MHS Flower Show Committee
The Massachusetts Chapter's MHS Flower Show Committee is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the Chapter's Rhododendron exhibit at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's Spring Flower Show. And what an effort this represents!
Planning, design, and plant selection has to be completed at least by December of the previous year. Designers and show coordinators visit nurseries, nursery fields and wholesale growers to make sure they have just the right plant material with just the right flower buds.Selection of plants has to take into consideration not only forcing time and conditions and even the fact that many times the flower color does not force the same in greenhouse conditions.
Brochures for public handouts are designed and printed. Forms are filled out for MHS. Volunteers are solicited to man the exhibit.
Once the plants are selected a forcing schedule is established. Plants may begin coming into the cool greenhouse in late December. Extra forced plants prepare for the unexpected; such as an unusual break of warm sunny days or cool cloudy days. The Greenhouse Crew share the work and the enjoyment of watching the buds. This is like having 2 springs in the same season! Informal weekly meetings help to keep everyone working together like a symphony. As the show approaches the anticipation starts to mount.
Setup is the climax and a flurry of activity. It hard to imagine how it all come together in what seems like a very short few days. It never fails that weather is a big factor! Hardscape must go in first; landscaping ties, plastic liner, gates, rocks, paths or whatever the designers have planned. The plants now ideally approaching peak bloom for the opening day, have to be moved to the Bayside Exposition Center with skill and quickness. The more hands the merrier! Volunteers with soups and sandwiches are a welcomed sight. The final placement and preening of plants is a skill that is learned as you go.
More volunteers are recruited to man the exhibit throughout the public hours. Members take a lot of pride in their high quality exhibit. Many people are surprised to find out that such a wonderful exhibit can be done through dedicated volunteers. But then the Massachusetts Chapter has horticultural professionals and "could be if they wanted to be" horticultural professionals which is one reason it is such a nice organization. The love of plants and especially rhododendrons is a common bond. Can't forget to keep watering and preening each day to make the exhibit as beautiful on the last day as the opening day.
If you think its over when the show closes you are wrong. Takeout is the process of getting plants and hardscape out of the exhibit. Plants go back to the greenhouse where they need daily watering and continued care until sold to members at cost. A great way for members with a little green thumb to get a living piece of the exhibit. The plants do need more care their first year but success with these plants has been good.