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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Flower Power

Flower Power

Being stuck inside for three months can give you a mind-numbing case of cabin fever. Spring won’t come soon enough after this year’s especially harsh winter. But for the week of March 15-23, we could at least delude ourselves into believing that it has. Welcome to the New England Spring Flower Show, the annual event that gives the illusion of a world in full bloom trapped between the walls of the Bayside Expo Center.

With over two million blossoms and more than fifteen hundred varieties of plants, trees, and shrubs, this affair has a little something to offer everyone. For the gourmet, wine-tasting and delicious, spicy dips courtesy of bitterherbfarm.com. Whether you’re looking for functional or feng-shui garden arrangements, there are plants of every variety. Over 150,000 people attend annually and this year’s exhibits offered a description of the land space and possibilities offered by the Central Artery Project.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the show has a theme each year, this one being “the Garden Journey.” “At this year’s show, exhibitors will depict the magical voyages that occur in our gardens. Whether it’s the garden’s offering of vicarious travels to other eras or lands, the rewarding ‘before and after’ of the patiently-tended space, or more literally, a captivating metamorphosis from one end of the garden to another, a true gardener enjoys the journey as much as the destination!” writes the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Both UMass Boston and UMass Amherst have participated in presenting educational and informative exhibits garnering awards and ribbons in years past.

UMB’s contribution to the 132nd New England Spring Flower Show was to tell the story of the knotweed; its journey from Japan to Europe and finally America as well as its hybridization as it combined with other native species to create an impressive variety of offspring all deriving from the same ancestral genome. Samples of mixed parentage plants, some growing and others under glass, bore testament to the versatility and unpredictability of one plant when mixed with many. Besides documenting strange sightings of the plant in countries such as Canada, England, and the U.S., the display, humorously, also offered a recipe for knotweed pie.

Japanese knotweed apparently goes by any number of names including outhouse weed and donkey rhubarb “apparently a reference to the fact that someone would have to be ‘as stupid as a donkey’ to try to eat this or think it was rhubarb,” according to www.fisher.bio.umb.edu/knotweed/commonscientificknotweed.htm.

However, it was UMass Amherst that received a bronze medal for what judges called “a courageous use of limited space.” UMB’s sister school created a garden appropriate for an urban environment where open areas are precious and hardy plants are necessary, creating what they described as “contrasts in texture and color with trees in a linear pattern.”

Besides offering garden mock-ups and creative cut flower arrangements, there were any number of plants for sale ranging from exotic orchids ($35 and up), to baby coffee trees ($350), and zinnias ($10). I consulted some of the nursery owners as to what plants would be good for a student on the go with a tight budget that are also low maintenance. Ferns and mosses are good for a quick bit of green, needing water but not too much sunlight. My personal favorite though: cacti. There are many species of succulent that need watering only once a month and will still flower. Cacti can withstand a great deal of neglect, are hardy, and provide an interesting look for a room when placed in small, decorative pots and artfully arranged.

For those with an interest in horticulture, visit www.masshort.com, the website of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. To learn more about how to control the knotweed, visit www.ex.ac.uk/knotweed.

About the Contributor
MiMi Yeh served as arts editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2001-2002; *2002-2003; 2003-2004 *Evan Sicuranza served as arts editor for Fall 2002 Disclaimer: Years served is based on online database and may not detail entire service.