Annie Calovich

March 8, 2012

Info, feedback gleaned from the Outdoor Living & Landscape Show

Wichita’s annual “garden show” changed this year, but some opinions about it remained the same.

Wichita’s annual “garden show” changed this year, but some opinions about it remained the same.

Some people don’t want to pay to go to a show where businesses are trying to sell them something.

Some people are pleased to see gardening of any kind on display when they’ve had just about enough of winter brown.

Some people prefer to be carried away by more-grandiose garden displays.

Some people want to see only the type of gardens that they can translate into their own yard.

And the new Outdoor Living & Landscape Show that rolled out last weekend produced its own reactions.

“I have to admit I did not have a euphoric feeling of spring as I strolled around,” master gardener Kate Bainbridge e-mailed me.

But “people I spoke with when I was manning the Extension Center’s booth seemed satisfied and certainly had been shopping. No lack of shopping bags!”

It struck me that maybe this was more of a shopping show than a looking show. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just different.

“It was nice, but there was no WOW,” Sherryl Fitzpatrick chimed in.

It also struck me that, while the show was missing the old Wichita Garden Show’s “great gardens,” some businesses seemed to step up their displays, perhaps because there was more of an even playing field, a fresh start.

And it made me think that maybe more of them could do exclamation points throughout the show. Exclamation points aren’t big, but they do have to pack a punch. And the heady perfume of spring.

“I missed the incredible smell of moist earth and hyacinths that would hit you as you first walked in the door,” one reader commented about the show.

“I still enjoyed going to the different garden center booths and picking out my rose-scented geraniums and specialty seed packets. The gardens that were there were lovely, in a compact sort of way. I especially loved the back of the fence for Scenic Landscape’s garden — the rough cedar braces, ivy and pachysandra reminded me of something out of ‘The Secret Garden.’ ”

The show did inform about a number of outdoorsy businesses and the products and services they provide that you might not find just driving down any old Wichita street.

Here are a few of the things I learned from the show:

•  I overheard Debbie Jones of Rose Hill find out that she’ll once again have a Plant Kingdom near her where she can shop. The greenhouse is going to open a new year-round showroom at 3640 S. Topeka. Debbie used to shop at Plant Kingdom on South Woodlawn until it closed several years ago, switching to several seasonal satellite locations. Now Plant Kingdom will have the greenhouse outlets at 3105 N. Hillside and 6701 E. Harry, opening March 31, along with the new showroom, which will open for a preview March 17.
•  The 2012 version of the Tree Top Nursery T-shirt bears the words: Live for Today, Plant for Tomorrow.
•  Kaw Valley Greenhouses will be at these locations in the Wichita area this year: Brittany Center at 21st and Woodlawn, 9609 E. Kellogg (at Webb Road), and 600 S. Tyler in Wichita; 303 W. 7th in Augusta; 524 to 640 N. Andover Road in Andover; 1001 N. K-15 in Derby; and 2627 W. Central in El Dorado. They will be open April through June. Website:
•  The master gardeners’ garden tour will be May 18 to May 20, featuring seven gardens for $8 (or $10 after May 5). Music and artists will be part of the tour.
•  I picked up my Arnold’s Greenhouse catalog and learned more about “a taste of the tallgrass prairie.” This year, Arnold’s, which is in LeRoy, is selling a prairie plant collection of 108 plants representing six types of native grasses and 12 types of native wildflowers for $150. I also was taken with some of their classes — edibles for your deck or patio, on May 5, for example, and succulent bowl garden on May 12.
•  The Kansas Grown Farmers Market at 21st and Ridge Road will open April 7. Its market at GreenAcres at 21st and Rock Road will open April 24, and its Derby market at 800 N. Baltimore will open May 26.

As the reader who missed the fragrance of the old show said of the new show: “Although it was obviously not as grand and wonderful as it has been in the past, at least it was something, and now I’m more than ready to start planting!”

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