July 15, 2020

Get Thee to the Garden Show: Where 3 Seasons Are 1

Calla lilies, Bangor Garden Show 2012

Janine Pineo Photo | Calla lilies, Bangor Garden Show 2012

• By Janine Pineo •

Only at a garden show can you have a highbush blueberry dripping with fruit, Asiatic lilies blooming and tulips in full flower. Add in rows of calla lilies, a fig with what looked like tiny figs emerging and magnolias in glorious abandon, and the dreamlike state is confirmed.

Bangor’s Garden Show opened Friday at the Bangor Auditorium with eight greenscapes full of artfully placed rocks, soothing water features and a substantial collection of plants that ran the gamut from  lush displays of vegetables and herbs to an evergreen that had to be near 20 feet tall.

"The Maine I Love" display, Bangor Garden Show 2012

Janine Pineo Photo | "The Maine I Love" display, Bangor Garden Show 2012

The variety of plants was a treat to behold, but there were also tiny details that made looking at the displays a bit of a game to see if one could spot that little thing the designer tucked in.

At “The Maine I Love” seashore garden, there were buoys in the trees and books on the shelves. And seemingly embedded in the earth in one shadowy corner was a wash of seashells, seaweed and driftwood along with a lone sneaker encrusted with green stuff, partially buried and looking for all the world like it came ashore months ago. This was all set to the rhythmic blast of a distant foghorn.

The list of plants from that display from Hickory Dickory Decks injected some humor into the proceedings by identifying the commonly called “Running shoe” as “Plantar flexis borealis,” while the rusty Esso oil can planted under the buoy tree was “Cannus petrolia.”

At the “Sounds of Summer” display, a quaint shed had rivulets of rain falling from the eaves while the little brook at the doorstep bubbled soothingly. Birds chirped and called, making one just want to step under the overhang and rest a spell.

Pink flowering dogwood, Bangor Garden Show 2012

Janine Pineo Photo | Pink flowering dogwood, Bangor Garden Show 2012

The University of Maine Horticulture Club had perfect timing with its blossoms this year, sporting an excellent range with dogwood, magnolia and flowering almond all sporting impressive flowers. At least a couple of students are staffing the display most of the time, which makes it easy to ask questions. This year, I queried the young man at the garden what it took to figure out the bloom time. He admitted it was hit or miss, since most of the students in the club have never forced plants to bloom out of season. He mentioned that last year’s display was pretty green and the only color they had was from the sunflowers.

I told him I remembered, but that it was a nice display nevertheless. He said they tried to have apple trees in bloom for last year, but the flowers set well before the show, leaving them with just the sunflowers.

In addition to the lovely shrubs and trees, the club had a shed with a “green roof” covered with tough little plants including sedums and thyme. The little detail? A miniature house for the birds with a green roof of its own.

On the other side of the auditorium, the little details abounded. One display had what looked like dead tree trunks until you got on the other side and saw the faces carved into each piece of wood. There was a stone “hive” very cleverly wrought nestled into a curve of rock, a tiny nest with turquoise blue eggs at its foot.

Stone "hive," Bangor Garden Show 2012

Janine Pineo Photo | Stone "hive," Bangor Garden Show 2012

A stone sloop bearing down on a stone whale tail painted a picture farther along, and before you knew it, you’d arrived at a glass house surrounded and filled with vegetables, herbs and fruit plants.

The breadth of goodies at “The Green House” by Cozy Acres Greenhouses was an accomplishment, from morning glory vines twining along hoops to the blueberry and fig to the pots and boxes of various vegetables. One could have made a meal of it right there.

The garden show isn’t complete, however, until you have roamed the vendor booths. This year introduced some newcomers, along with favored return acts among the several dozen filling the center of the auditorium floor.

One newcomer was Lisa Colburn, author of the upcoming “The Maine Garden Journal.” Lisa was taking advance orders with a discount and also selling mugs featuring a detail of hydrangeas from a painting she did. She was there to talk plants and will be there all weekend to do just that, including a presentation at 2 p.m. Saturday during the demonstration series.

If you got carried away testing the salsa, you could head on over to Stone Fox Farm Creamery, where they were serving up multiple flavors of rich ice cream. Try the Gingery Ginger for a real kick. A double scoop cone will only cost you $3.25.

Fields of Dreams Soaps was back with the tempting scents of rich olive oil soaps. Consider the orange spice and pearberry for a treat. And pick up “Dog” if you have one. I jokingly asked if it smelled like dog (I am sure he gets that a lot), but it’s a blend that includes peppermint and lavender, which also helps repel fleas.

And don’t forget to get seeds from O’Halloran Farms, although he did say you should be able to grab some at The Natural Living Center in Bangor sometime next week. I got a few shallots, along with New Zealand spinach and more sweet peas. You can never have too many.

Sweet peas, that is. Or seeds. Even garden shows, for that matter.

Bangor’s Garden Show runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Easter Sunday. Admission is $5 with children under 12 free. If you wear your Easter bonnet on Sunday, admission is half-price.

Starting Monday, April 9, The Daily Plant will start a two-week-long series, “Seen at the Show,” featuring 10 of the many plants showcased at the garden show. Check back at GardenMaine.com for the series.

For a slideshow of displays and more plants, visit Garden Maine on Facebook.