This weekend was SpringFest, held at the Sussex County, NJ Fairgrounds. Garden designers, landscapers, garden centers and vendors from around New Jersey come together to create sample gardens, talk up their businesses and ideas, sell garden accessories and plants, and generally make it feel like a lovely spring day inside the buildings at the Fairgrounds.
Every year something is improved about SpringFest and I always look forward to seeing what will be enhanced; this year the entry hall was streamlined with ticket booths on either side of the main entry, making the whole wait-in-line-and-pay thing so much more pleasant. For years, window box displays were tucked inside the main entrance; this year they were replaced by small front yard/porch designs; the fresh decorating ideas for the upcoming season were also a welcomed change.
After I’ve thoroughly explored the sample gardens scattered around SpringFest I love looking at the vendors’ offerings. This year I came home with cut pussy willow branches; now, you might think pussy willow isn’t anything special, right? Wrong. The pussy willow I purchased has miniature catkins; I’ve never seen such small fuzzy catkins before so I bought a bundle. When I got home I recut the branches, plopped them in water and am waiting to see if they root. If so, my girlfriend Pat, who generously gives me so many plants, will be the happy recipient of some of the rooted cuttings.
Another new acquisition is my “plant pie” (www.plantpie.com). I purchased a mixed herb (mixed flowers were also available) black plastic “pie,” which will sit in my sunny kitchen window for a couple of weeks before I transplant it into the large container that sits next to our gas grill outside (it’s easy to snip/add to whatever’s on the grill when the pot is so close by!). The NJ folks who created this marketing concept grouped vigorous organically grown herbs like mint, oregano, thyme and rosemary together in a shallow black plastic “pie.” Once home you are supposed to “fill any container or basket with soil, create an indentation using the pie tray, remove plant pie from tray and place in soil. Easy as Pie!” It’s an easy way for non-gardeners/beginners to learn what grows well together in containers. And for well-seasoned gardeners like me? I love a great concept, especially when nice people from my home state create it!
Speaking of Jersey born and bred, take a look at these calla lilies.
Have you ever seen such ones this large? I spoke with the woman who was selling the cut stems. She explained that she is a third-generation N.J. grower of these beauties. They are over-the-top, and yes, I brought three home. And put them in a tall glass vase in my front entry. As each family member walked through the door that night, I waited to see if they would notice/comment on the callas. Every single person stopped dead, stared, then immediately walked over to the callas, exclaiming at their size and beauty. And every single person who has walked through our front door over the weekend has done the same thing. Cool, huh?
Now, I’m a wine drinker, pinot grigio in particular. And I’ve tasted NJ wine in the past and haven’t been the biggest fan. That said, my good friend Pat bought us each a glass of wine to sip as we navigated SpringFest this year; mine was a pinot grigio, natch! I just want to say that my next blog post will be about what I think of this particular NJ winery!