The University Record, March 11, 1998

'A Gardener's Fair' opens March 26

Matthaei Botanical Gardens hosted a media briefing in late February for this year's Flower Show, the last one to be held at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds. Photo by Bob Kalmbach

Julia Lovejoy joins her mother Lois in painting a backdrop for this year's Flower Show, which starts March 26 under a theme of A Gardener's Fair. Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

It's the last chance to experience it as you've known it in the past. The 9th annual Ann Arbor Flower and Garden Show, sponsored by the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, will open its doors at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds for the last time March 26-29. As Michigan's largest indoor flower and garden show, the Ann Arbor show will be changing its format and location after this year's presentation of A Gardener's Fair.

Lectures, demonstrations and a gardening forum are just some of the highlights of this year's show that also features eight major exhibit gardens and 560 dramatic floral design arrangements and exotic plant exhibits. Among the celebrities featured in the Fair is Cassandra Danz (a.k.a. "Mrs. Greenthumbs"), who will be available to sign her new book and speak on Flowers that Bloom Throughout the Season.

Other features include a 2,600-square-foot garden titled A Feast for All the Senses in which the flowers can be eaten and the vegetables displayed in vases.

A playful theme for kids of all ages will be found in Dr. Doolittle's Bloomin' Zoo, an interactive children's garden where crossing a babbling brook brings visitors into a garden fantasy of ivy topiary figures, a swing and a scavenger hunt for perennials with animal names such as bear's breeches, bee balm, lamb's ears and foxglove.

Show hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. March 26-28 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 29. Gates close one hour before the show ends each day. Advance tickets for adults are $8 and may be purchased at all Michigan Kroger stores. For free shuttle information, show details, opening night Gala particulars, and more detailed ticket information, contact the Flower Show office, 998-7002.

For its 10th anniversary in 1999, the Ann Arbor Flower and Garden Show will be staged at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens as four separate events that will include not only the best of the annual Flower Show, but a greatly expanded set of activities that will take place over the course of a year.

Changes begin taking place in the fall when the Fall Festival explores the use of plants by Native Americans and early settlers in southeastern Michigan through a variety of displays and activities for all ages. An expanded Open House will highlight winter 1998, followed by the 1999 Spring Plant Sale, an Ann Arbor tradition for more than 15 years.

This also will include some of the Flower Show's most popular elements. To top off its new look, the Mid-Summer Flower Show in July 1999 will not only continue the traditional elements of the Ann Arbor Flower Show such as exhibits by garden clubs, plant societies and the Marketplace and an evening Gala, it also will feature the Botanical Gardens themselves at the height of summer when everything is in peak bloom.

Add to this a performance art series, and the 350-acre oasis of winding nature trails, formal gardens, wetlands and a Conservatory housing more than 1,200 tropical, warm-temperate and arid plants from around the world become a hub for year-round activities and a one-stop resource in southeastern Michigan for plant material and gardening advice.