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Finding New Paths at the Vermont Flower Show

Written by Julianne Puckett on . Posted in Outdoor Rec and Nature

Photos by Julianne Puckett.

Right now, my gardening is limited to vegetables. My motto? If I can’t eat it, I don’t plant it.

Therefore, you might not think I would have been the ideal person to attend the 2013 Vermont Flower Show at the Champlain Valley Exposition Center in Essex.

Having never been to a flower show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had visions of formal floral arrangements, or individual plants with prize-winning ribbons attached or excited visitors reeling off all the plant names in Latin. And, yes, while there was a bit of that (hats off, by the way, not only to the garden clubs that won but also the chatty woman behind me in line whose Latin was impeccable), this is Vermont, so there was also a large emphasis on the natural beauty of the Green Mountain State. In fact, there was a whole indoor forest.

The theme of this year’s flower show was Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken,” from the perspective of finding beauty in nature in unexpected places, depending on the path chosen. In the huge open exposition space, the show organizers, sponsors and volunteers created a walk through the woods, using live trees, plants and flowers, with eight vignettes, illustrating the myriad places in Vermont where natural beauty may be observed. Strolling leisurely though the forest, I came upon traditional scenes such as a stone wall on a rocky slope and an orchard in bloom, as well as other, more amusing landscapes — green graffiti (literally) and some scarily realistic stuffed chickens — and, an homage to the poet himself, a replica of Frost’s own writing cabin on his farm in Ripton.

I must say, it was a pleasure to walk down a springtime road in Vermont without wading through mud.

One particular advantage of this forest walk for me were the identification markers beside all the plantings. The gardens surrounding my home in Jericho were planted by a former owner who, not surprisingly, did not leave plant markers all around the yard; I’m often at a loss for how to care for something I can’t even identify. As I walked the path at the show, I recognized many varieties of plants from my own yard and was able jot down their names.

The show also included a plethora of vendors, hawking everything today’s gardener could possibly need, from sprinklers, seeds and tools to bird houses and garden art, as well as some things that might fall more into the want rather than need category: jewelry, clothing and books. Non-shoppers could also take advantage of how-to workshops and seminars, a family room with hands-on activities, a model railroad and cooking demonstrations. No wonder there was a three-day pass available for purchase!

As a gardener, I have taken the vegetable road. Perhaps it is time for me to follow the advice of Robert Frost and the flower show visionaries and take another, less edible road on my gardening journey.

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