Gardeners, garden writers, homeowners, nursery people, friends, and family:
It is with deep sadness and an aching heart that we gather today to mourn the passing of of a beloved event that has meant so much to each of us — the Spring Flower Show.
As we all know, winter in the South is often a dreary time of cold, wet landscapes devoid of color. How we looked forward to the Spring Flower Show, when we would gather together in a great hall filled with hundreds of trees, shrubs, bulbs, vines, and unknown wonders in full bloom arranged into magnificent gardens that would take our breath away.
We would chat with plant growers about their latest and greatest creations, inevitably taking home a plant or two that caught our eye like an eager puppy waiting to be adopted. We would stroll down indoor avenues lined with booths of garden vendors showing off the latest eco-friendly fertilizers, cutting-edge tools, magic soils, and next-generation pest controls. We despaired at how a single day wasn’t enough to see it all and that the tote bag that came with the admission price was woefully too small to carry all our goodies and free samples.
Well, maybe it’s the economy, maybe it’s the loss of sponsors, or maybe it’s the loss of seasoned leadership. No matter — the sad fact is, one of the South’s great flower shows is a mere shadow of itself.
Now I’m not going to tell you which flower show it is (other than it’s in a very large Southeastern city) or who’s sponsoring it (I like my job). And I don’t want to offend the many volunteers who put in a lot of hours trying to put on a first-class event. Having said that (if you watch Simon Cowell on “American Idol,” you know nothing good ever follows these three words), when my colleague Rebecca Reed and I ponied up $18 a head and walked into the hall, our jaws hit the ground faster than that meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.
“THIS IS IT??!!!” we said incredulously.
See, there were two eensy-weensy things wrong here. First, a Flower Show is supposed to be filled with displays of ………ummmmm, flowers. Scarcely a flower in the whole place. And when you shell out 18 bucks for admission, you’re not supposed to be able to see everything of note in approximately 18 minutes. I mean, it’s not like we paid for an audience with the Pope!
Now here’s the strangest thing. This show signed up an absolutely first-class slate of nationally known garden speakers. So you would think somebody would have provided them with a first-class venue for making their presentations. Nope. The acoustics were so incredibly bad that you had trouble hearing if you were more than 25 feet away. And no one could see the Power Point shows because bright light lights shone down directly above the stage, like the speaker was undergoing an FBI interrogation.
I guess a couple of things should have tipped us off that 2010 was going to be a down year for this thing. First, instead of the expected convention center, this one was held in a half-vacant mall. Second, even though we arrived in the middle of the day, we had absolutely no problem in finding a nearby parking space.
I had planned on taking lots of photos there. Heck, I’d even brought extra camera batteries. I wanted to show you, faithful and inquisitive Grumpians, some of the new and exciting plants you were going to be able to try this year. I walked every inch of the show,looking for something of interest.I would have liked to see something really cool and magnificent, like the spectacular blooms of the royal poinciana (Delonix regia), shown above. But that tree’s growing in Mexico.
I left without taking a single shot.
Grumpy hopes your local flower show fares better. Be sure and ask them this question before you give them your money: “Are there any flowers in there?”