This morning I got a real surprise. After attending a very fun JCRA plant distribution I decided to stop by the NC State Fairgrounds to check out the Flower and Garden Show area. I had heard that changes were being made there and wanted to see just what was going on. Last year Erv Evans, noted in the world of North Carolina Horticulture, took over as the superintendent for the Flower and Garden Show. So I thought I’d see what he’s been up to. I’m afraid to say that I haven’t seen much of the show at the fair in a few years, but I used to enter many flowers, arrangements and once even created a patio garden there. I also used to volunteer at the JCRA’s (before it acquired that name) booth selling T-shirts and showing off new plants.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed with my impromptu visit. After a quick walk around to see what was happening, I ran into Erv. He was working on the new train garden. Yes, train garden. Model trains will be installed in the garden by the NC Garden RR Society. Nearby, a cute replica of Thomas the Tank Engine will have his own spot in a red, white and blue garden designed just for him. Tom Staley of Tom’s Train Station in The Shops at South Hills is providing the little engine that young visitors are sure to enjoy.
Erv told me that he’s been working all summer installing new plants, digging out long buried hardscape and rebuilding, fixing water features, finding volunteers to help… Oh, yeah, that’s something he really needs right now–volunteers. Volunteers are needed to help get things ready. He also needs help during the fair and probably after (I forgot to ask about that). Jobs needing done include everything from hanging flower baskets to sorting bottles for the flower show. Even just sweeping up before and during the show would be helpful. Email Erv at email@example.com to volunteer.
Back to the show. Erv said that the hot dry summer has been tough on the plants and on volunteers. Many volunteers from the Gardeners of Wake County have been helping as well as some NCSU Horticulture students. Recent heavy rains hammered lots of the plants (they still looked good to me) and caused some extra clean up work. Erv has gotten many donations of soil and plants. Daddy Pete’s has provided soil and mulch for the gardens, plants have been provided by Proven Winners including some gorgeous annuals in the square brick planters between the patio gardens. The mum tree is back this year as well. A metal form holds dozens of mums in full bloom. Apparently the form has been gathering dust for a few years.
Erv’s put up some impatiens “trees” despite the difficulties of having them stolen and damaged. They look great now. Eventually, he’d like to have them all the way down the boardwalk.
Sculptor Joe Carnevale has created a special praying mantis sculpture just for the flower show. Joe became well known after his first Barrel Monster created quite a stir in Raleigh. Garden club members donated material for this fascinating piece–I won’t give it away, so be sure to take a look at what those were. Here’s a sneak peak:
Two barrel monsters will also be at the show, one male and one female. Be sure to bring the kids to see these monsters. I heard a wedding might be on the schedule. There will be a bamboo sculpture by Will Hooker and his NCSU design students–apparently, chickens are involved. I can’t wait to see.
Erv mentioned something about pink flamingos as well. He nearly apologized for such a thing, but nothing’s tacky at the fair–after all you can get deep fried pickles there, can’t you?
As usual, there will be three separate flower shows, so you’ll see fresh material during the entire fair. (The show building will be closed for judging on 18 and 21 October–everything outside will be open all the time.) This year there will be a judged bonsai show as well. The Triangle Bonsai Society has always had an exhibit at the show, but this year you’ll see more of this wonderful art. Erv said that there are more than one hundred demonstrations scheduled during the fair. The show area will be lit at night and should be really pretty after dark. Each garden should have lighting, so check it out. The show will be open until the fireworks each evening.
So, if you can help get the show ready for fair opening, please let Erv know what you can do. I know these tired volunteers could use your help. You can just see the worry on this Barrel Monster’s face as she leans a weary forehead against a tree. Erv had a similar look, but took no time to do any leaning.
Be sure to tell everyone about the great changes and don’t miss the show this year. There really is something for everyone to enjoy at the Flower and Garden Show.
One more thing, check out this fun video of the Top 10 Reasons to Enter the Flower and Garden Show. It’s too late to enter this year, but keep them in mind for next year.