Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Capital District Garden and Flower Show

Even though I most certainly should have been doing my reading for class tomorrow, academic papers on ecological valuation (basically, putting a dollar value on the natural world) palled in comparison with the prospect of going to a garden and flower show. I have ethical reservations about the entire concept of ecological valuation, as I am sure many environmentally-minded people may do - but that is neither here, nor there.

I almost missed this event. I certainly didn't know about it until I went to my bank on Friday afternoon to make a deposit. Just as I was turning away from the teller desk, I saw a little information card and picked it up. It just so happened that that card was also a $1 admission coupon. I almost didn't go this morning, but I was curious to see what I could learn there.

There were flower displays with various design themes, submitted by professionals, people from the local garden society, and amateurs. I only took pictures of the ones I liked the best. The one above was designed with a theme of repeating containers. It was very dramatic (the containers looked black in reality), and I found the combination of roses and bird-of-paradise very fresh and unusual.

This next, asymmetrical arrangement, was much nicer in reality, too. I tried fiddling with my camera settings, but I couldn't prevent the overexposure. The flowers are arranged in a conch shell, and the delicate pinks and peaches of the tulips and orchids echo its tones.

This next, impressive arrangement (the design theme was Roadsidia, meaning things you can find on roadsides - natural materials such as rocks, twigs, moss, etc.) also looked much nicer in reality. Some of those twigs are flowering quince, and just beginning to bud and bloom. There is also a small bird's nest in the centre of the arrangement.
Finally, I found my gaze continually drawn back to this "vignette". Out of all the different coloured vignettes there today (white, pink, purple, blue), I found this one the most striking, and not just because of its colour. There are interesting objects included in the scene, and some unusual flowers were included as well. And it is so cheerful, on a cold, overcast day.
I went around all the displays and stalls and gathered information on community gardens (which will be useful for a green space project I am doing with a group in one of my classes; see, I got some work done!); I found out about a new food co-op they want to start in Troy (just across the river from me); I attended seminars on flower arrangement, caring for a propagating African violets, and general gardening, and I managed to do a shameful amount of shopping as well.

I found a gem of a stall, the Apothecary Rose Shed, that sells quality organic herbs and spices. At the moment, they're a mail-order business operating out of Latham, NY (about 10 minutes away), but they will be opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Rensselaer (next county over) soon. The owners were very friendly and knowledgeable. I bought some lavender (for baking, and tea), rose hips (also for tea; I've never tried them before, but they're very high in vitamin C), and some American saffron.

They opened up their huge container of saffron and let me smell it, and it was divine! They had two types of Spanish saffron as well, but they were both around $10 for a very small amount, whereas I bought 1/4 cup of the American saffron for $1.50. Yes, the lady told me, the colour and flavour aren't as intense. But, since I've never cooked with saffron before, and would like to experiment, and since I don't have a Spanish-saffron budget, I thought this stuff would do nicely.

I bought some raspberry jam from Gypsy Wind. She also had some very interesting, spicy blueberry jam (when I mean spicy, I mean with the addition of chili peppers), which was nice, but I wasn't sure I would eat an entire jar full. Then, I bought two flavoured honeys from Traphagen's; hazelnut and lemon. Yum!
I also couldn't resist these soaps, from Simple Scents Australia (an Australian company, but with a distributor in Massachusetts). I can never buy enough nice soaps, since I'm always giving them away to people, or using them up myself. From the top down, I have frangipani, jasmine, lavender blossom, chamomile & calendula, and honeysuckle.
And so here I am, back at home again, but having enjoyed myself immensely and having garnered more gardening knowledge. I was surprised at how many non-garden related booths there were, and was a little disappointed we didn't have more of the local nurseries and garden centres represented, but it was definitely worth a visit.

1 comment:

greeeenwithenv said...

I remember studying ecological valuation at Cornell. There are certainly some questionable methods out there, but sometimes the only way to get through to people is to use the language of dollars and cents. It's sad!

Looks like you had a grand time at the flower show! I think I missed the one here in San Francisco. :(