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Spring Blooms at the Boston Flower and Garden Show

by Marissa Wu

Photography courtesy of the Boston Flower Show

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also,” said writer Harriet Ann Jacobs.

Jacobs seemed to know the remedy to long, listless winters. Spring. And, this year, gardeners, horticulturalists and enthusiasts were in agreement as they flooded the Seaport World Trade Center to attend the annual Boston Flower and Garden Show. Brimming with all types of flowers and trees, the show offered a fresh burst of vibrancy and cheer after the city had weathered several nor’easters.

“I guess it seems obvious this week, the boost in people’s morale that the show gives them,” said Carolyn Weston, Show Director. “I mean, we’ve had three nor’easters in a row and people just need to see color. The sounds of the gardens, the smells are intoxicating, but it’s really just seeing color after a grey winter that makes people happy.”

With everything from birch trees to cherry blossoms and tulips, there was no shortage of color. Exhibitors competed for various awards, setting up elaborate gardens. Winners or not, the feat of creating their displays is impressive, as they have just three days to build their sets from the ground up.

Cheryl Lombardo is one of the third-generation horticulturists from Heimlich Nurseries, based in Woburn. The family-run nursery has been exhibiting at the flower show since the 1940s, when her grandfather, Alexander Heimlich, started the business. It has now evolved into two companies, spanning cousins, siblings, parents and uncles. Lombardo got involved in the business early, enjoying being outdoors.

“I grew up pulling my dad’s pant leg to get me to go to work with him,” she said.

This year, Heimlich Nurseries’ garden featured a water wheel used by Alexander and a small pond surrounded by trees and blooming tulips- all of which was erected in the three-day window.

“When you come in [before the show begins], literally this is just a cement floor,” Lombardo said of the exhibition hall. “We make the wall; we have to bring in all the water. A lot of people don’t know that there’s 35 yards of bark mulch here. Ship it [the plants] it all in a heated truck so nothing freezes.”

But, Lombardo and other exhibitors have been preparing long before the official set-up begins. Planning begins right after the previous show, so that plants have time to be “forced” and in bloom by the following event. Forcing, according to Lombardo, is a process by which plants are tricked into blooming in a greenhouse, even if they may not be naturally in season.

“You have to...figure out how many weeks it’s [the plant] going to take to bloom...if it blooms too much you have to cool it down,” Lombardo explained. “It’s actually quite a lot of work.”

To adapt to this year’s theme of “Savor Spring,” Heimlich Nurseries went for plenty of color, Lombardo noting that it was an effective combatant to the dreariness of winter.

“That’s what everyone love about spring,” she said. “It’s a great way- especially this year, where there’s so much snow- to get people out...thinking about what they’re going to do for their upcoming garden.”

Themes are carefully chosen each year by Show Director Weston, who takes into account trends before creating a theme to reflect what’s popular. This year, it’s edible gardening.

“This year it was obvious to us that edible gardening...was high on people’s minds,” Weston said. “So, we chose the theme Savor Spring to reflect people’s excitement over being able to taste those first...fruits of the gardens this year.”

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