We are in the throes
of the winter trade show season. But, as crowded as they are, only
a small percentage of the nurseries in the vicinity of the show
ever seem to attend. The same is true of flower shows. No matter
how crowded they feel at times (remember standing in line for the
bathroom), there are too many gardeners who have not yet discovered
how much they open your eyes to other people's ideas.
Both trade shows and flower shows bring the best of plant material
into one place. Yes, you can read about it, and see great pictures
in various magazines, but I defy any journalist to catch in words
the fragrance in the flower show tent early in the morning when
it first opens after being closed all night, or, with the best of
camera equipment, to record the changing brilliance of a flower
as it catches the light.
Gardening is not necessarily
keeping up with the Joneses, but commercial horticulture is not
only keeping up but spotting trends and preparing to satisfy them.
If you read an account of the display at a show, you share the analysis
of the writer with everyone else who gets the magazine. But go there
for yourself, and you create your own impressions and sense for
yourself where the leaders are heading.
Doing a show properly
takes time. There are friends to greet, salespeople who turn from
a voice on the telephone or signature on a letter or e-mail to flesh
and blood who will remember you on your next call and be that much
more willing to help.There are the hints to pick up of what is hot
and what is cooling off, the rivalries and mischief that can be
fed with a half truth or two, and the renewal of the sense of belonging
to a society of like-minded growers.
Shows do take time, time
when you could be potting or ordering, time when the summer weeding
gets a little bit ahead of you. But it is time well spent, for the
change from routine that it gives, for the fellowship and for the
few short hours when the jobs waiting back at the ranch can be set
aside with a good conscience. If you have never got into the habit
of doing a show or two each season, give it a try. You will grow
from the experience.
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