What a winter this has been. We thought spring was coming in December, and then it turned cold again in February. And regardless of the temperatures, we have had way too many gray and gloomy days. Gardeners are ready for a taste of spring, and that is just what the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show has to offer, Friday, Saturday and March 1.
Saturday is leap day in this leap year. We can leap into the next season with some gardening inspiration.
The show will be in Little Rock at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds, at 2600 Howard St. south of Roosevelt Road. This is the third year the show has used this venue, and it has blossomed at the fairgrounds. The ease of parking (compared with parking in downtown around the show's former venue) is an added bonus.
"A Garden Odyssey" is the theme for 2020. The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and it is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 1. Tickets are $10 per day or $15 for a three-day pass and will be sold at ticket windows on the east and west sides of Barton Coliseum. Admission for children 12 and younger is free.
If you have not been to the show since its move to the fairgrounds, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Besides the ample free parking, free golf cart shuttles will be on hand to take patrons to and from the coliseum and the parking lot if they want a lift. There will be a package-holding booth where you can leave purchases while you shop or attend a talk. And when you're ready to leave, parcel pickup is a breeze. You can pull your car right up to the building to have purchases loaded for you.
The facility has plenty of space to showcase gardens and garden products. All of the landscaped gardens and vendors will be arrayed in the coliseum. The Federation of Garden Clubs' standard flower show and the How To stage will occupy the Arts and Crafts Building.
The flower and garden show is a one-stop-shop for everything gardening related. The landscaped gardens are the highlight of every show, loaded with a ton of ideas for home landscapes. This year's display garden exhibits will be created by:
• Antique Brick Outdoors/Better Lawns & Gardens
• Central Arkansas Garden Railway Society
• Grand Designs
• Lopez Landscaping
• The Ozark Folk Center
• Roseberry Landscape Services
• Turf Master Inc., with assistance from River Valley Horticulture Products
• P. Allen Smith & Associates, sponsored by First Community Bank.
In addition to creating a garden, Smith will speak at 11 a.m. Friday on the First Community Stage in Barton Coliseum. His topic will be "A Plant Geek's Manifesto: Getting Your Hands in the Soil and Why It's Important!" The audience will sit in the bleachers on the west side of the stadium.
Along with the gardens, more than 100 booths will be set up in the coliseum with educational exhibits and companies selling plants, garden materials, decorations, tools and more.
From 9 a.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday, visitors can bid on items in a silent auction that will raise money for the scholarships the show awards to college students who major in plant sciences.
Another new addition this year in Barton Coliseum on the Southwest Concourse is "Art of the Garden," an entire wing devoted to Arkansas artists showcasing and selling their art.
The Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs once again will conduct its award-winning Advanced Standard Flower Show. Exhibits will range from plant specimens and table settings to elaborate floral displays. While you are in the Arts and Crafts building, take time to listen to one of the many speakers who will rotate through the How To stage. Educational programs are scheduled all three days with a new topic presented every 30 minutes. (See the schedule in the accompanying story.)
Arkansas 4-H will attend all three days with activities for young people in a booth near the eastern entrance of the coliseum. Each day, the first 50 children to enter will be given a free plant. Families can download a scavenger hunt form at the website argardenshow.org to get started on a fun activity to do with children at the show.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will have poultry experts on hand to answer questions from people who have or are thinking about adding chickens, turkeys or other birds around the house. And Extension Family and Consumer Science agents will demonstrate healthful cooking ideas, and offer samples.
Plant Pathologist Sherrie Smith will also be in this area with her microscope, ready to diagnose plant problems. If you have plants that are not thriving, take a sample or a good picture to her for help.
The Arkansas Flower & Garden Show started in 1992 with a goal to educate Arkansans on proper gardening techniques and to highlight the horticulture industry. By promoting gardening and beautification, the exhibitions help make Arkansas a more beautiful place.
Each year, the proceeds of the show provide college scholarships and civic grants. The scholarships go to students majoring in horticulture or related fields. The Greening of Arkansas Grants go to communities across Arkansas for beautification efforts.
Since the Greening of Arkansas program started in 2006, more than $100,000 has been given to communities across the state for beautification projects on public lands. Here is a shortcut link to guidelines and applications: arkansasonline.com/222green.
The weekend is Arkansas gardeners' chance to get inspired, buy some new plants and get some horticulture education. The Arkansas Flower & Garden Show is the largest gardening event in the state. For more information, visit argardenshow.org.
Read Janet Carson's blog at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.
HomeStyle on 02/22/2020