Flower shows brighten winter's gray days

Think spring by attending a nearby flower show.

By , AP Travel Editor

Enough already with chilly gray winter. Time to pick up a bouquet of bright pink tulips and start thinking about spring.

In many places, it will be weeks before daffodils and hyacinths start peeking through the ground, but there are plenty of flower shows to see in the meantime.

Some are big annual events with themes that change every year, such as the famous Philadelphia Flower Show, this year March 1 to 8 with a "Bella Italia" theme,  (tickets, $22).

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Other displays focus on one type of flower, such as the various orchid shows that showcase the jungle plant's intense blooms at gardens and exhibit halls around the country.

One of those annual orchid shows held each year just as the cold weather starts to lift is at the New York Botanical Garden."We're in the last gray days of winter," says Marc Hachadourian, curator of NYBG's Glasshouse Collection. "What better place to be than a tropical paradise filled with exotic orchids?"

Here's more information about orchid shows scheduled soon. Following is a list of other flower shows:

The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx hosts its seventh annual orchid show, this year showcasing the plants in a contemporary Brazilian garden design with fountains, pools, mosaics, and palms. "The Orchid Show: Brazilian Modern" takes place Feb. 28 to April 12. The garden is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; admission, $20.

-  The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis celebrates its 150th anniversary this year and has been hosting orchid shows for an impressive 91 of those years. The orchid show is called "Henry's Garden," named for Henry Shaw, who founded the garden in 1959. The show features more than 800 orchids with a Victorian theme, including a three-tiered fountain, large planters brimming with flowers, wrought-iron lamp posts, urns, and other period pieces to suggest a 19th century courtyard. The show runs through March 15 (garden open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $11).

-  Among the best places to view orchids are local and regional shows sponsored by orchid societies. The South Florida Orchid Society bills the 63rd Miami International Orchid Show as the largest exhibiting orchid show in the country. It will take place Feb. 27 to March 1 with a theme of "Secret Orchid Gardens" at the Doubletree Miami Mart/Airport Hotel and Exhibition Center. The program includes a juried awards competition, daily demonstrations by orchid experts, and sales of thousands of orchids and related items.

For a complete list of orchid shows around the country, visit the website of the American Orchid Society. Click on "Events," then "Show Schedule," to find listings for dozens of shows around North America and even some in the Caribbean and South America.

Here are a few scheduled for March; most include displays, juried shows, sales, and expert advice:

San Francisco Orchid Society Pacific Orchid Exposition, March 6 to 8, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco.

-  Smoky Mountain Orchid Society Show, March 6 to 8, West Town Mall, Knoxville, Tenn. (No website.)

International Orchid Festival, March 13 to 15, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami.

San Diego County Orchid Society Show, "Around the World with Orchids," March 13 to 15, Scottish Rite Center, San Diego.

Atlanta Orchid Society Show, March 12 to 15, Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

-  Greater Cincinnati Orchid Society Show, March 14 to 15, Krohn Conservatory, Eden Park, Cincinnati. (No website.)

Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, "Orchid Escape," March 20-22, Earl Warren Showgrounds, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Heart of Dixie Orchid Society Show, March 21 to 22, Holiday Inn Research Park, Huntsville, Ala.

Greater Omaha Orchid Society Show, March 21 to 22, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, Neb.

Illinois Orchid Society Show, "Orchids in the Mist," March 21 to 22, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Ill.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society Show, March 27 to 29, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa.

-  Alamo Orchid Society Show, March 28 to 29, San Antonio Garden Center, San Antonio. (No website.)

Western North Carolina Orchid Society Show, "Orchid Mystery: Journey to the Far East," March 28 to 29, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, N.C.

-  Illowa Orchid Society Spring Show, March 28 to 29, Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre, Davenport, Iowa. (No website.)

Other garden shows, festivals, and events

In addition to the Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the largest of its kind, many localities and botanical gardens host major events to celebrate the flowers of spring. Here are a few of them:

Chicago Flower & Garden Show, March 7 to 15, Navy Pier.

Boston "BLOOMS!," March 13 to 15, One International Place, 125 High St. and the InterContinental Hotel, Boston.

San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, March 18 to 22, San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, Calif. Organizers say this is the show's final year.

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C., March 28 to April 12.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Skagit County, Washington, April 1 to 30.

Atlanta Dogwood Festival, April 17 to 19, Piedmont Park.

Cincinnati Flower Show, April 18 to 26, Symmes Township Park, Symmes Township, Ohio.

Historic Garden Week in Virginia, April 18 to 25 . Events and tours around the state, from Mount Vernon and other historic landmarks to private homes.

Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage, April 25, May 2 to 3, May 9, May 16 to 17. Tours of historic and contemporary gardens around the state.

(Editor's note: We invite you to visit the main page of the Monitor’s gardening site , where you can find many articles, essays, and blog posts on various garden topics.)

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