The University Record, March 15, 1993

Flower Show offers welcome preview of summer flora—and fauna

By Kate Kellogg
News and Information Services

Those yearning for an end to winter will find a warm world of rhododendrons, roses and live butterflies March 25–28 at the 1993 Ann Arbor Flower and Garden Show at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds.

“This is the place to come if you’re truly fed up with winter and want to see a world-class flower show,” says Show Manager Susan Davis. “The Ann Arbor Flower Show was picked by the New York Times as one of the 12 top shows in the country this year.”

Sponsored by the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the fourth annual flower show will include one-and-one-half acres of professional landscape exhibits, more than 200 horticultural exhibits and about 50 entries in artistic design classes. Horticultural experts will present lectures and demonstrations throughout the show. The Marketplace will offer gardening gifts, plant material, and tools and accessories for the home and garden.

Under the theme of “Walk on the Wild Side,” visitors will begin their journey in a typical Ann Arbor backyard garden designed to attract wildlife, particularly birds and butterflies. Painted ladies, Queens and Zebra Longwings will feast on the nectar of sweet alyssum, heliotrope and verbena, among other plant species in the garden’s greenhouse.

Other professional garden exhibits will invite exploration of different locales, such as a turn-of-the-century Sussex Bower and a dune retreat nestled between a beech maple forest and the shore of Lake Michigan. Still different environments in this class will include a contemporary Zen garden and a transitional plant community, “Alien Invasion,” where non-native plant species have invaded a community of native plants.

The Gardens has grown more than 10,000 plants to adorn the Show’s entrance and connecting walkways, which will be “particularly spectacular” this year, Davis says. Rows of daffodils, hyacinths and other flowers will border the paths. The walkways also will display entries in the show’s first birdhouse competition, including a Noah’s Ark design and a birdhouse made of Legos for the “Anything Goes” category.

Several of the exhibits will be child-oriented. The garden, “A Child’s Walk on the Wild Side,” by a professional garden exhibitor, will entertain with water, color and topiary—the art of shaping animals from live plants. Children can learn basic cultivation techniques at the ongoing mud pie hands-on demonstration, “Mud Pies.” Children and adults alike will delight in one of the most popular features, the miniature landscape class.

Plant societies will display the best and most unusual of their specialties, such as the American Gourd Society’s “practical and artistic uses for gourds.” Other societies will show off perfect specimens of orchids, wildflowers, herbs, conifers and rhododendrons.

Flower Show hours are 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Thursday–Saturday and 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday. Advance tickets are $6, children (age 12 and under) $3. Tickets may be purchased at the Gardens and all Michigan Kroger Food Stores as well as other designated ticket outlets until March 24. Tickets will be $7 for adults and $3 for children at the door. For a complete listing of ticket outlets, call the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 998-7002.

Senior Citizens Day will be Thursday, March 25. Tickets will be $6 at the door for people 60 years of age and older.

On Saturday and Sunday, a U-M shuttle will run to the fairgrounds every 15 minutes from the Briarwood Mall, Sears southeast lot and from Pioneer High School from the AATA kiosk. Shuttle rides will cost $1 each way.

The show’s Opening Night Gala, with a 1960s theme, will offer a private preview of the flower show and an opportunity for guests to mingle with plant experts 7–9 p.m. March 24 at the fairgrounds. The Gala will feature music by George Bedard and the Kingpins, drinks, hors d-oeuvres, and awards presentations. The flower show is a fundraiser of the Botanical Gardens. It includes a Standard Flower Show produced in cooperation with The Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan, Inc.