“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” by the Late Pete Seeger

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Mark Faunce, of McHutchison, Horticultural Distributors Since 1902 !

Mark Faunce, of McHutchison, Horticultural Distributors Since 1902 !

Sue Arnold, a gra;phics designer in Portland, Models Her New Fascinator She Bought at the Show.

Sue Arnold, a gra;phics designer in Portland, Models Her New Fascinator She Bought at the Show.

Jeff Marstaller, of Cozy Acres Greenhouses:  "We need more varieties from the South."

Jeff Marstaller, of Cozy Acres Greenhouses: “We need more varieties from the South.”

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,729)

“Where have all the flowers gone?” was asked by many Portland Flower Show visitors as they left the event over the past 4 l/2 days.  “It’s more of a landscaping show than a flower show,” said one first-time visitor to  the show who is also an Old Port business owner. “I was there for the flowers but where were they?”

Last Monday, a 53 ft. tractor-trailer from Orlando, Florida arrived at the Show doors at 58 Fore Street  with 3,000 to 4,000 pots of outdoor plants – including geraniums and daisies – said Mark Faunce, of McHutchison, horticultural distributors all over the northeast. It was the first year that his company supplied the flowers for the Portland Show.  The truck contents had been ordered in advance for exhibitors at this year’s Flower Show. “We could not get the forsythia and lilacs that people expect to see at this Show.  The polar vortex went so far south this year that it affected the varieties we could buy.  It’s very hard to force plants into bloom in northern New England,” he said.  In January, greenhouses that force flowers and plants begin, but the length of the day is key to that success. Here in Maine. the days are not long enough to do that. Fewer and fewer greenhouses in northern New England are willing to force plants these days.  Email Faunce at: mfaunce@mchutchison.com

“Maine  greenhouses can force only certain plants and flowers during the winter time.  They include pansies, geraniums, seneti, and ranunculus. Two years ago every flower in the Show was forced by Cozy Acres Greenhouses,” said its owner Jeff Marstaller, at his exhibit “Jack is Our Hero” yesterday afternoon.  People got tired of seeing those same flowers year after year and wanted to see something new. So Martstaller began experimenting, year after year, with new plants and flowers for the Show.  Most of them didn’t survive.  “I can’t run a business like that,” Marstaller said.  “We need more varieties of plants from the South.”  Marstaller suggested delaying the Portland Flower Show until Mother’s Day in May, but most exhibitors and vendors are too busy to devote the necessary time to the Show. So, last fall he told the exhibitors they’d have to get their flowers from the South this year and that’s when Faunce stepped-in as described above. Pls. visit www.cozyacresgh.com for more.

Jim Masse, of Estabrook Nurseries, made another case for Florida flowers and plants when he said that it’s hard to color from tropical plants in the northeast.  “The light in Florida is closer and stronger to the plants so you get the color that folks really like.  We can’t get that here.”

A new vendor to the show that deserves a creativity award was “Fun Fascinators For Fabulous Females.  The designer of the charming and reasonably priced fascinators is a graduate of the Syracuse University School of Architecture and a former math teacher.  For more call 207 406-0061 or kaleelesarkisahlers@gmail.com.

Phin Sprague, Jr., a show organizer, said that another deterrent to the forcing of plants to bloom in northern New England is the increasingly high cost of propane to heat the greenhouses.  “It’s just too expensive for some of them.  I think exhibitors did an excellent job of working with the problem this year, but the problem is not yet resolved.”