Boston Flower Show 2018: Edible Gardening

Boston Flower Show 2018 posts:


[For introductory information on the 2018 Boston Flower Show, please check out the Intro post!]

The theme for the flower show this year was “Savor Spring”: “Colorful gardens and floral designs will incorporate elements of the popular food gardening trend including organics, small-space gardens, homesteading hobbies, edibles as ornamentals and family-friendly spaces for outdoor dining and entertaining” [italics mine]. I had to laugh at the “food gardening trend,” as if people and cultures have not produced food in their yards and in communal garden farms for centuries.


Some examples of edible gardening: Spinach and chard mixed in with ornamentals in window boxes in the Miskovsky Landscaping &  Haskell Nursery display:


Planters with basil, oregano, and other herbs in the Artistic Landscapes display:


An orange tree as part of the Windowbox Invitational “Space Savors” display: “Window boxes are the perfect place to combine edibles and ornamentals for a convenient and colorful crop!” The orange tree was not actually in a window box but below them:

There were only a couple of window boxes ready on this first day and I didn’t notice any edibles in them. Succulents, yes:


The Heimlich’s Nurseries display was one of several this year to showcase rosemary:

rosemary and heather
rosemary in bloom

Samantha’s Gardens, with its teepee and birch-bark canoe, also highlighted edible plants, like cabbages, rutabagas, snap beans, raspberries and blueberries, basil, sage … plus a beaver to eat them all:


Minuteman Regional High School included swaths of nasturtiums, an edible flower, in an unusual table-top water feature:


The Massachusetts Horticultural Society, sponsoring the show, interspersed figs, nasturtiums, greens, green beans, and a few herbs among non-edible plants in its display:


Note the matching outfits of the couple in the photo!


Hudson Valley Seed Co.’s display, “The Art of Seed,” was artful and oft-edible, showcasing art from seed packets for tomatoes, flowers, cucumbers, lettuces and other greens, and lots of others I’ve forgotten now.

Edible Flower Mix, Silver Slicer Cucumbers, and Mikado Tomato seed packet artwork and text
closer view of the Edible Flower Mix seed packet
original art for the Edible Flower Mix seed packet
closer view of the Mikado Tomato seed packet artwork and text, with a Kitsune (divine fox)
original artwork for the Mikado Tomato seed packet — Kitsune (divine fox)
wild arugula seed packet artwork and text
wild arugula itself — look at the large leaves
artwork and text for the Paul Robeson Tomato seed packet; I enjoyed these at a tomato tasting last summer
I’m not sure how this underwater diorama scene relates to the seed packets but I like the 3D crab
a healthy looking borage plant with seed packet
purple nicotiana flowers sans seed packet


Speaking of seed packets, one of several seed vendors at the show, Harvesting History,  had some interesting varieties, including a bunch of Asian seeds (Kitazawa Seed Co. brand) for vegetables I’ve never heard of or seen, plus some of the radishes I’ve been enjoying this year in my winter CSA.

Asian seed rack — Kitazawa Seed Co.
Kitazawa Seed Co.’s “Beer Friend” seeds in the Asian seed section  — a kind of soybean, apparently, as is Kouri, next to it
Heirloom Seed greens, plus kohlrabi, eggplant, gourds, at Harvesting History — I took the photo for the blue kale!
radish and pepper Heirloom Seeds for sale at Harvesting History

I bought some salad burnet seeds, which are hard to find locally; some watermelon radish seeds, because I’ve so enjoyed the winter CSA watermelon radishes these past few months …

watermelon radish from my winter CSA (Brookford Farm, Canterbury NH)

… as well as seeds for Gomphrena (globe amaranth), “an outstanding pollinator plant,” but when I got the packet home I read that they are difficult to start from seed and should be started indoors, which won’t be happening — anyone local want these seeds? I also bought a packet of Red Stem Malabar spinach (tsuru murasaki), which is a vining spinach, in the Kitazawa line.


The only demo/lecture I attended this year was the very first demo of the show, Trish Wesley Umbrell’s “Local Farms, Local Foods: All the Great Stuff You Never Knew You Could Raise in New England.” She is farm administrator of the Natick Community Organic Farm in Natick, Mass., and a dynamic, fun speaker who engaged the audience. I knew about most the vegetables she suggested, so I especially appreciated variety specifics (including dry land rice), descriptions of the plants (kohlrabi looks like a satellite is growing in your garden!), and ways to use some of the lesser-known veggies. The vegetables she named were garlic, okra, sweet potatoes, popcorn, rice, shallots, edamame (soy beans) and dry beans, and kohlrabi. Below, Trish with photo of okra pods.



While we’re in the realm of the edible, I should mention the booth with pet-friendly plants, including rosemary, rose, basil, sage, Gerber daisy, African violet, and of course cat (oat) grass, which our cat won’t touch.



I’m glad that the show is incorporating more food crops, kitchen and window box herb gardens, and more lectures and demos about local and edible gardening. The priorities are still ornamental plants; flower arranging, floral design, and conventional concepts of horticultural and floral beauty; and to sell garden construction services, garden design services, and other gardening products and services locally; but it seems that education and demonstration of botany, the importance of pollination, the concept of eating locally and planting natives, and food cropping are becoming more significant.


Featured image at top of page: artwork for Wild Arugula seed packet, Hudson Valley Seed Co. Exhibit.


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