Friday, February 27, 2009

Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show - 2009

Let the gardening season begin!

For us - meaning Mom and me - the Ft. Wayne Home & Garden Show is the kick-off for the gardening season. No, we can't go home from it and run right out and start digging in the dirt, but we start really planning for the not-far-away days when we can. Seeds are bought, maybe some bulbs, and we get to see some perennials up close that we might want to get for our gardens.

We arrived at the Memorial Coliseum a few minutes before the doors opened to the general public, but since we were both members of the AHS, we got to enter through the exhibitors' door - early even! The usual hallway of spring blooms greeted us as we made our way into the garden expo hall.

Landscape displays were to the left...


and center...

...but we made a beeline for the rear of the hall, where Dr. Lori was going to be speaking at noon.

Dr. Lori is a certified fine art and antiques appraiser, an award-winning TV personality and TV talk show host, and a nationally syndicated columnist. Today, she was offering one free antique appraisal and I'd brought one of the books in my Winnie-the-Pooh collection - a 1946 French edition.

What makes my French Pooh book unique, besides being a relatively rare item, is that I believed it to be signed by A.A. Milne. The inscription didn't contain "A.A. Milne," rather it was signed, "For Vi, From blue," with the familiar fluorish under the name. But I knew that Milne was known to his friends and family as "Blue."

My turn came and Dr. Lori asked me how I acquired the book (online from a used book store in France) and what I'd paid for it. She explained that it was a relatively rare item, in good condition (though it had some acid burn on the dust jacket), and confirmed that it was indeed signed by Milne. When all was said and done, her appraisal was over 300 times what I'd paid for it. I was a happy girl! No plans to sell it just now, though.

Now that that was out of the way, we proceeded to check out the various gardening displays and exhibits. I always love to visit the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory booth, because they bring so many wonderful plants from their greenhouse, with extremely reasonable prices on them.

This year was no exception, and though my intention upon attending this year's show was to just look and not buy, I was a goner when I saw the variegated Bougainvillea in bloom and the variegated Jade plant. Sold. Both of them!

The next favorite spot for me is the Three Rivers Orchid Society booth.

Ohhhh, such loveliness and fragrance all in one spot! There were several beautiful orchids for sale, but I settled for taking some pictures of some of my favorites.

I spoke with one of the members regarding the lack of rebloom of a couple of my orchids, and she provided some advice (repot and move to a new location).

I don't know if it's because this is my third year in a row attending the show, but I was underwhelmed by the landscaping displays. There wasn't much new in the way of design or hardscape and the lack of actual plantings didn't help. I did like the use of large flat rocks for walkways, in comparison to the use of smaller ones so commonly seen.

In the aisles between displays were several extremely large stone or clay pots heavily planted and situated with park benches. These were quite attractive and lots of positive comments were overheard as we passed by them.

We paid a visit to the booths of local garden centers and nurseries, several of which were familiar to us from previous shows. Lots of wonderful offerings were there for the buying, but I resisted since I'd already purchased two more plants than I'd intended.

Succulents of all kinds seemed to be in abundance and I wondered if it was a reflection of the hot, dry summers we've had in recent years.

There were several booths by businesses that didn't have plants to sell, but plenty of garden decor and whimsy.

Rusty Gate Decor
(Notice the bird feeder stakes.)

One of my favorite displays was by DeWald Gardens, new to the show this year.

DeWald Gardens is the first greenhouse in Indiana and one of only four nationwide to receive the distinction of "Up and Coming Greenhouse Business for 2008" . Steve and Maria DeWald both have had successful careers as plant research scientists and have Ph.Ds in horticulture. Maria, who was born in Italy and lived in Venezuela (her accent is charming!), has had her container designs featured in several gardening magazines.

Their display showed a lot of class and I loved the pottery. There were beautifully planted containers, several healthy coleus cultivars (one of their specialties), and a gorgeous Japanese Maple bonsai for sale. I had a delightful conversation with the owner and plan to visit them in the coming months.

We left the garden expo hall and walked over to the home section of the show. Here was where you could see exhibits for home improvement, lawn equipment, cooking equipment, and various other related businesses. There were plenty of food items for sale and sample as well.

One of the more unusual booths was by River City Links, which is an 18-hole putting course in Ft. Wayne. It is a well-known fact that I am the black sheep of a golfing family, due to my lack of ability to cause a driver to make contact with a teeny tiny white ball, no matter how hard I concentrate on keeping my head down.

Both of our girls played on their college golf teams and went to state with their high school golf team, no thanks to my genes. However, I can putt. Go figure. River City Links gave the opportunity to make a hole-in-one for a free round of golf. Mom and I both managed to do it, so guess what we will be doing this summer?

I'm not sure why home and garden shows feature exotic pets, but it's not the first time we've seen this. At the Indianapolis show Mom and I attended last year, there were sugar gliders. Today's show in Ft. Wayne had snakes. Now I happen to think snakes are cool, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm, so I've kept the photo of the milk and corn snakes to the right at thumbnail size. If you would like to see it in all its glorious, scaly beauty, just click on it.

I still had a few dollars burning a hole in my pocket, so I purchased a couple of packets of seeds from Renee's Garden (sold by the Conservatory): Cerinthe 'Pride of Gibralter' (Cerinthe major atropurpurea) and Butterfly Monarda 'Bergamo Bouquet' (Monarda hybrida). Both are annuals here. The Allen County Public Library was giving away free packets of French Dwarf Marigold seeds at the Master Gardener's booth, so we picked up one of those, too.

Mom and I both purchased new hose nozzles, invented by a fireman, and guaranteed for life and guaranteed not to leak. If they'd been cheaper (we paid $25 each), I would have bought three of them instead of just one, but one of the nice features is the washer is integrated so no worries about losing it when switching it from one hose to another.

One of the fun things about going to a local home and garden show such as this is that you run into people that you haven't seen in awhile. Both of us saw several friends and acquaintances and stopped to chat for a little bit before moving on. We left the show buoyed by the goodness of it all and with a lighter heart, in spite of the cold wind that greeted us as we went out the door.

Spring is on the way!

Witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’) in full bloom at the show, courtesy of Blue River Nursery.

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