As extension agent Bob Neier points out, it’s a good thing the Outdoor Living and Landscape Show wasn’t the first weekend of March as it usually is.
The subzero-wind-chill, sleet-snow storm last weekend was not conducive to getting out of the house, even for a preview of spring. We had to content ourselves with the thought that better days – daylight saving time and warmer weather – were on the way.
The long-range forecast shows much kinder conditions for next weekend, when the Outdoor Living and Landscape Show will take place in Expo Hall of Century II. A previously scheduled event at Century II caused the delay in the show this year, said Brad Horning of Entercom Communications, which sponsors the show.
A few vendors couldn’t make the later date, but most are returning. There will be about the same number of exhibits this year as last: around 110, Horning said.
Neier also pointed out that the later date makes it more likely that people can take certain plants home from the show and plant them. Some candidates: pansies, onions, cole crops, ornamental kale and cabbage.
“The fun part is going and finding the plants that I wasn’t even expecting to find. Last year there were lots of succulents, and I really enjoy growing those,” Neier said.
This is the third year for the show, a combination of a garden show and outdoor-living show. About 17,000 people – including exhibitors – attended last year, up 7 percent from the show’s premiere year.
New this year will be a pet pavilion featuring adoptable dogs from the Kansas Humane Society along with Invisible Fence and information about how to help your landscape and pets co-exist; drawings for a $4,000 backyard makeover and a Shocker fan package; and giveaways to the first 300 people in the door each day of the show: gardening gloves on Friday, a metal pot with a sunflower-seed disc on March 15, and a 16-foot purple tape measure on March 16.
Also, some of the concessions will be integrated into the other booths of the show, and ticket prices for seniors have been lowered by a dollar, to $7. Other prices remain the same: $9 for adults, $4 children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and under.
The Wichita Area Garden Council, featuring representatives of 16 area garden clubs and Botanica, will have a garden at the entrance to the show this year. It will be a nod to the new Chinese garden planned for later this year at Botanica, and will include a water feature. Information about the clubs also will be available there, and some clubs will do mini demonstrations, according to Ron Williams, who’s heading up the project.
Businesses that will be putting up display gardens at the show are Hong’s Landscape & Nursery, Johnson’s Legacy Landscapes, Scenic Landscapes Water Garden Nursery, Suburban Landscape Management, Treemendous and Treescapes.
Garden seminars will be offered hourly during the show, and judging by the topics, waving water continues to be a big theme. The Extension Master Gardeners’ booth will display the seven principles of xeriscaping.
Other themes of the garden seminars include the basics of vegetable gardening, growing herbs, the most interesting of the new plants for 2014, and wildlife presentations by the Great Plains Nature Center.
Apart from gardening, people are getting more into outdoor building, especially of composite decks, said Wes Pechin of Suburban Landscape Management.
“For a long time I was a holdout, because composites didn’t look real,” Pechin said. “Now they do. They’re very beautiful.”
They’re also a lot easier to maintain than wood. A special Consumer Reports publication, Your New Home, says that “this blend of plastic and recycled wood fiber gives you the look of wood without having to worry about staining it on a regular basis. … However, some composites offer far less resistance to slips, stains, and mildew than others. And most are heavier and more expensive than the usual pressure-treated pine.”
So do your shopping.
Other popular outdoor structures include paver patios, walls you can sit on, retaining walls, Pechin said. And “almost all patios include a fire pit.”
Other things his company will have on display at the show: water features, the latest in concrete pavers, LED lighting, an outdoor sound system that looks like an uplight and contains the sound so it may not be as apt to bother the neighbors, a wall containing natural stone as well as segmental retaining wall block – a concrete building material that can be tumbled for an “elegant” look with less maintenance, Pechin said.
Treescapes will feature kids’ play forts, a shade structure that is like a giant kite that attaches to two spots on the house and then two poles, a small version of a working concrete gunite swimming pool, the new Pentair racer pool cleaner with headlights, tabletop fountains, in-ground-fountain kits, outdoor drapes, a new electric pizza oven, and a “really cool new bacon rack. You can grill bacon with no flare-up,” said David Martine of Treescapes.
Now that’s outdoor livin’.