A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Friday, February 16, 2007

NJ Flower & Garden Show 2007 - Part 1

This is the third year that I've attended the NJ Flower & Garden Show. It gets better every year. The display gardens were incredible this year. The theme was "Once Upon a Garden" inspired by children's books. The results were breathtaking.

Last year, the students of Cook College under the direction of their instructor who is the Director of Rutgers Gardens erected a garden that contained bamboo that reached the ceiling of the convention center. I couldn't imagine how they were going to top that.

Well, they did. Their theme was "Peter Rabbit" and they constructed Mr. McGregor's vegetable garden in its entirety including his garden shed:

The attention to detail was fantastic. Can you see his little shoes in the background? And behind the sign is his little jacket, caught on the fence:

By the way, this is what was outside of the picket fence surrounding the veggie garden. Did I mention that the attention to detail was outstanding?

The garden next to it was beautiful but as a student of history, I found it puzzling. It's theme was "The Garden of Eden". The original garden of Eden was located between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq. I'm not sure why, other than the palms, they thought that tropical plants and a stream were appropriate:

I didn't take a picture of "Eve" because this is a family-friendly blog. Really. They dressed up a young woman in a flesh-colored bodysuit with faux fig-leaves covering strategic parts and forced, I mean, paid her to hand out apples.

Any guesses as to why I found this garden so attractive?

The theme was "Fantasia" with a dancing fountain instead of dancing hippos.

It was definitely fantastic, but I am partial to water in the landscape.

Across the aisle was another spectacularly detailed garden: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"

Some designs are incredibly creative in some parts but fall flat in others. Like "A Hobbit's Hole" from "The Lord of the Rings". I liked the hobbit's hole:

Don't you love the smoke coming out of the pipe? But the path leading to the door . . .

Tulips and daffodils on one side, ferns on the other, everything in rows. Hey, if I want to see stuff planted in rows, I can just step into my own backyard!

Here's another one with a great idea but poor execution:

The theme is "The Wizard of Oz". Knowing that and seeing the color of the path, do we really need a sign telling us that we are looking at The Yellow Brick Road?

The Scarecrow definitely needs some work.

Every year there is a "garden" that leaves me scratching my head wondering how it fits into a "flower and garden" show. Last year it was the "Cape Cod Garden" with sand, a surfboard and a garden shed. This year it is "The Sandcastle Contest":

Sand, a sand castle and a garden shed. Your guess is as good as mine!

Moving right along, "The World of Water". Wasn't that a really bad movie and not a children's book? I liked it anyways.

Waterfalls and a "thermal" spring. I'm sold.

"Titania's Bower" made me desperate for a better camera. The subtle lights against the dark "woods" just don't show up well.

You'll have to take my word for it that it was incredibly beautiful.

This is what creativity and great execution looks like:

"Shrek's Bog and Rain Garden" created by the NJ Conservation Partnership. Their agenda is the creation of bog and rain gardens planted with natives. Way to go! Grab the kids' attention, forcing the parents to stop and ask questions so that they can explain the garden to their children. Applause, applause.

I never read "The Secret Garden" so I probably missed most of the symbolism in this garden. I still enjoyed it though.

And finally, just like last year, the last garden I visited made me want to grab the creators and demand to know "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" The theme is "the Road Not Taken" from the famous Frost poem. It is supposed to be a representation of a path through a forest leading to a clearing.

Have you ever ever ever seen a paved woodland path? With walls? And steps? And no weeds?
And what forest clearing ever looked like this?

Okay, time to take a deep breath and relax. Tomorrow we'll visit the Garden Club exhibits. I'll show you what the judges liked and what I liked.

More photos can be seen on Flickr.


At 8:16 PM, Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

LOL! I'm with you on the "Road Not Taken" garden. Thank you for sharing all of those pictures with us, though--I really enjoyed the "visit" to the NJ Flower show!

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Gotta Garden said...

So, I had to come see these, too!

Btw, The Secret Garden is a good book!

It's always interesting to see how things are interpreted...you are an excellent reporter!

Many thanks!

At 11:38 PM, Blogger OldRoses said...

I'm so bad! I am well aware of the fact that most of the garden installations are by companies pimping their wares and their skills but I can't resist the temptation to rip apart their efforts. They ARE getting better each year. The first time I went to the show they were just awful, more pavement than plants.

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were four rivers leading into the garden of eden and most scholars say there is no way to pinpoint exactly where the garden was located so it is up to the interpretation of each individual to decide what the garden looked like.


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