Yes, it’s the time of the year when we stream into cavernous convention centers and pay good money to be jostled by several thousand of our fellow gardening-starved brethren so we can strain to see a few phony, badly lit gardens and spend more money on stuff we probably don’t need. Fun!
Clearly I’m no fan of all that crowded commerce at the heart of garden shows, at least of the ones I’ve attended. (In a classic CYA move I’m reserving judgment on all the others.) But here’s what I DO love about garden shows – some amazing speakers. Like?
The Capital Home and Garden Show in Northern Virginia, February 21-24, features lots of "celebrity guests" talking about roofing and window treatment and exactly one speaking about gardening – our friend Don Engebretson, the Renegade Gardener. So I’ll drive an hour, pay my money and put up with bathtub liner salesmen because I want to hear whatever he has to say. Story and photos coming soon to this blog.
The Maymont Flower and Garden Show in Richmond, VA , February 21-24, has all KINDS of good gardening
- Paul Tukey
- Joe Lamp’l (of PBS’s GardenSmart)
- Mark Viette
- Robin Haglund on "Growing Gardening Skills: Coaches Work!" So, the gardening coach craze ain’t over yet and may even be here to stay.
- And lots more. Here’s the full schedule of speakers.
The Northwest Flower and Garden Show, February 20-24, features Sally Field talking about "Gardening for Good Health", which I would dearly love to hear. (Anybody going who can give us a report?) I admit she’s not exactly a gardening authority but she’s older than I am, so I’d listen to her talk on this subject any old day. Oh, and they have a whole bunch of actual gardening experts speaking, too, like Dan Hinkley. Check out the schedule.
PROMOTE THOSE EXPERTS!
Just a little browsing of garden show websites tells me these shows don’t promote their speakers enough, especially if they want to attract return visitors because I don’t THINK I’m the only one who’s seen enough fake convention-hall gardens to last a lifetime. But I do seek out great speakers and while the shows have ’em, you’d only know that by digging deep into their websites. (Hinkley’s buried waaay below all the Sally Field hype.) And for that matter, why use the inapt and unexciting term "seminar" at all?
Best example of a bad practice? The Philadelphia Flower Show – the grand dame of them all and still the largest in the East – whose speakers are nowhere to be found on their site. We know they have ’em – lots of ’em – and that they’re famously not paid a dime for their efforts because it’s such a privilege to speak at the Philly Show. Looks to me like crappy treatment of gardening experts on all counts. (Though I’m sure someone will speak up to defend them, so let’s hear it.)
How about shows in your neck of the woods – any speakers you’re excited about hearing? Or do you adore the show gardens and all those vendors and think I’m nuts because I don’t?