Maine gardening buffs and flower fans could have two major flower shows to choose from in coming years.

After years of being participants at the annual Portland Flower Show, members of the Maine Landscape & Nursery Association voted Wednesday to create their own flower show, said Don Sproul, the group’s executive director. The vote was taken during the association’s annual meeting in Augusta.

The Maine Flower Show will be owned and produced by the association and will be held in Portland in 2017, in late March or April. Sproul said the group has a “handshake” agreement with a Portland venue, but did not want to name the venue until the final agreement is signed.

Sproul said association members wanted to create their own show to “better dictate how we represent our industry to the public.” He said members had worried that the Portland Flower Show had been attracting fewer people in recent years and that some of the vendors involved had little to do with “yard and garden work.”

News of the new Maine Flower Show comes during a year when southern Maine is without a major flower show for the first time in years. The Portland Flower Show, a calendar highlight for thousands of backyard gardeners, was canceled for 2016 because of difficulty finding a location. It’s been run by Portland Yacht Services for 18 years and is usually held in March in a complex of historic buildings on Fore Street.

Sproul said Maine Landscape & Nursery Association members are “very appreciative” of the work Joanna Sprague of Portland Yacht Services and her staff put into running the Portland Flower Show and drawing attention to it.


“The Portland Flower Show has certainly benefited our whole industry over the years,” said Sproul. “We just think owning our own show will be better for us.”

Sprague said Wednesday she did not think the new show would affect future plans for the Portland Flower Show, which is scheduled to resume in 2017. The Portland Flower Show’s focus is usually a dozen or more exhibit gardens, built for the show, by landscape companies or other garden-related businesses. Sprague said that in recent years only about half the garden exhibitors had been Maine Landscape & Nursery Association members, and she feels the Portland Flower Show show can attract enough exhibitors and vendors even if association members don’t participate.

Sproul said the association will not prohibit its members from participating in the Portland Flower Show, but that several of the larger member businesses have already pledged to exhibit only at the Maine Flower Show.

The Maine Landscape & Nursery Association is a nonprofit trade association with about 128 member businesses, including landscapers, nurseries, contractors, garden centers, turf growers, researchers and educators.

The Maine Flower Show will have about 20 exhibit gardens and about 120 vendors in about 40,000 square feet of space, Sproul said. He said there will be a parking area and that a fee of around $5 for parking would probably be charged.

The Portland Flower Show is usually held in a 70,000 square-foot space, Sprague said, with about 100 vendors and some 12 to 14 exhibit gardens. Tickets last year were $12 to $15 and attendance over the years ranged from about 10,000 to 12,000 people for the four-day show. Parking has been a challenge, with many people having to park some distance away and walk or take buses. Last year, the owners of the Portland Co. complex charged a $20 parking fee during the flower show.


The main reason the Portland Flower Show was canceled this year is because a suitable and affordable site couldn’t be found in time, Sprague said. Portland Yacht Services sold the Portland Co. complex at 58 Fore St. in 2013 to an owner planning to build a mix of businesses and residences. At the time, Portland Yacht Services planned to rent back space for the flower show or build new buildings for the show on land it owns on West Commercial Street, Sprague said.

Portland Yacht Services did rent space for the flower show in the Portland Co. complex last March, under its sales agreement with the new owners. But renting the space this year, for setup time and the four days of the show, proved too costly, Sprague said.

Plans to build on the West Commercial Street site were slowed when the state took much of the land by eminent domain in 2014 for expansion of the International Marine Terminal.

The company has purchased more land nearby, and now must get the proper approvals to build, Sprague said. She said that “hopefully” the buildings can be built in time for a 2017 Portland Flower Show, but that nothing is certain.

The decision to cancel the Portland Flower Show was announced in October, and posted on the show’s Facebook page, but was not widely publicized until recently. Sproul said Maine Landscape & Nursery Association members began planning their own show last year, before the Portland Flower Show was canceled.


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