The growing season is still weeks away, but a favorite perennial — the Macy's Flower Show — is about to open.

This year, the spring pick-me-up ritual promises an especially vivid contrast to the chilly gray outdoors of Minnesota in March. With the theme of "The Painted Garden," Bachman's is transforming Macy's downtown eighth-floor auditorium into an exotic floral fantasy: 10 gardens showcasing the jewel tones and spice-market hues of India and Asia.

Get ready to experience zone envy: While some of the 120 plant varieties will be hardy in the Twin Cities climate, you're sure to see a lot of beautiful stuff that we can't grow here. Bachman's is bringing 24 truckloads of plants, flowers and soil to create gardens that reflect the wide geographic diversity of India, from dry deserts to coastal jungles. The centerpiece of the show is a multicolored 10-foot painted elephant covered in a blanket of flowers and bearing a howdah (Indian carriage) also adorned with plants and flowers.

The flower show's offshoots will include a number of special events, including cooking, art and floral demonstrations, and brunch with the Easter Bunny. If you can't make the show opening weekend, watch for a full-blown look at this year's display — minus the fragrance — in Wednesday's Variety Home + Garden.