Winter is good at lingering. Its icy grip struggles to hold back the green that will liven our dreary lawns. As people wait for the land to be freed of ice, they can find solace — and learn a little — at the 20th annual Bangor Garden Show, a display of flourishing flora April 8-10 at the Bangor Auditorium.
“When you first walk onto the auditorium floor, you’re hit with that smell, with all that wet earth and mulch, and especially after the first day of the expo, you’re hit with the smell of flowers,” said Bass Park Director Michael Dyer. “It’s something to remind you that it’s not that far away.”
The floor plan has allowed organizers to fit in 10 more vendors this year, raising the total to 52 booths of garden-related products and services.
“As far as we can tell, this is the first garden show of this size, just about anywhere, that has asked the landscapers to create a round gardenscape with 360-degree viewing,” said Dyer. “It almost didn’t happen because at first, a few of [the landscapers] balked at the idea … it’s a challenge to them.”
Three people with landscape or horticultural background judged the eight gardenscapes on Thursday morning, but the winning gardenscapes won’t be revealed until about 2:30 p.m. Sunday. First place will win $5,000; second place, $2,500; third place, $1,500; and five honorable mentions, $750. Everyone receives a prize.
“We don’t give them a theme; we let them go crazy,” said Dyer.
The gardenscapes feature everything from a “hobbit hole” structure (inspired by the “Lord of the Rings” book series) to a Japanese pagoda. Each landscaper identifies all of the plants on handout sheets for show attendees.
The show also will feature a demonstration series, display of artwork by 12 artists titled “Art in Bloom,” a cakewalk, a scarecrow contest and an Outside the Box Container Garden Contest for professionals and amateurs.
The Outside the Box container gardens provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about plants and designs. A laminated sign indicating the plants used in the display and lighting conditions required will accompany each container. Plant categories include vegetables, herbs, mixed annuals, mixed perennials, shrubs and houseplants.
The annual Bangor Garden Show ran consecutively for 18 years until 2009. After a one-year hiatus for financial reasons and because of a drop in attendance, the city of Bangor revived the show in 2010.
The garden show used to be the primary annual fundraiser for Keep Bangor Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that no longer exists.
“When in 2009, it didn’t happen, it left a big void in our event calendar and in people’s early spring plans,” said Dyer. “We couldn’t sit around and wait for someone else to come in with something.”
Attendance decreased from 15,000 in 1998 to 7,286 in 2008, but it was still one of the best-attended consumer shows held at the facility, according to a previous Bangor Daily News article. Last year, the show drew about 7,800 into the auditorium, and organizers expect attendance to increase this year, according to Dyer.
Businesses displaying gardenscapes are Central Maine Stoneworks of Newport, Entwood Bonsai of Burnham, Flagstones of Guilford, Greencare Plantscapes of Hermon, Half Moon Gardens Inc. of Thorndike, Harbor Shore Landscaping of Bangor, McGlinn’s Wee Gardens of Brewer, Mitchell’s Landscaping of Brewer, Moonshine Gardens of Unity, Sprague’s Nursery of Bangor and the University of Maine Horticulture Club of Orono.
This year’s garden show will be held 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at Bangor Auditorium. Admission is $5, and tickets are available at the door. For general information about the show, call 947-5555 or visit www.bangorgardenshow.com.