the waterfall. It seemed as if there was rain falling from one side of the pergola. I can just imagine how soothing it would be to relax there and listen to that.
Woodland Water Gardens of Columbia City had a display with a babbling brook, waterfalls, and footbridge that impressed me the most. It wasn't exactly the waterfalls, but the contemporary look and lines of the stone bridge that really got my attention.
There were squiggles cut into the stone to allow the water to pass through to the other side, where the water bed continued. I overheard many positive comments from other admirers while I was photographing the display.
Country View Greenhouse from South Whitley had a nice display with some of the less common perennials for sale. I returned to this vendor at least three times, making a purchase of a nice 'Red Lady' hellebore and speaking with the young owner. I was very impressed with him and what he had to offer and will be making a trip there when planting season rolls around. He specializes in rare plants and I'm anxious to see what else he has at his greenhouses.
The Three Rivers Orchid Society had a lot to drool over, besides offering advice about growing orchids. It took all the restraint I could muster to resist buying one, but it helps that I have a hard time making decisions. I just don't know which one I would have bought, had I decided to!
Always full of temptations is the area occupied by the Tulip Tree Gift Shop from the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. I've long known that this is a great place to pick up interesting plants at very reasonable prices and today was no different. For $8.50, I purchased a very healthy variegated Abutilon.
Another place to visit this summer will be Blue River Nursery, also near Columbia City. Though they didn't have a large display, I saw some of the most unusual trees and shrubs there.
Attracting a lot of attention and comment was the Golden Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph'). Even more attention-getting was the price of the larger one of two, which was less than three feet tall - $499. But not to worry. A much smaller version which was about a foot tall could be had for $109.
Okay, now for the highlight of the day...
If you've never had the pleasure of hearing this man speak, too bad for you. Mom had mentioned hearing him when she was in Atlanta a couple of years ago, and I have a couple of his books, including Tough Plants For Northern Gardens, but I didn't know what a wonderfully engaging person he was.
He was scheduled for several speaking sessions the first two days of the show, and Mom and I were in the front row for the first one. The small room was jam-packed and when it was nearing the time for him to end his presentation, the crowd asked him to keep going. Unfortunately for us, the room was scheduled for another session so he wasn't able to. He graciously autographed our books for us and we left, talking all the way down the hall about what a great time the last hour had been.
At this point, Mom and I parted ways and I went back to browse the Garden Gallery. I joined her awhile later in the children's area, where she had wanted to hear Felder again as he was to make a presentation about children's gardening. As I walked up, I noticed Mom and another woman sitting on chairs with Felder sandwiched between them, looking at his laptop. Apparently, they were the only two people who showed up.
I joined them and for the next hour or so, we four had great discussions about educational opportunities for teaching gardening to kids (and the lack of them), ideas for elements that can be incorporated into children's gardens, and more detailed discussion about some of what he had presented earlier. Mom and I felt very fortunate to have been able to spend the time in the company of such greatness.
Now Felder would probably scoff at that last sentence, because in spite of his numerous degrees and vast experience, this man is like your next-door neighbor. In fact, I wish he was my next-door neighbor, because then I could join him around his fire pit while sipping a beverage and shooting the breeze.
I like this man, because of his philosophy on gardening. If you like how you garden, then that's all that matters. What's important is that you garden and not be afraid to try things out of the ordinary. How many people do you know that have a bottle tree, a hanging pot planted with lettuce, and bags of potting soil planted with cabbage, pansies, artemisia, sedum, and euonymus growing in the back of their pick-up truck?
Felder, if you're out there and happen to read this: Thank you for what you do for the gardening world and for sharing a bit of yourself with us on Thursday. You, sir, have got it going on.