Spring blooms early at state fairgrounds

Timonium trade event showcases designs for homes inside and out

March 03, 2003|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

Visitors to the Maryland Home and Garden Show over the weekend were happy to leave behind towering piles of dirty snow and ice to spend a few hours where spring had arrived - thanks to the displays of blooming flowers, green grass and flowing streams.

"It is nice to be somewhere where you see grass and flowers, and they're not white," said Mike Kierce, a machinist from Catonsville.

He wandered through the large display gardens at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium yesterday with his wife, Cheryl, a homemaker, "just getting ideas" and letting daughter Erin, 4, check out the decorations and waterfalls.

Inspiration was plentiful at the show, in its 21st year, for both do-it-yourself types and those in search of professional services, particularly where 18 landscape companies set up full-scale gardens using the theme "Historic Maryland."

Royalty Landscape & Design in Lutherville evoked the historic Victorian style and Chesapeake Bay-area foliage of Havre de Grace, using a cobblestone walkway and a slate wall around a small pond.

"This year I think patios are what's in," said Gregory H. Tracey, Royalty's president. "Treated lumber is on the outs," he said, and ground-level stone and brick sitting areas are more popular.

Plants native to Maryland are also popular for their ability to withstand drought, deer and insects, said Jeff Sachs, a landscape consultant with Kroh's landscaping service. Kroh's and Fox Run pond builders won the best in show award for their waterfall, large pond and shrubs and trees inspired by historic Oella.

Several exhibits also showed off what could be done in a townhouse garden, including one by New Edge Design that incorporated a gravel walkway, a small fountain and bright flowers.

"There are a lot of townhouses going up everywhere," said Michelle Cheek, who owns the Towson business with Johanna Hoehner. Even a with a small space, "you can still make it a very comfortable, welcoming area," she said.

In addition to the garden displays, booths lined the aisles with plants, gardening implements and tools. In another part of the building, vendors showed off hundreds of products to improve the inside of Maryland homes, including windows, garage doors, hot tubs, security systems and cookware.

Another building housed numerous artisans for the Maryland Spring Craft Show. Also, this year, the show included a horticulture hall with gardening and educational exhibits. During the second weekend of the show, which will run Friday to Sunday, that hall will house the Maryland Orchid Society Show and Sale.

This is the time of year that landscapers get booked up, said Bill Minster, landscape designer with Kingsdene Nurseries and Garden Center in Monkton. Large projects need to be planned ahead, he said, and the snowy weather has given companies a late start.

"The demand for [landscaping] is incredible," said Minster, whose company won best in show last year. "People are staying home more" and remodeling their outdoor areas, he said.

"It seems like we're up a little bit this year" in attendance, said Jeff Plummer, show manager with S&L Productions of Glen Burnie. About 80,000 people attend the show over two weekends each year.

"I just have to see spring. I just have to see flowers," said Barbara Greene, a homemaker who moved to Lutherville from Boston a year and a half ago. She said she is ready to update the garden of her new house.

Baltimore has a longer growing season with more options for planting, Greene said, but she misses her former hometown's stone walls and may consider having one built.

"This just gets me so excited and ready for planting," Greene said.

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