Vermont Flower Show opens at Champlain Valley Expo, Feb. 27

F-4-HG-Vermont-Flower-Show-SCBy Charlotte Albers

The 2015 Vermont Flower Show comes to the Champlain Exposition Center Feb. 27, 28, and March 1. Produced by Green Works – the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association – the bi-annual event will once again host exhibitors and vendors in the gardening industry.

There will also be educational displays by organizations like the UVM Master Gardeners, Friends of the UVM Horticulture Farm, Federated Garden Clubs of Vermont, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and SunCommon.

This year’s theme is Spring Reflections, and organizers have been working for over a year to plan and design the Grand Garden Display which has many special water features including a mountain stream that meanders through a woodland glade, a bog, and a jumping river.

Students from the Center for Technology in Essex have recreated a mill from the original one located at the Shelburne Museum.

Visitors will see blooms everywhere in the display gardens – flowering crabapple and serviceberry trees, fragrant shrubs like lilac, viburnum, and copious amounts of spring bulbs – and several artists will be painting at various locations throughout the gardens.

Ashley Robinson, a landscape designer in Charlotte, worked with Michelle Blow at Greenhaven Gardens and Nursery to design The New Front Yard, a display that showcases ecological design principles.

“The display is an educational piece,” Robinson says. “The house has a rainbarrel for collecting runoff that shows the importance of water conservation, and instead of a front lawn we’ve created a meadow that attracts beneficial insects. There’s also a raingarden or swale that will show people how to landscape around wet areas using native plants.”

A beautiful sculpture by a local artist will be on view outside the art studio connected to the house, which Robinson says will emphasise the theme of supporting wildlife.

“We intentionally eliminated the front lawn,” she adds. “Instead of a barren landscape we’re showing how homeowners can integrate native groundcovers and a shade tree to create a nice respite from hot summer sun while supporting birds and bees.”

Groundcovers she likes include creeping phlox and foamflower (Tiarella spp.) which are both good native selections for a sites with shade to moderate sun. Other plants you might see in the display are lamium (spotted dead nettle), ajuga, and heartleaf brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla). Many of these flower early in the season and support all species of bees, including honeybees.

Inspiration for the design of The New Front Yard came from the book “Bringing Nature Home” by Doug Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware. Tallamy was a keynote speaker at the Green Works annual meeting two years ago and his newest book, “The Living Landscape,” was just published.

“Beautiful No Mow Yards” is another book Robinson recommends for anyone considering lawn alternatives that support ecological landscape design principles.

Maybe this is the year to reduce your lawn area and create no-mow meadows or get a rain barrel attached to your downspout and gutter.

Keynote speaker Jane Knight from the Eden Project in England will speak both on Saturday and Sunday, and seminars and workshops take place throughout the event along with cooking demonstrations, specialty foods and spirts, and a family activity room. There will be a lot to do, see, and learn.

Tickets are available at Gardener’s Supply, Price Chopper, and online at Organizers encourage you to buy tickets in advance to avoid lines at the main entrance.