FOX47 NEWS - Madison Flower Show Going Strong; Others Close

Jeff Angileri
Mar 8, 2009, 5:39 PM

Another sign of the times -- flower shows across the country are disappearing as the recession deepens. After 137 years, organizers canceled the New England Flower Show -- an annual event that survived a great depression and two world wars. Shows in Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland and New York have wilted, too. But in Madison, the blooms are bright and plentiful.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens look and smell like spring -- a sensuous experience of a simpler time, fostered by gardens of beauty and bounty.

A lot of people are starting to grow their own fruits and vegetables. We're going back to canning. We're going back to more freezing now that we can, said Connie Bean, director of marketing at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

Horticulture staff worked for three weeks, cultivating gardens often relegated to the back yard, but presentable enough for front yard display.

'Back when people grew their own vegetables all the time, they integrated the flowers right in with the vegetables and the fruits, said Bean. We can do that. A lot of flowers are edible. It's fun to bring some beauty back into the vegetable garden.

At a time when gardens across America are dying in the recession, Olbrich, a free, public garden no less, is flourishing.

We really haven't felt a dip in attendance. In fact, when gas prices were really high last summer, so was our attendance, said Bean.

Thanks to memberships, donations, and support from the city of Madison, no cut backs are expected. Organizers attribute the steady stream of patrons to a warm weather urge.

Said Bean, They start bringing in the mulch, the flowers, dirt, and rocks, and it starts to smell like spring.

And for the young, and young at heart, a certain scarecrow is reminding people of a magical place over the rainbow.

He has no eyes, no nose, no mouth, said Sonia Harnish. It's like the Wizard of Oz. It's beautiful.

Olbrich's spring show is open through March 22nd. Admission is free, but gardeners are asking for a $2 donation.

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