By Anne M. Hamilton , Hartford Courant
Published: February 19, 2009
The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, which opens today at the Connecticut Convention Center, has a new way to promote itself this year: the largest flower show in New England.
Organizers of the 28th annual show said they’re hoping attendance will increase from about 35,000 to perhaps 40,000 this year, at least partly because of the cancellation of the 137-year-old New England Spring Flower Show in Boston, usually the region’s biggest.
That show, which had attracted 120,000 visitors and grossed close to $2 million, was scrapped by its sponsor, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which is suffering severe financial problems.
At the Connecticut Convention Center on Wednesday, a delicate aroma of fresh mulch surrounded dozens of landscapers as they finished setting up their exhibits. Tulips were out, the grass was green and a weeping cherry tree was in bloom. The only thing missing in the chilly hall was the sun. The show continues through Sunday.
Kristie Gonsalves, president of North East Expos, which organized the show, said the event usually takes in about $500,000, but she’s hoping for more visitors this year.
“I’m hoping we do close to 40,000,” she said.
This is the third year the show has been held at the convention center, which has 45,000 square feet devoted to organic gardens, aquatic gardens, built-in outdoor grills, gazebos and other garden equipment.
Landscapers and other vendors were busy manicuring about a ton or so of wood chips and mulch supplied by Gonsalves. They are prepared to sell everything in their gardens, from small planters made of hypertufa to a 1960 Pontiac. Rob Townsend, owner of Portland-based Aquascapes of Connecticut, was hoping that proceeds from the car would allow him to buy an engagement ring for his fiancée.
Garden clubs from around the state, in keeping with this year’s theme, “America the Beautiful,” submitted entries ranging from large red, white and blue bouquets to a display featuring a spiky silver allium draped around what appeared to be a blue vacuum cleaner hose. In addition to the displays, there are more than 80 hours of gardening seminars on topics from African violet cultivation to organic lawn care.
Admission is $14 for adults and $2 for children aged 7 to 14. Senior citizens can get in for $12 on Thursday and Friday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, go to www.ctflowershow.com.