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Get growing: It’s flower show time

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Mr. Groundhog claims we will have an early spring but he could fool New Englanders who are buried under two feet or snow or more. It’s definitely time to catch a whiff of spring at regional flower shows. Luck for us they open next week in Hartford and Providence. It’s worth the drive to see the imaginative landscape displays, innovative flower arrangements and new cultivars. There are also wonderful seminars as well as tempting commercial booths.

Both shows open Thursday and continue through Sunday. The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, just an hour down the interstate from Northampton or Amherst, is at the Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford. There are 20 landscape garden displays including naturalistic, low-maintenance and organic gardens. Among the speakers are Roger Swain, “the man in the red suspenders,” known for his years on “The Victory Garden” on PBS; Gordon Hayward, Vermont landscape designer; Sydney Eddison of Connecticut, who has written a number of great garden books; Karen Bussolini and Ellen Hoverkamp, whose flower scan photography is featured in a recent book by Ken Druse. Ellen Ecker Ogden, keynote speaker last year at the master gardener symposium in South Deerfield, is another speaker and Phil Costello of South Hadley will lecture on landscape lighting, his specialty. Finally, Barbara Damrosch of Maine will offer a seminar and a signing of her new book.

Admission is $16, seniors $14 on Thursday and Friday. The show opens at 10 a.m. each day, closes at 7 p.m. on Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The Rhode Island Flower and Garden Show at the Rhode Island Convention Center is a bit farther to drive, two hours instead of only one, but it is usually well worth the effort. It’s right off the interstate with convenient parking. Don’t miss the display by the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society. It is usually the highlight of the show for me.

Among the speakers in Providence will be Kevin O’Connor of “This Old House” on PBS, Julie Moir Messervy of Vermont and Kerry Mendez of New York, Mike and Angelina Chute, rose experts, and representatives from the New York and Brooklyn botanical gardens. There will be demonstrations, Friday through Sunday, on pruning, lavender, roses and peonies as well as combating Lyme disease and conserving water.

Tickets are $19, seniors and students $16. The hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The Central Massachusetts Flower and Patio Show is March 1-3 in Worcester. It is a much smaller show with more emphasis on patios than on gardens. Admission is $10, seniors $9.

The venerable Boston Flower Show will be March 13-17 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

And, just around the corner, is the first weekend in March when the bulb shows open at Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges. In the meantime, enjoy some inspiration for your own garden at one of the regional flower and garden shows.

SEED STARTING: Maura Brown’s workshop on seed starting at Annie’s Garden & Gift Store in North Amherst was postponed due to the snow and will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. Brown will discuss transplanting, cold frames and other season extenders as well as basics of starting seeds indoors. The session is free but registration is requested at 549-6359.

HOME LANDSCAPE: Got problems with your home landscape? Learn some solutions tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Hadley Garden Center as local garden designer Debbie Windoloski gives an illustrated lecture on perfecting your landscape. The talk is free. Call 584-1423 for more information. Last week’s workshop on small fruits is postponed until Sunday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m.

SILENT SPRING: The last of three lecture-discussions, “Reading Silent Spring Together,” is tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Jones Library in Amherst. Jan Dizard, social scientist at Amherst College, will lead the discussion on “Our Threatened Future.” The series focuses on “Silent Spring,” the book by Rachel Carson that disclosed the dangers of DDT and other pesticides. The book was published 50 years ago. The program is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. Space is limited; the previous two sessions were standing room only. Register at wwmgasilentspring@gmail.com.

VEGETABLE GARDENING: Michelle Owens, a New Yorker who is part of the group producing Garden Rant blog, will speak tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge on “The Minimal Vegetable Garden.” The fee is $35. Register by calling 298-3926 or online at berkshirebotanical.org.

ORCHID SHOW: The Amherst Orchid Society’s annual show is Feb. 23 and 24 at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton. The local group creates a fascinating display of home-grown orchids. In addition there are competitive displays, educational displays and booths of well-known orchid vendors. Come get hooked on these tropical beauties. Yes, many of them can be grown on a windowsill. Next week’s Valley Gardens column here will feature one of the local growers. The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $3.

HIDCOTE: The head gardener of Hidcote Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds of England will give the annual Winter Lecture sponsored by the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. Glyn Jones will discuss “Back to the Future: The Garden at Hidcote.” This famous estate garden was created in the early 20th century by American Lawrence Johnson and is a must see for visitors to British gardens. The fee is $42. Tickets usually sell out so call 298-3926 or register online at berkshirebotanical.org.

ECO LANDSCAPE: The 19th annual conference sponsored by the Ecological Landscape Association is Feb. 27 and 28 in Springfield. Information is available online at www.ecolandscaping.org. The conference features many workshops plus optional dinners with special speakers.

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