Find Gardening Inspiration in Hartford, CT
The 29th annual Connecticut Flower & Garden Show runs February 18 through 21, 2010 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. You'll find inspiration in abundance at this expansive gardening show, which features 25 display gardens, prize-winning horticultural contest entries, free seminars and vendors selling everything from garden tools and accents to jewelry, crafts and food products.
I had the opportunity to tour the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show on opening day, and my photos will provide you with a preview of one of New England's largest flower shows. The event is truly a treat for the senses, offering nearly three acres of enticing displays and helpful on-site experts to answer your gardening questions as you take notes and make plans for a bloom-filled growing season.
Here's everything you need to know if you're planning to go...
Hours: Thursday, February 18 - 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Friday, February 19 - 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Saturday, February 20 - 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sunday, February 21 - 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
2010 Theme: The Spice of Life
Location: The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show is held at the Connecticut Convention Center, located at 100 Columbus Boulevard in Hartford, Connecticut. Ample paid parking is available on-site.
Admission: Admission to the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (Thursday and Friday only), $2 for children ages 7 to 14 and free for children under age 7. Tickets may be purchased on site, cash only.
Questions? Call 860-844-8461.
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Of the 25 landscape installations at the 2010 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, this serene scene by Aquascapes of Connecticut was definitely a standout. It must be an incredible amount of work to create a display garden of this magnitude inside a convention center. Aquascapes of Connecticut's design incorporates a placid pond with meandering streams and waterfalls, a stone sculpture and a sailboat outfitted with a romantic picnic for two.
See the Italian Countryside... in Connecticut
I also loved the elaborate Italianate garden scene created by Killingworth, Connecticut-based StoneBridge Craftsmen. A large stone arch framed this charming landscape: yet another interpretation of "The Spice of Life." StoneBridge Craftsmen's statement about the display read: "Imagine yourself in this modest home enjoying the simple pleasures of life: a home-cooked meal, fine wine, shared and enjoyed with good friends and family."
A Water Oasis
This late-winter water oasis was designed to conjure up "The Spice of Life" theme through sounds and smells, as well as its vivid color palette. You have to attend the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in Hartford for yourself, of course, to savor the soothing melody of water running over rocks and the fragrance of witch hazel and honey-scented Fothergilla.
Music and Lights
"Welcome Home" was the theme of Aquascapes of Connecticut's second landscape design entry. While the pergola-shaded backyard dining area was attractive, it was this colorful fountain, with a synchronized musical accompaniment, that made Connecticut Flower and Garden Show visitors stop and take note.
One of my favorite parts of the 2010 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show was the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut's Standard Flower Show, which echoed the "Spice of Life" theme. There were more than 250 judged entries from across the state on view.
The winning entries were so creative, and I found myself comparing the "challenges" presented by each Division and Class of entry to the Iron Chef cooking show. Entrants had free range to choose ingredients for this flower battle, but they were judged on how well they executed the theme in dozens of categories, as well as on such things as balance, flow and color scheme.
Betsy Nininger took top honors for her design in the photo above. The judges particularly liked her use of color, contrast and interesting plant materials: dried okra blossoms, pods, mini cotton blossoms and Harry Lauder's Walking Stick.
Scent and Spice
See if you can spot these "ingredients," incorporated by Jacqueline Connell into her winning miniature floral design: willow, eucalyptus, lichen, cinnamon, Dendrobium orchids.
Marilyn Bertotti took the blue ribbon in this category for her gorgeous floral frame, created with dried spray roses, dried hydrangea, dried orchids, raffia palm and limonium. The judges praised her entry's graceful flow. I would love to have this piece in my home!
In contrast, I couldn't imagine actually wearing any of the amazing jewelry made from plants submitted in the "Bright Bling" category, but those designs are definitely worth seeing if you have a chance to visit the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show this year.
Plants for Sale
Of course, for most visitors, the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show's myriad vendors selling plants, garden tools and accents, landscape services and other garden-related products are a huge part of the event's appeal. More than 100 exhibitors have booths at the show, and sellers were eager to answer would-be buyers' questions about how to best incorporate specific flowers and plants into their own home landscapes.
As I was walking around the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show (and it covers nearly three acres, so wear comfortable shoes), I posted this update to my Twitter account: "There is a surprising amount of great shopping at the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show."
I'm not much of a gardener, but I was surprised by how much fun I had browsing the booths at the show. And, although I didn't expect to shop, I did buy two things: a framed pair of colorful, real butterflies from EF International and a bottle of Wasabi Ginger Finishing Sauce (one of my favorite New England food products) from Massachusetts-based Bittersweet Herb Farm.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of reviewing this event. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Ethics Policy