Pointing out her favorite variety of pansies is Holly Ozsvath,… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
Coming out of the snowiest Maryland winter on record, thousands of Marylanders got a jump-start on spring at the Maryland Home & Garden Show where tulips, daffodils and pansies were in full bloom.
Last month's blizzard inspired McCarroll Nole of Baltimore to attend the annual show on Sunday for the first time.
"We are tired of the white stuff. We want to see some green. We want to see something come out of the ground," said Nole, who brought a camera with him to record ideas for sprucing up his flower garden.
The annual event at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium typically attracts 60,000 visitors over two weekends. This year's event, which started on Saturday, is on pace to surpass the usual attendance by 20 percent, said Jay Plummer, the show's producer.
"Everyone has been cooped up all winter because of the snow," he said.
Jim and Geri Moorhouse of Riverside are perennials at the show, but they said they were looking forward to the event more than usual this year.
"It's a touch of spring. It's something green," said Jim Moorhouse, holding poppy seeds, clover and Canadian flowers he had just purchased. The thigh-high snow that once blanketed his backyard has melted, he said, but remnants of a 10-foot snowdrift in the front of the house left by a snowplow remain.
Phyllis Floyd, a semiretired church secretary, couldn't wait for the home and garden show, itself a harbinger of spring.
"We are so glad to have no snow, and it's so good to get out," said Floyd, who bought two plant stands made out of willow branches.
She might return next weekend to buy some plants. Her garden in Lutherville is still partly under snow, so there won't be planting for some time. "But I'm waiting - and I'm hopeful," the 70-year-old said.
Some exhibitors said visitors seemed to be in a sunnier mood.
"They are glad to see the snow melting, and I am, too," said Kim Carlisle, owner of Wellspring Gardens in Rockville. "They are eager not only because of the snow, but because of the sour feel in the economy."
Tough financial times have created many first-time gardeners, Carlisle said, adding that sales of such edible plants as tomatoes and herbs have blossomed.
"They are staying at home," she said. "They are fixing their houses. They want to enjoy their landscapes. Even with the bad economy, last year was my best year ever."
The show features about 450 exhibitors pitching garage doors, shea butter, pools, pest control, landscaping, water jets, garden furniture and just about anything else for inside or outdoor living.
Plummer said this year's attendees are loosening their purse strings. During the fall show of 2008, when the stock market was in a tailspin and the Great Recession well under way, visitors didn't spend much, he said.
"Now, all of a sudden they are breaking free," he said. "Our exhibitors are saying they are doing fantastic."