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Flower Shows Give a Hint Of Spring

Smuttynose Brewing has created an IPA as a tribute to Greg Noonan. (Courtesy Smuttynose Brewing)

Smuttynose Brewing has created an IPA as a tribute to Greg Noonan. (Courtesy Smuttynose Brewing)

I’m not much for going to the movies, but I remember a film from the 1960s that opened with people in large fur hats and cumbersome boots trudging across a snow-swept plain somewhere in Russia. Doctor Zhivago, perhaps? Sometimes it seems that we’re all in that movie. If you’re finding winter dreary, you need to go to one of the many spring flower shows — or maybe all of them.

The first show, consisting entirely of orchids, is put on by the New Hampshire Orchid Society. This year it is Feb. 14-16. It features orchids of all kinds and paraphernalia for orchid growers. Tickets for adults are $10, seniors $6, kids under 12 free. It’s at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua. For info: www.nhorchids.org.

The first big shows are Feb. 20-23 in Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn. They both are excellent and worth a visit. They’ll have flowering trees and luscious flowers, a multitude of vendors selling everything from bulbs and cut flowers to books and vases, and, of course, educational lectures. The Providence show has always been one of my favorites. (Full disclosure: I am lecturing Friday and Saturday.)

This year the Providence show is including vintage cars in the garden displays. Chuck Carberry, one of the show’s organizers, told me that each major exhibit will include an antique or vintage car — from a Model A Ford in a Great Gatsby-themed garden to a ’70s Ferrari in an Italian grotto garden. Not only that, the show will feature an old-time drive-in theater.

I love the sand sculptures at the Providence show. This year, given the car theme, they are going to have an old-fashioned “woodie” made of sand. The sculptors work on their creations during much of the show, so you can see how they do what they do. The same is true of the designers of flower exhibits, who will be on hand to answer questions. For info go to: www.flowershow.com.

The Hartford show is held at the Connecticut Convention Center, which is a great space for such a big show — handy to the interstate, with plenty of parking. They pride themselves on their seminars, 12 per day, Friday to Sunday. The Federated Garden Clubs have a big space on the show floor, allowing individual exhibitors to show off their house plants, cactuses and arrangements. Tickets are $16, and unlike at most shows, they accept cash only. So fill your wallet before you go. Info: www.ctflowershow.com.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is March 1-9. It is the original flower show, having started in 1829, and certainly the biggest and most expensive. Daily tickets are $27 and they sell a VIP all-access ticket for $125. But you have to attend at least once in your life. Go during the week when crowds are smaller. I love this show for its sheer size and diversity. And there are lots of exhibits by ordinary gardeners, which I like. For info: theflowershow.com.

The Portland Flower Show in Maine is March 5-9 at the Portland Company Complex on Fore Street. Tickets cost $13 in advance. Info: http://portlandcompany.com.

The Boston Flower Show is another extravaganza. This year, designers have been asked to “create a small freestanding garden inspired by a scene of romance or seduction from a specific, named piece of literature, a movie or a popular song.” It’s being held March 12-16 at the Seaport World Trade Center. Tickets are $20 — and worth it. For info: www.bostonflowershow.com. Get there at opening time (10 a.m. during the week, 9 a.m. on the weekend) before the crowds get too big.

After Boston comes The Seacoast Home and Garden Show in Durham March 29-30. It’s a nice small show with 220 vendors and a reasonable fee to get in, with tickets just $8. Info: www.NewEnglandExpos.com.

The last show of the season is in Maine on April 4-6 in the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, a new venue. This is another small show, but it sounds good. I’ve never been to this one, but I see that this year they will have a beer tasting garden. For info: www.bangorgardenshow.com.

The Vermont Flower Show is on an every-other-year schedule, and this is an off year. But there are plenty of shows to visit, and it’s fun to see so many cheery people walking around carrying blooming daffodils or pussywillows that they have purchased to bring spring home a little early. So get off the couch and go.

Henry Homeyer is the author of four gardening books. His web site is www.gardening-guy.com.