March 3, 2013

Portland Flower Show: These buds for you

This week, the Portland Flower Show will put a spring in your step with loads of fresh blooms, ideas and inspiration.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

You might expect a bidding war over luxury box seats at Fenway Park or a February trip to the Caribbean, but a tree?

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Visitors to last year’s Portland Flower Show study a winning display from Jaiden Landscaping.

Gabe Souza/2012 Press Herald File

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Environments shows Jackson Fischer of Lisbon Falls how to operate the model train on Paquette’s display at the opening of the show in 2012.

Chris Paquette of Robin’s Nest Swimming

Additional Photos Below


WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday (gala opening); 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 10

WHERE: Portland Co. Complex, 58 Fore St. A free shuttle runs along Commercial Street with stops at Angelo's Acre, the Fish Pier parking lot, Dimillo's Restaurant and the Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal. For parking information, go to

HOW MUCH: $13 ($12 for ages 65 and older) in advance; $15 at door. Opening gala costs $30 in advance; $45 at door.

INFO: 775-4403;

HERE'S AN OVERVIEW of the lectures that will be given during the Portland Flower Show. For more description and detail, go to: series


10:30 a.m. -- Special children's program, "Encountering Wildlife: The Do's and Don'ts of Approaching Maine's Wildlife," with David Sparks of Sparks Ark and some live animals

Noon -- "Feasting from the Garden Year Round," with Barbara Damrosch of Four Season Farm. Book signing will follow.

1:30 p.m. -- "Garden Photography: Tips for Using Your Digital Camera" with Gail Anderson, whose photographs have appeared in Horticulture and other national magazines

3 p.m. -- "The Cary Award," a program to promote outstanding plants for New England gardens, with Jeff O'Donal of O'Donal's Nursery

4:30 p.m. -- "Creating Edible Perennial Gardens the Permaculture Way" with Lisa M. Fernandes of the Portland Permaculture group


10:30 a.m. -- Special children's program, "Encountering Wildlife: The Do's and Don'ts of Approaching Maine's Wildlife," with David Sparks of Sparks Ark and some live animals

Noon -- "McLaughlin Garden: Timeless Plants, Timeless History" with Kristin Perry, director of horticulture at McLaughlin Garden and Homestead

1:30 p.m. -- "Back to Eden: The Timeline of Plants and Flowers Highlighted in the Bible" with Rev. Dr. Frank M. "Sonny" Gada, regional director of the Biblical Botanical Gardens Society of the USA

3 p.m. -- "Long Blooming Perennials" with Cheryl Rich, professor and department chair of the horticulture department at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland

4:30 p.m. -- "What Was Learned in the Construction of Phase One of the Arboretum at Fort Williams Park" with Rick Churchill, founder of the horticultural program at SMCC and one of the founders of the Arboretum


10:30 a.m. -- "Iron Will: 6 Years Into the Development of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens" with Rodney Eason, director of horticulture and plant curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay

Noon -- "The Ever Unfolding Journey into the Unique & Creative World That Inspires Ted Carter" with Ted Carter, landscape designer, contractor and author

1:30 p.m. -- "The Rise of the American Garden" with Terry Hire, fine art photographer, interior designer and member of Maine Photo Alliance

3 p.m. -- "The McLaughlin Garden: The Evolution of a Timeless Landscape, 1840-2013" with Lee Dassler, one of the founders of the McLaughlin Foundation and executive director of the Western Foothills Land Trust

4:30 p.m. -- "Beware of the Invading Pests" with Tim Lindsay, manager/arborist representative of Bartlett Tree Experts


10:30 a.m. -- "Pruning as a Plant Wishes We Would" with Mike Hughes, owner of Hughes Inc. Arbor & Land Management in Yarmouth

Noon -- "Mrs. Thrift and the Portable Cook's Herb Garden" with Betsy Williams, teacher, writer and lecturer. A book signing will follow.

1:30 p.m. -- "The Eastern Promenade -- History With a View!" with Diane Davison, founding member and president of Friends of the Eastern Promenade, and chairperson of the city's Parks Commission

3 p.m. -- "Actively Tending Your Woods" with Kevin Doran, natural science educator with the Maine Forest Service



WHEN: Silent auction 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. March 10; live auction at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Portland Co. Complex, 58 Fore St., Portland. The silent auction will be held in Building No. 11; the live auction will be held in Building No. 3.

HOW MUCH: Free admission. Benefits the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Demonstration Garden at Tidewater Farm and the Maine Harvest for Hunger Gardens in Cumberland County.

INFO: (800) 287-1471 (in Maine); 781-6099. Visit to view the list of donations.

That's actually happened at the plant auction that comes at the end of the Portland Flower Show. Last year, the crowd went all "Market Warriors" on a $225 Japanese maple, and a lucky bidder snatched it up for a C-note.

It's that kind of bargain on everything from lilacs and pansies to lawn mowers and fences that attracts gardeners to the afternoon auction like, well, aphids to a bed of roses.

The Portland Flower Show gets under way Wednesday with its annual opening gala and awards show, followed by fours days of winter-weary Mainers drooling over exhibitors' lush garden landscapes covered in the cloak of spring.

Little waterfalls cascade down through a wildly colorful display of tulips. Greenery brightens spirits and gets gardeners thinking about what their plantings will look like this year -- and how they can they set off their creations with beautiful stonework.

Visitors prowl rows of vendors like Carrie Bradshaw looking for her next pair of Manolos.

There will be 16 gardens at the flower show this year, including three new ones, and close to 90 vendors, said Joanna Sprague, the show's producer.

The theme this year is "Timeless Gardens," a concept that exhibitors can take to mean whatever they want it to mean, Sprague said.

"Some of them are doing some garden designing that is a little more traditional and (with) older plants," she said, "but some are taking it to where it would be a simple garden requiring less time."

Aronson Stonework in Litchfield is creating a garden called "Old Cellar Hole," which is the designer's vision of what a garden would look like in an old cellar hole someone stumbled across in the woods.

Tightlines Landscaping in Brunswick, Sprague said, will be creating a "Garden of the Phoenix" with plants, and will reflect ancient Rome and Victorian England.

Mike Silvia, a landscape designer at Tightlines, has been attending the flower show ever since he moved to Maine 15 years ago, and has participated in it as a designer as well.

"For me personally, I like that we have the opportunity to sort of push the design envelope and give people ideas that, maybe they may not use the whole thing, but they can take a little bit away from it and possibly use it in their yard," Silvia said. "And for me, it's the interaction with the public and talking about gardening."

Silvia thinks one thing that makes gardens timeless is that there are certain elements you can see throughout history. In ancient Rome, gardens had fountains and birds. The gardens at Versaille were designed with aviaries and resting areas.

Modern gardeners can use plants that are popular today, but by incorporating these other features, they can "still keep that feeling of antiquity."

Silvia's "Garden of the Phoenix" -- which has a double meaning, because Portland's city seal features a phoenix rising from the ashes -- will have an aviary with red golden pheasants. The strong red, gold and auburn colors found on the birds will be reflected in other elements of the design -- the flowers, for example, and a piece of garden furniture -- tying it all together.

"People are paying good money to come to a show," Silvia said, "and they should see something that they're not going to see at the Home Depot display."

Even if local gardeners probably won't be running out to buy pheasants for their little plot of land, they can still take something away from the design, Silvia said.

(Continued on page 2)

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