The garden show – day one


Today, construction begins on the display for our annual garden show. Certainly, few people see anything but the final result of the week’s work, so I’ll stop at intervals to document the garden as it’s put together. I have plenty of time for photo taking since I’m here to supervise. I’m a bit over the hill to be moving boulders and large trees, though I most definitely will not admit this to the fellows doing the heavy lifting. I’m certain to chip in occasionally, at least enough to get in the way.

Set up for the garden begins with a bare concrete floor and an empty building
Set up for the garden begins with a bare concrete floor and an empty building

In fact, construction began a few weeks ago in the large garage area of our Landscape office. While trucks are repaired and readied for spring nearby, a stone columned structure was built by carpenters. The small building was then broken into pieces to be moved and rebuilt at the garden show site.

While the design for the show was prepared a few months ago, the particulars of the final design remain in question. Spring flowering bulbs and perennials have been ordered from a local greenhouse, but evergreens that have been purchased from Oregon that were scheduled for arrival late last week have been nixed due to the recent chilly temperatures.

The corners of the garden structure are set and entry steps are placed
The corners of the garden structure are set and entry steps are placed

I wouldn’t be happy traveling across this country in the back of an unheated truck in February, and neither would the spruces and cypresses planned for the garden. So, alternatives will have to do. I expect that I will be perfectly satisfied with the changes.

The design of a garden show is one part inspiration, one part marketing to give visitors a late winter taste of spring, and another part considering what can be constructed in a limited time period. The garden for this show is relatively small, and many times smaller compared to gardens we’ve constructed in the past.

The corners and roof of the structure are set, and part of the patio is built by the end of the first half day
The corners and roof of the structure are set, and part of the patio is built by the end of the first half day

There have been times when twenty-five of our best people worked long hours for four days to get this thing completed on time, but this week we’ll finish in a couple easy days with half as many folks. While the construction is great fun, and a wonderful excuse to break the daily routine, the best will come this weekend when the show opens.

As the construction of the display moves along I’ll add more photos at the end of each day until it’s complete. Then, if you live nearby, it would be great if you’d stop in over the weekend to say hello. There’s hardly a thing that’s more enjoyable than talking gardening with people, and I’ll be there through the weekend to talk until I lose my voice.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Peters says:

    What’s the location and date?

    1. Dave says:

      The Capital Remodel and Garden Show, February 27 – March 1 at the Dulles Expo in Chantilly, Virginia is only marginally a garden show, though there have been times in the twenty years I’ve been designing a garden for this show when the space allotted for gardens was more substantial. Today, it is difficult to find companies to participate in constructing temporary gardens. The cost of forced bulbs, materials, and labor are prohibitive for many small companies, and the return is quite marginal. Still, this is one of the enjoyable weeks of the year.

  2. Anne says:

    Dave, I love your blog, your encyclopedic knowledge, and your healthy embrace of procrastination! I usually read on my phone and it’s difficult to send proper comment. Consider this a “thank you” for many months of reading! And I echo the previous comment – what is the location, date/time of the show? I need me some SPRING!

    1. Dave says:

      I will be certain to pass on to my wife your praise of my encyclopedic knowledge. She knows that I need no further encouragement. I don’t know that I have made my anxiousness for spring so obvious in recent weeks, but I am desperately in need of spring. The preparation for this garden show is a temporary fix, and I expect the following week to be mild and warm, regardless of what is forecast.

  3. bittster says:

    Speaking for gardeners everywhere I just want to say thank you for still adding the flowers and plants which so many home and garden shows are stepping away from. I understand what you say about costs and marginal returns, but it’s the reason I head out and brave the crowds. I need that temporary fix too!

    1. Dave says:

      At least for me, the design of a garden show display is influenced by a variety of concerns. In this busy show it is important to allow visitors to get out of the aisles, and I also prefer people to be able to enter the garden rather than viewing it only from the outside. The challenge is to keep the hardscaping elements to a minimum so that the display remains a garden. Despite the expense, there’s no substitute for daffodils and tulips in a spring garden show. I do try to keep hyacinths to a minimum since I work the display twelve hours a day and the scent can be a bit too much after a while.

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