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Flower Show captures diversity and beauty of spring

The 125th Anniversary New England Spring Flower Show

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Bayside Expo Center, Boston (seven stops from Kendall at JFK/UMass on the Red Line).

March 9-17, Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Sun 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

$13 weekdays, $15 weekends.

By Teresa Esser
Staff Reporter

The 125th Anniversary New England Spring Flower Show provides an excellent way to forget about about the snow and slush for a few hours and to concentrate on the arrival of spring. The show, presented by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, includes a wide variety of landscaped gardens, flower arrangements, bonsai booths, spring-theme dance exhibits, and sculptures comprised entirely of vegetable matter. If you are a connoisseur of plants and vegetable matter, you will love the gourmet feast of color, motion and perfumes that await you inside the Bayside Expo Center.

To look at the exhibits is to wonder at the incredible diversity of plants that exist in the world. There are orchids and pansies, roses and carnations, bromeliads, fungi, and firs; japanese spruce trees, rhododendrons and baby's breath; eucalyptus and lilies; ferns, ficus and fruit trees. There are azaleas and gladiolas, daffodils and tulips, and just about every other kind of cultivated plant that you can think of.

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society estimates that the exhibits contain over 2 million blossoms, 8,000 pounds of boulders and rocks, and 1,500 varieties of plants, trees, and shrubs lit by an equal number of theatrical spotlights. In addition, the exhibitors cover their pots with enough bark mulch to provide a one-inch cover for over 15 football fields.

In addition to featuring the flowers and plants, many of the exhibits include elaborate mechanical extras. One bonsai and lichen-based exhibit includes three separate model trains that wind and twist through an elaborate model village. Another features a dragon made of birch logs that opens its mouth and blows smoke. There are waterfalls, a disc-operated player piano, an elaborate reproduction of the Esplanade's hatch shell, and a variety of flower-enhanced representations of daily life in Chinese and Japanese villages.

Although held in the grandiose Bayside Expo Center and presented with all the fanfare of a world championship sporting event, the darkened walkways and piped-in birdsong combine to give the show a museum quality. From the moss-covered chair with a bed of roses for a seat cushion to the herculean flower vases with arrangements worthy of display in the world's finest hotels, the overall effect produced in the mind of the viewer is one of wonder. How is it possible to have so much luxury condensed into so little space, and for so little time?

It is amazing to think that such ornate exhibits requiring so many hours to set up, maintain, and take down will only be presented for nine days.The show's ephemeral quality is entirely in keeping with the nature of the flowers themselves. Fortunately, visitors who wish to take home some of the brightness will appreciate the elaborate Market Section, which offers plants and supplies at discount prices. Visitors are advised that the best time to view the show and avoid the crowds is after 4 p.m. on weekdays.