Flower show comes back in full bloom

One of the landscape exhibits that brims with recent cultivars at the revived Boston Flower & Garden Show now at the Seaport World Trade Center. One of the landscape exhibits that brims with recent cultivars at the revived Boston Flower & Garden Show now at the Seaport World Trade Center. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
By Carol Stocker
Globe Correspondent / March 26, 2010

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The Boston flower show, a 138-year-old tradition, is back after a lost year. It runs through Sunday at its new venue, the Seaport World Trade Center. This is a smaller and shorter event than the old New England Spring Flower Show that used to be at the Bayside Expo. But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

The old flower show, which claimed to be the country’s largest, covered almost five exhausting acres and sometimes seemed overblown and uneven. The good news is that the new Boston Flower & Garden Show, produced by the Paragon Group of Needham, delivers most of the good stuff without leaving you footsore.

Every landscape exhibit is choice and brimming with recent cultivars labeled in botanical Latin to satisfy the cognoscenti. And this time the vendors whose booths extend along the sides of the exhibition area are selling only plants, not tablecloths and curtains.

There are many cures here for the March blahs. Howard Design, Weston Nursery, and Downing Landscape have collaborated on a bright symphony of red, yellow, and orange flowers illuminated by chartreuse foliage plants such as ‘‘Golden Spirit’’ smoke bush and sedum ‘“Angelina.’’ (Karen Howard actually scrounged the fetching lawn furniture from a neighborhood curb.)

Jim Donahue of Green Animals in Portsmouth, R.I., has created an amusing assortment of life-size topiary animals (which will reappear at the Newport Flower Show June 24-28 at Rosecliff in Newport, R.I.). Peter R. Sadeck displays a menagerie of live exotic birds roosting in a grove of perfect flowering dogwood, shadblow, and cherry trees to create the fantasy effect of a Victorian children’s book.

A few things don’t quite work, such as a primitive sculpture head that suggests the setting for an episode of “Lost’’ in the Mahoney’s Garden Centers exhibit. There’s a botanical illustration exhibit, but a bigger draw is the offbeat “Garden of Cakes,’’ where dessert decorators compete to sculpt the most creative frosting flowers. Some are amazing.

Like Heimlich Nurseries, Allen C. Haskell Horticulturalists, Earthworks, and many others, Paul Miskovsky of Falmouth is one of the stars of the old flower show who has rallied to help make the new show a success. His hilltop landscape in collaboration with Webster & Co., has everything: a tomato garden, an outdoor shower with a claw foot antique tub (with floating rose petals instead of bubble bath), soaring sculptures, and a rustic white garden house with a planted roof. Miskovsky’s attention to detail rewards close viewing from all sides.

With this show, Boston has regained the title of the best flower show in New England. Carolyn Weston is show director and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society oversees the amateur horticulture and floral design competitions.

BOSTON FLOWER & GARDEN SHOW At: Seaport World Trade Center

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 17.

For more information, including daily lecture schedules,