Flower Show Tips

One of the best ways to escape the winter chill is to visit one of the many spring flower shows being held this year. Flower shows are fantastic places to gather ideas, meet fellow gardeners and learn what is new on the gardening scene. Just remember to wear a good pair of walking shoes, because you will want to see everything and there will be a lot of ground to cover. Here are a few other tips that you will find helpful.

Before you head out, find out about parking and transportation to the show. Some shows are very congested, so public transportation may be the best way to get there. Or there may be a designated parking area with a shuttle to the show.

Find out what your ticket covers. If you are visually or physically impaired is a helper’s admission included in your ticket? Are children admitted? Can you leave and return to the show?

Purchase a program. Spending money on a program will save you time in the long run. Most programs contain maps of the show floor indicating the location of bathrooms, dining areas and other conveniences. Plus it will help you find any specific booths or displays you are interested in. I’m all for letting fate be your guide, but trust me when I say that a good time can quickly turn bad when you can’t find the bathroom.

Wear comfortable clothes and a good pair of walking shoes with waterproof soles. One year when lecturing at a large flower show I made the mistake of wearing a pair of nice dress shoes. Although the shoes may have looked nice for my talk, there was too much that I wanted to see to stay off my feet. Needless to say by the end of the day not only did my feet hurt, but my back and legs ached as well. Also, if the show has outdoor displays and rain is predicted, wear a raincoat rather than carry an umbrella because umbrellas are hard to manage in a crowd.

Bring a tote or backpack, a small camera, a pen and a notepad. Whenever I attend a flower show I always end up with a sizeable collection of brochures and business cards. I finally got wise one year and brought along a book bag to carry everything in. Write down the names of plants that you catch your eye. It is also a good idea to jot down a note on the back of business cards to remind yourself why you picked up the card in the first place. And, as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Most shows will allow you to photograph or even video tape displays.

If possible, schedule your visit during off peak hours. I prefer to visit flower shows during the week, rather than the weekend. There are less people so it is easier for me to see everything and booth vendors and garden designers have more time to talk. And early evening seems to be slower than morning or mid-day. Many shows offer an afternoon pass that is good from late afternoon until closing, which in many cases is as late as 8:00 p.m. Also, shows produced by a specific a horticultural society usually have days set aside for members only. This is just one of the many good reasons to join.