PORTLAND – The theme of this year’s Portland Flower Show is “Celebration,” but the people who attended the opening night and awards ceremony Wednesday were looking for something more practical: ideas they can use in their gardens at home.

The exhibition gardens and the people who created them were ready to give those people what they wanted.

“I’m here to get some ideas, especially for hardscape features, so this has been good,” said Donna Card of Monmouth. “The gardens are done very well.”

The show, at The Portland Company complex, at 58 Fore St., continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Nicole Pastre, a landscape designer with Jaiden Landscaping of Durham — which won Best in Show — was ready and able to help people like Card.

“What we created is a backyard garden, set up for an Easter celebration,” Pastre said. “It has patio living spaces and a lot of separate areas and gardens. It is sort of a dream backyard.”

Pastre said she and her co-workers would love it if someone came up and wanted the entire garden, including the pond, but they know that people likely will want a part of the display garden or, even more likely, say, “What can you do with this budget?”

“We are happy to do that,” she said.

Jon Snell, Jaiden’s owner, said he was thrilled to win Best in Show for the first time, after four or five times at the show. He said he also was exhausted from all the work that went into the exhibit.

Matt Shaw of Picture Perfect Landscapes in Bowdoinham — exhibiting for the first time and winning the First Timers Award and an award for best use of color — said he created his garden with potential customers in mind.

“I think they are ready to get inspired,” he said. “People are looking for ideas.”

Maizie Argondizza, a professional gardener and landscaper from New Jersey who is attending the show with her grandmother in Portland — also named Maizie Argondizza — was impressed.

“I’m missing the Philadelphia Flower Show to be here and to visit family,” she said.

The Philadelphia show is one of the largest and best in the country. Portland’s show “is a lot less crowded and easier to get around, and there are a lot more plants that are native to the area,” she said.

The elder Angondizza said she has been attending the Portland Flower Show off and on for many years. “I can’t comprehend all of the work that goes into these gardens,” she said.

Vicki Marion of Windham saw several gardens she liked, but the experience was more about emotions and senses.

“It is just great to come in here and smell the mulch,” she said.

She said the gardens were well done and provided many ideas, but unlike in other years, there were no gardens that made people stand back in awe.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer who can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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