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story.lead_photo.caption Vendors will have whimsical as well as practical garden fixtures for sale along with plants and tools when the 2018 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show opens at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds on March 2.

The 27th annual Arkansas Flower and Garden Show brings big changes. Instead of the last weekend in February, this year the show is on the first weekend in March, and for the first time, it won't be in downtown Little Rock.

The gardener's oasis, a breath of spring at the end of winter, is moving to the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.

Gates will open at 9 a.m. March 2, a Friday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 4.

Four buildings will be transformed:

The main gardens and exhibits will be divided among the Hall of Industry and Barton Coliseum, with the Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs' standard flower show taking over the Arts and Crafts Building. Along with beautiful flowers and designs and horticulture competitions, the 30-minute How-To programs will also be in the Arts and Crafts Building with a full lineup of topics all three days.

The Farm and Ranch Building will house the main hour-long speakers March 2 and 3, and be the home of special hands-on children's activities March 4.

Tickets will cost $10 per person as you enter the fairgrounds at 2600 Howard St. (children 12 and under enter for free). Once inside the gates there is plenty of free parking, and you are free to roam from building to building all day.

No more driving around searching for parking.

If you buy large items, or you simply want to store what you buy, the Hall of Industry and the coliseum will have a parcel pickup service where you can drive up to the door to pick up your purchases before you leave for the day.

WHAT'S ON OFFER

The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show is the largest gardening event in Arkansas each year. This is the place to go to look at great garden designs, buy the latest plants and gardening gadgets and get your questions answered.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service always has a large display, this year in the Hall of Industry. Experts will be available to answer your gardening questions, talk about how to be a beekeeper, teach about backyard chickens and rabbits, and talk about pest problems from diseases and insects to animals.

Plant diagnosticians will be on hand to identify diseases and insects, so take them some sample leaves or twigs from your troubled plants.

Learn how to be a Master Gardener. Taste fabulous food prepared by Family and Consumer Science agents.

Arkansas 4-H will be on hand all three days with activities for the young or young at heart.

One of the highlights of the show is the landscaped garden displays. Presenters include Antique Brick Outdoors/Better Lawns and Gardens; Grand Designs; Lopez Landscaping; Ozark Folk Center State Park; River Valley Horticultural Products with Turf Masters Inc. and Russell Wiggs Landscape Inc.; and Roseberry Landscape Services.

Visitors can walk through their designs to look for ideas that could apply to their home landscapes, and ask questions about the plants used and why.

LANDSCAPE OLYMPICS

For the second year, there will be a live Landscape Challenge. Four landscapers will face off in Barton Coliseum beginning at 10 a.m. May 2.

Each landscaper will have four hours to create a front landscape for a house facade.

Competitors include Botanica Gardens, Eminent Terrain, Hocott's Garden Center and Little Rock Land Design.

You can duck in to watch the action live, coming and going to check on their progress. As they work, interviews will be ongoing with the various designers on how they chose their plants, and tips will be offered on how to create your own personal landscape. The final results will stay up for the entire show.

Friday and Saturday in the Farm and Ranch Building some big-name speakers will teach you about everything including blackberries, drought-tolerant plants, vegetables, annuals, perennials and landscape problem solving. A Friday afternoon session on how not to be a "garden snob" is sure to entertain.

BENEFITING BEAUTY

The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show was begun in 1992 to promote horticulture and sound gardening practices, and help to beautify the state of Arkansas. In addition to all the informative opportunities the weekend brings, the effort to promote education doesn't stop when the doors close and the vendors break down their displays.

Every year, proceeds from the show provide college scholarships to students attending a state institution of higher learning and majoring in horticulture or related fields. The show has awarded more than $60,000 in the past 10 years.

Greening of Arkansas grants are another way the show benefits the state. More than $95,000 has been awarded to communities across the state for beautification projects since 2006. Grant applications are opened in late summer, with grants up to $2,500 awarded the following spring to nonprofit and civic groups for beautification projects on public land.

More details are at argardenshow.org.

Janet B. Carson is a horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Photo by University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture/MARY HIGHTOWER
Visitors tiptoe through a garden design exhibit during the 2017 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. Such displays will be in the Hall of Industry and Barton Coliseum for the 2018 show.
Photo by University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture/RYAN McGEENEY
Botanica Gardens squared off against Horticare in a head-to-head landscaping competition during the 2017 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. For 2018, Botanica will take on Hocott’s Garden Center, Eminent Terrain and Little Rock Land Design in Barton Coliseum, with just four hours to create landscapes for four house facades.
Photo by Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON
Gazing balls and mosaic birdbaths beckon shoppers at the 2017 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show.
Photo by University of Arkansas System Divisionof Agriculture/MARY HIGHTOWER
Experts will cover a wide range of topics at the 2018 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, some of interest to children, like this bunny, which attended the 2017 show.

HomeStyle on 02/17/2018

Print Headline: Big changes: Arkansas Flower and Garden Show moves to State Fairgrounds — and into March

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