|Berkshire Botanical Grow Show Invites Thumbs of All Colors|
|By Nichole Dupont, iBerkshires Staff|
12:05AM / Friday, August 05, 2011
|The Berkshire Botanical Garden is hosting its 42nd annual Grow Show this weekend.|
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Some gardeners snub their noses at zinnias, marigolds and even day lilies.
These blooms have earned the somewhat dubious distinction of being "commoners" in the plant world, especially in the shadow of bromeliads and gladiolus. But the Berkshire Botanical Garden welcomes all blooms and vegetables with open arms; whether spiky house plant or a big-headed sunflower, there is a place for it at the garden's 42nd annual Grow Show.
On Saturday, Aug. 6 and Sunday, Aug. 7, the garden invites exhibitors big and small, amateur and experienced to show off nature's bounty in the crown event of the Berkshire growing season. According to communications manager Robin Parow, the garden's first priority is to act as an educational institution. This means, she said, reaching out to and engaging even the smallest green thumbs.
"One of our main responsibilities is to take the children on a journey," she said in a phone interview. "That's why we offer a free workshop the day before the show so that kids can create an entry arrangement with the help of some of our garden folks. The show is also a way to reach out to the very youngest 5-year-old to the backyard newbie gardener to the diehard grower. It's very motivating for everyone. You don't have to be a horticulture expert to enter."
Parow expects anywhere from 100 to 200 entries for the some 50 divisions for annuals, perennials, veggies, house plants and arrangements (which include categories such as "Bird's Eye View," "Forest Glen" and "Barks and Burls"). There is even a photography category complete with three divisions. Parow said the broad range is to encourage entrants as well as visitors to literally see what's "up" in Berkshire County and to have a positive, professionally judged experience.
Gardeners of all ages are encouraged to show off their talents and their plants for the show.
"It's as user-friendly as possible," she said. "When you bring your little calendula plant here on Saturday morning people will be eager to help you, especially with identification and presentation. Helpers are there specifically for first-timers. We wanted to step away from that image of being exclusive, to the point where we changed the name from 'Flower Show' to 'Grow Show.' Literally, if you can grow it then you can show it."
Make no mistake, however: the Grow Show is a serious event complete with expert judges and faithful entrants.
Barbara May of Richmond has been both an exhibitor and organizer for the show in past years.The Berkshire bounty is spectacular in its own right,she said, perhaps because of its positioning within Zone 5.
"I've seen some beautiful items over the years," she said. "I've also learned what grows well and what new varieties — perennials and annuals — are out there that can thrive in this climate. Of course organic vegetables always show well."
May said she anticipates a banner year for the flowering shrubs category, in which entrants trim one branch from their prized perennial and display it in a glass vase.
"I've seen some absolutely gorgeous flowering shrubs around lately," she said. "Some of the hydrangeas are just spectacular. Last year, I learned of a flowering lilac that blooms in the middle of summer and that there are four or five different colors of coneflower. It's really amazing what people bring in."
Georgeanne Hughes has been "picking stuff" for the show for the last 20 years. A self-proclaimed "dedicated amateur," she comes out for the flowers as much as the camaraderie.
"It's a wonderful atmosphere when everybody is bringing in their blossoms and setting up," she said. "Everyone is so gracious and although it's very friendly, it's still judged by the highest standards. Even the most modest marigold can be considered ribbon-worthy. It doesn't need to be the rarest new oriental lily. In fact, that's the whole concept of the botanical garden to begin with, to see what grows well and beautifully right here."
For more information about the Grow Show, visit the Berkshire Botanical Garden website or call 413-298-3926. Exhibitors receive free admission to the garden.