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Gardens — and movies — are the stuff of dreams

What strikes me most about the Wichita Garden Show continuing this weekend at Century II are the contrasts.

There's the distance between a towering dinosaur (in Tree Top Nursery's "Jurassic Park" great garden) and a humble packet of seed for sale in a rack below. The seed becoming a plant is one of the great miracles we'll be able to witness in our own gardens sometime soon. The big dinosaur is something we can witness just this weekend, making me relive so many memories:

My visit to an exhibit of dinosaurs when I was a child. A green dinosaur soap my parents bought me from a Sinclair gas station. The ride based on the movie "Jurassic Park" that I rode at Universal Studios and that scared me to death.

That's the best thing about gardens. They evoke memories, feelings, experiences — sometimes things we can't even name, like that sensation that sweeps over me with the wind when I'm gardening ahead of a storm.

I have so many reasons to love this "Jurassic Park" garden. And all of the others at the garden show. They contrast so nicely that you can walk through them experiencing a flexing of sensations that get you ready for spring.

After being scared in a good way (how scared can you be when your short breaths are filled with the fragrance of hyacinths?) at Jurassic Park, the blood pressure evens out at Johnson's "The Secret Garden" and Hong's "Mr. Miyagi's Courtyard" from "The Karate Kid." You have to slow down to take in the charming and meticulous details.

The energy level kicks back up at the "Avatar" garden — you walk between foggy waterfalls that are tumbling over zebra-striped bromeliads, under the lighted Tree of Souls — and at the "Up" garden, which has a surprisingly tropical feel. There's a towering waterfall — and a little nook cut out of rock for sitting at the back of it all.

I have my habits at the garden show: Pick up the Arnold's Greenhouse catalog, pore over the gorgeous floral arrangements and houseplants (it's in a new area this year — in a corner across from the Great Plains Nature Center gift shop), try to make eye contact and smile at all the vendors (or divert my eyes quickly if they're catching a fast lunch), keep my eye out for treasures, grab the schedules of events and info from all of the garden clubs, and look at the pretty vegetables growing in the master gardeners' garden and wonder how I can possibly do that at home.

Reminder to self: Nature is a little messier than the confines of Century II. And right now it's not nearly as colorful. Has anybody noticed all the pitifully brown boxwoods out there after the frigid winter?

The best part of the show is seeing old friends and meeting new, whether they be plants or people. I'll be at the show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at The Eagle's booth in Exhibition Hall, across from the Oakschmied honey booth and also near the bed bug exhibit (it's good to know your enemy). Fill out a garden survey and you'll be entered to win a prize. (I'll be using the survey answers as part of a future story.) You can also go to Kansas.com to enter a garden photo in a chance to win a drawing, or just enjoy the photos others have submitted under "Photo Galleries."

You can also see a video of the "Avatar" section of the great gardens (along with a corner of "Up") going up in a 168-hour time lapse under "Videos" at Kansas.com.

Miracles are everywhere.

If you go

Wichita Garden Show

Where: Century II

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

How much: $11.50 for ages 16 and older, $6 for children ages 10 through 15, $2.50 for ages 5 through 9, and free for 4 and under, $10.50 for seniors; multi-day pass, $19.50

For more information, see the garden show’s insert in The Eagle on Sunday or the website www.wichitagardenshow.com.

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