Door opens to spring at Outdoor Living & Landscape Show

03/14/2014 5:36 PM

03/15/2014 7:33 AM

Fake grass has come to the Outdoor Living & Landscape Show.

No longer do you need to worry about choosing between fescue, Bermuda, zoysia or buffalo.

Instead, there’s the fresh-cut olive-green grass, the fresh-cut bright-green grass, the long-and-lush olive-green grass, or the long-and-lush bright-green grass. Or you can opt for one that’s knit and stapled down on the edges, for yards with dogs.

You can probably guess when Derek Miller, who used to own Lawns of Glory lawn-care company in Wichita, decided to seek out artificial turf for lawns. If you guessed the second year of the drought, 2012, you were right.

“I got tired of seeing dead grass in all my yards,” Miller said as he debuted his new company, ForeverLawn Wichita, at the outdoor-living show Friday at Century II.

The show continues Saturday and Sunday in Expo Hall, full of – don’t worry! – mainly living plants, along with some of the artificial variety (which do, after all, look more and more real all the time).

The third year for the garden-type show arrived a bit later in March than it usually does – just a few days before the official start of spring – and gardeners were talking about how they’d already been out working in their yards in the recent nice weather.

Pat Deniau of Derby found bareroot plants at Hong’s Nursery & Landscaping booth, and bought a bleeding heart that she planned to plant in her sister’s shady yard Friday afternoon.

The show gives people a chance to get ideas, inspiration, information – and always the unexpected item they hadn’t come expecting to buy.

Kerry Sull and Nina West of Emporia each carted off Infinity Lights – swirly indoor-outdoor fixtures made of vinyl that look sort of like gigantic gift bows. They’re able to be customized according to color and size, in prices of $25, $35 and $45. West said she comes to the show every year knowing one thing: She will buy pottery from Carol Long. This year it was a mug. And along with it was going a large white Infinity Light for her screened-in front porch.

One unexpected sight was Betty Nollan of Tulsa pulling a garden cart behind her, full of her purchases. A close look showed that the cart had come from her yard, not from the show, though that would have been a good advertisement for a cart. I probably would have bought it.

Dave Long was at the show looking for understory trees to go in his new yard in Garden Plain, after he and his wife moved there from Cimarron last fall.

“He’s grown trees that shouldn’t grow in southwest Kansas, so now he’s trying his hand in south-central Kansas,” said his wife, Maribeth.

Nathan Polson of Hong’s was telling Dave about the unusual Japanese maples in Hong’s garden display that could work under the Longs’ sun-filtering oak leaves.

“Dave’s got a hunch for doing this stuff,” Maribeth Long said. “He can visualize it.”

While one Wichita woman was seen leaving the show 20 minutes after it started, saying she’d seen it all and was happily satisfied with it, out-of-towners continue to attend not knowing it’s not the same Wichita Garden Show of yore and expressing some disappointment at the new show’s condensed size and scope.

The old show, which closed in 2011, used to cover all three halls, and this one, sponsored by Entercom Communications, is in Expo Hall only.

The show had its debut in 2012 with 14 greenhouses and nurseries; this year, half as many are represented. You will not see Tree Top Nursery or Johnson’s Garden Center, the two biggest absences.

But there are more companies under the lawnmowers/tractors/ATVs category, the garden art/pottery/crafts category, and the lawn and tree category.

Among the services you might not know you can get is Aqua Clean Mobile Wash – which not only power-washes your exteriors but can remove rust caused by, say, well water on your sidewalk.

Sharon McCallie had coaxed her sister and brother-in-law down from Atchison, telling them to expect to spend the whole day at the show. Now they weren’t so sure it would take that long. The spirited garden lovers were swapping stories and getting ideas nonetheless.

McCallie pointed to tree trunks forming the outline of Jayhawk Landscapes’ garden display, describing how she’d used 25-foot logs, 2 feet in diameter, to make a huge garden bed back home at her farm.

“It feels a little like a KOA Campground, but I love it,” she said. “I saw it here seven years ago,” she said, referring to the old garden show.

And still, she said, “I need ideas.”

About Annie Calovich

Annie writes about home and garden, including her Bit of Earth column on Saturdays. She has been at The Eagle since 1985, working as a copy editor, a nation/world editor and a reporter. She’s a KU graduate who started out at The Coffeyville Journal.

Contact Annie at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com

Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieCalovich

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