Sunday, February 18
Overview: Cleveland Home & Garden Show
The Cleveland Home & Garden Show is held each year in early February at the IX Center--a huge soulless warehouse of a building. I can never decide whether the display gardens breathe life into its metal frame or whether the natural beauty suffers in the cavernous, badly lit space. Probably a little of both. The timing is right, though, for plants and gardens to delight and inspire those who are weary of the whitish greyish brownish monotony of a Northeast Ohio winter.
This year, the main theme for the gardens was "Ireland," with a secondary theme of "green." A modern and environmentally friendly interpretation of an Irish castle was the centerpiece of the show. I'm not sure what I expected from the castle, but I wish that more information had been made available on the green building techniques and how they could be adapted by homeowners to improve our own "castles."
The interior of the castle was mostly disappointing. The two bright spots were the works from local artists featured throughout the house and the gorgeous kitchen cabinetry. The exterior was beautiful, though, and combined form and function very well. The first picture features a corten steel sculpture of lilies that graced the front patio. (I loved that--I'm a sucker for corten and other rusty metals.) Beyond the sculpture you can see the solar panels on the garage roof and a small waterfall that spills into the "moat" water feature.
The second picture shows a green roof that was visible from a second story walkway. The grass courtyard surrounded by square planting beds is pretty, but I couldn't help but think there are more practical planting options than grass when you are building a green roof. I also couldn't see where the excess water from the roof drained, even though it was obviously built on a slant--I suppose that these are some technical details that aren't worth worrying about when you're building a short-term display, though.
Next to the doorway that led out to the green roof were a pair of espaliered bay laurels that made my jaw drop. I have been checking out my two bay plants every since, wondering why I never thought to prune them into interesting shapes!
The castle was the first thing we walked through when we arrived; after that we moved on to the display gardens. Twentysome gardens were created by various landscape professionals and garden centers, most of them "in tribute to" or "sponsored by" (I can't quite figure out how that works) a local media talent.
The first display garden that we came to after exiting the castle was not quite like the others--there were no obvious signs with TV station logos and glossy, smiling mug shots at its entrance. It was simply a ring of standing stones surrounded by a waist-high berm of grass. A flat stone walkway encircled the standing stones, and at the center of the stone circle was a misty bog filled with heaths, heathers, orchids, ferns and moss. It was delightfully mysterious, a Druidic ruin brought into the modern day.
Most of the rest of the display gardens were not so much in keeping with the "Ireland" theme. Even when they were lovely, they did not quite transport you to anyplace other than an expensively well-done backyard... and I really wanted to be transported.
Although I was not very enthusiastic about the display gardens overall, some did have interesting features and ideas. I have a few pictures to show: Some great use of stone, how much interest you can create with just green and brown in a composition, etc. I also found an interesting way to use rusty metal in a practical application in my own garden!
All of that must wait for another day, however. I am never good at being concise and I'm sure that I have gone on quite long enough for one post. In the meantime, you should be able to click on any one of these pictures to see it in a larger size, if you want to take a closer look.