Tuesday, February 12
Am I Cured? (Cleveland Home & Garden 2008)
Last year, I was enchanted with the annual Cleveland Home & Garden show, as was evidenced by the fact that it inspired three separate posts in February. This year? Well... let's just say that the show left a whole lot to be desired, with a few shining exceptions.
I have no idea what the price tag might have been on this huge potted agave, but suffice it to say that I was drooling over it. Usually, I would want to see it in a dark pot to show off its pale leaves, but here with a white classical statue in attendance it looks perfect in its washed out terracotta pot. Sadly, this was one of the very few nods toward Italianate style in the gardens on display.
Preview articles in The Plain Dealer hyped up the importation of real Italian cypress trees to fit the theme, "Bella Italia," but in reality the vast majority of the display gardens featured plants familiar to most NE Ohio gardeners: Astilbe, hosta, coralbells, and the like. I could have taken this picture of pine-wooded loveliness at last year's show, and it would have been more believable in an Irish garden (except, of course, that thirsty plants would not really thrive in competition with the roots of pines) but it just doesn't say "Italia" to me!
I found myself searching the gardens for a grapevine--or maybe a pot of lavender or rosemary--and one of those extremely formal layouts that I love to admire, just Not In My Garden. But there were none to be found. It was as if this year's show went out to prove ruthlessly what Rick from Whispering Crane Institute pointed out last year, that these display gardens are meant to sell landscaping, not really to cater to gardeners.
And while I realized the truth of his words, I still longed for something to excite me as a gardener. The hyacinths smelled lovely on a cold winter day, and some of the ironwork was beautiful, too, but none of the display gardens really hooked me. Nothing enticed me to walk up some steps or peer into a "watery gateway to hell" like features in last year's gardens. And judging by the fact that it was a busy day and yet people strolled through the displays quite quickly, I'm guessing that I wasn't the only person, gardener or no, who felt this way.
There was one garden, however, that made me stroll through slowly, to better absorb some of the thought that went into it. Petitti Garden Centers put together a wonderful display garden last year, complete with a "moss monster" on an arch, and this year's display was similarly wonderful.
The little vignette here was not very Italian in feel, but it did include some adorable metal garden art, great use of texture, and a fun grouping of bromeliads as living artwork.
Petitti's did give a few nods to the "Bella Italia" theme, however, with large urns, some gorgeous standing columns, and a grape press that was incorporated into one bed. Their piece de resistance, however, IMHO was this wonderful patio.
Okay, the patio itself was nothing all that special, but get a load of that gorgeous green roof! It had everything from peperomia to wandering jew. With those houseplants, you know it wasn't hardy enough to be duplicated outside... but I definitely appreciated the sentiment. (And all of the texture!)
But once we left the Petitti garden, we quickly grew tired of the "As Seen On TV" booths and the hawkers who tried to entice us over to test out their gadgets. These annoyances and the letdown of most of the display gardens convinced us to leave the show after just an hour, in fact. So while I won't go so far as to say, "I will never go to the Home & Garden Show again," especially if I continue to luck out and get free tickets... well, let's just say that I won't necessarily be as eager to attend the next one as I was this one. (Unless, of course, my curiosity gets the better of me yet again!)