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Ever seen this flower before? Here's a hint: You're not likely to find one blooming in a local back yard.
It's a chocolate cherry orchid, one of the many tropical plants on display at this year's annual Macy's Flower Show.
The theme is "The Painted Garden." A team from Bachman's has spent many months planning and growing exotic plants, followed by nine full days of installation, to transform Macy's eighth-floor auditorium into a Southeast Asian-inspired garden getaway. Think of it as a passage to India without the airfare.
This year's show is a kaleidoscope of brilliant color, designed with color-block plantings that take their cue from sets painted to celebrate Indian architecture.
The centerpiece of the show is a giant Asian elephant statue covered with a blanket of dried and fresh plants and flowers and bearing a howdah (Indian carriage) filled with dozens of tropical blooms.
Bachman's designers Karen Ortiz and Leah Schmidt used 20 different kinds of plant material to create the blanket alone.
You can experience this year's flower show firsthand starting Sunday, March 24, when the show opens for its two-week run. (For information on hours and related special events, including classes and the Bouquet of the Day, visit www.macys.com).
In the meantime, if you need your flower fix, look for a video tour of this year's show that will be posted Saturday on startribune.com.
And if you know your stuff when it comes to plants, see how many of the 20 plants you can identify in the elephant's blanket.
Consider me inspired. I spent some time yesterday wandering the Home & Garden Show, always a fertile place for ideas on the home front. I had spring fever, so I lingered in the display gardens, where this year's theme is classic TV shows.
A garden inspired by "I Dream of Jeannie"? Yep. And "Miami Vice" and "Gilligan's Island." The nine TV-inspired gardens are a blast to stroll through. Don't miss 'em!
But even if you're not planning something that elaborate for your own landscape this year, you'll still find plenty of ideas and resources for beautifying your home, both inside and out.
Greengirls, the Star Tribune's garden bloggers, will be at the show to dish the dirt.
Want to be in the know on what's new? Tonight at 6 p.m., you can learn about the hottest garden trends, from edible landscapes to the latest water features, presented by Greengirls Connie Nelson, Mary Jane Smetanka and Helen Yarmoska -- on the Lifestyle Stage.
Stick around after the presentation for free seed packets and gardening calendars, which will be handed out between 7 and 8 p.m. in the garden area.
If you can't make the show tonight, the Greengirls also will be making the show this weekend, handing out free sees and gardening calendars, and answering your toughest garden questions. On Friday, March 1, 5:30-6:30 p.m., the Greengirl of the day will be Helen Yarmoska. And on Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m.-noon, it's Martha Buns.
Come say "Hi," pick up your free seeds, and check out a garden fit for a genie -- or a shipwrecked castaway.
When I picture artificial grass, I picture a sports field filled with screaming green Astroturf. Definitely not something I'd want in my yard.
But there's cheap phony-looking fake grass and fancy fake grass. The latest offering in the fancy category is DuPont ForeverLawn Select Synthetic Grass (www.foreverlawn.com/news-dupont), featuring a "low-sheen, multi-colored blade structure." The secret of its realistic look is the tan thatch at the base, the better to mimic the real thing. "People really like that feature," says Donna Kent, marketing director for Forever Lawn. The rap on fake grass has been that it looks "too fake, too green."
I tend to think of synthetic turf as more of a southern thing -- not something that could keep its looks after sitting under snow for six months. But Kent insisted that the new product "can perform under extreme conditions at both ends of the climate spectrum. The snow falls, it melts. It doesn't damage the grass."
What's a fake lawn cost these days? The new Select Synthetic Grass sells for $5 to $9 per square foot, depending on which of four versions you select, plus another $2 to $4 per square foot for installation. (This can be a DIY project, according to Kent; the company is currently working on an instruction video.) "Ground preparation is important," Kent says. And the grass has to be installed with the blades facing the same way or you end up with a striped lawn.
Clearly, a quality fake lawn is not cheap. But if you truly hate lawn chores, or have conditions where natural grass is difficult to maintain, it's an option.
There's also been some debate about the environmental impact of real vs. fake grass. Calling a plastic lawn "green" sounds counter-intuitive. But artificial lawns do conserve water and eliminate the need for fertilizer and fuel for mowing. On the flip side, manufacturing the grass also carries an environmental cost. And where does it go after it's no longer lawn-worthy? (For a more detailed discussion, visit www.slate.com/id/2191200/)
What do you think? Would you ever consider a fake lawn?
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