Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thanks for making it easier:
Fun at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show

If you haven’t had a chance to see the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, take the time. It’s worth it. The theme was “The Sport of Gardening” this year. The vendors and builders were all very friendly and the trend of growing green themes were found in everything from green roofs and vertical walls, to backyard chicken coups. The chicken coup idea was interesting, since I do live in a residential neighborhood that allows chickens. Closer to our downtown area, from time-to-time, you will find a brazen rooster strutting his stuff down the street.

The tulip display designed and installed by Joe Vandenvlugt of Doornbosch Brothers (Booth no. 548)
Conferences and door prizes are great fun, but at the end of the day, I'm still far more fascinated by functionality than flirtation. I joined the group of Garden Writer's Association at the 2011 Chicago Flower and Garden Show to get a preview of the gardens, network, and learn about what's being done in the garden industry that is new and exciting. The garden vignettes were all fantastic. There were many inspiring ideas that were applicable in the home garden.

Events like these are places where vendors can really show off their stuff too. It pleases some. It irritates others. I really like to take a close hard look at new products. When I see a new product, I often wonder if this is something that should have been pushed on late night TV. Should it have been lost before the public had a chance to view it? I'm looking for well thought out things that I can use.  Products that make life easier, or inventive ways of doing something else are the products that catch my eye.

The door prizes from the sponsors of the GWA regional meeting were great. One of the prizes I walked away with was a set of PowerGear® Bypass Pruners from Fiskars. In my mind, Fiskars reinvented themselves when they introduced gears to their line of loppers and pruners. Coming from a long line of farmers and DIYers, our hands have had a pretty tough life. Tools like these really make a difference.

Smith and Hawken gave away gift boxes filled with durable work gloves and a gift card. Gurney's Seed and Nursery Co. gave Carmine Jewel dwarf bush cherry plants to everybody--adorable, and The Seed Keeper Company added "What did I plant" labels to the goody bags. These are all things that are nice additions to my gardening needs.

The SimplySalad display and dinner in my kitchen.

The last parting gift was a table center piece containing the City Garden Mixture of the SimplySalad program by PanAmerican Seed. These are easy to grow, and packed in pre-mixed pellets. This presentation certainly does makes a great festive center piece. A pleasant surprise, but I honestly questioned the value of it. I was afraid that these would fade or look miserable as the Central Illinois weather heats up, but realized that it is lettuce...you eat it, and replant when it is cool again, just like you would in other areas of your garden. I think it'll be a success.

So I say thank you to the GWA and CFGS for a conference well done, the vendors who are making an honest effort to change the way we work in our gardens, and thanks to Ball Horticulture for my dinner.

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