BY JAMES MEROLLA
In saying goodbye to Februaryâ€™s freeze, the Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show put the petal to the metal.
That is, stainless steel fish made by designer Tyson Weiss of Maine â€śswamâ€ť in the â€śflowâ€ť through hundreds of delicate flowers,
Weissâ€™ Fish in the Garden booth was one of about 250 booths and vendors at the Rhode Island Convention Center, held over four days last week. By all accounts, it was a colorful, even spectacular indoor event, where businesses exhibited, demonstrated and sold unusual wares, pottery, hand grown seeds, plants, woven designs, books, exotic human food, herbs, exotic dog food, even carnivorous plants, to an estimated 30,000-plus visitors.
â€śThe fish add a fluid quality to a landscape without the expenses and maintenance of a water element,â€ť said Weiss. â€śUsing stainless steel and ceramics, we aim to deliver this fluid beauty in its organic forms to homes and gardens everywhere.â€ť
Kids from 9 to 99 seemed to love the fish, said Weiss. â€śA lot of people were seeing them for the first time and some were taking them home,â€ť he added. Mark him vendor, veni, vidi, vici.
They also enjoyed the nearby goats, rabbits and chickens. This is a flower show?
Flower Show promoter Maury Ryanâ€™s final â€śnumbersâ€ť are not in, but he said the four-day event, entitled â€śGardening With Heart,â€ť held in conjunction with the American Heart Association, went â€śvery well.â€ť
â€śIt was nip and tuck with last yearâ€™s (success),â€ť said Ryan. â€śIt was probably the best designed show we have ever had, and the marketplace (vendors) was fantastic.â€ť
Kris David, in charge of those vendors, said she had to turn away about 40 other vendors who wanted to exhibit, market and sell. â€śI could not accommodate them. When I take in vendors, I do look for Rhode Island business first. I want to boost the local economy,â€ť said David. â€śI go to local storefronts first.â€ť
David saw plenty of Rhode Island businesses on hand from Barrington (AAA), Exeter (A Piece of Paradise), Smithfield (Advanced Gutter Protection), Portsmouth (All Island Landscape), Cumberland (Annie Bâ€™s Farm), North Kingstown (Elcoâ€™s Painting), Johnston (Gerbs Pumpkin Seeds), East Providence (Green Works Lawn Specialists), Bristol (Lighthouse Publications), Woonsocket (Moonworks), Pawtucket (OMG International), Foster (Palmerâ€™s Global Magnetic Therapy), Cranston (Phantom Screens), and 30 more.
Some 200 other booths surrounded the local booths, from Florida (Ultra Balm) to The Netherlands, Holland (Wonderflowers); from Los Angeles (Ultimate Creations) to Osseo, Minnesota (Francis Metal Works); from Freeport, Maine (Brickyard Cove Pottery) to North Hollywood, California (Spring Designs) and 10 other states.
Visitors could buy virgin olive oil or virgin seeds; island jewelry and island vegetation; tropical foods or tropical plants.
They also wanted to buy any of the dozen plants native to Rhode Island that ate insects from John Phillip, Jr. of the New England Carnivorous Plant Society, based in Saunderstown, R.I.
But they couldnâ€™t.
â€śEveryone has heard of the Venus Fly Trap,â€ť said Phillip. â€śThere are a dozen (such) plants in Rhode Island, which is something that people are shocked to hear. They all eat insects, but plants in other parts of the world eat rats, lizards, mice, snakes.â€ť
Surprisingly, kids werenâ€™t as fascinated, he added, as men of an older vintage. â€śKids that see cars turn into robots, into weapons, thatâ€™s cool for them. But most adults think carnivorous plants are cool,â€ť he said.
Some of the extensive walk-through exhibits, which took days to ship in by truck and set up, virtual forests created in an empty room, were breathtaking to behold.
And the colors of the petals filled the senses.
â€śSpring in three weeks,â€ť said Rory Dutton, visiting Charlestown, R.I. from his native Virginia. â€śBut I couldnâ€™t wait. Thatâ€™s why I came here all day. To inhale, inhale and inhale again.â€ť