The 2011 RI Spring Flower & Garden Show opened Thursday, February 24th. I predict there will be record crowds. This prediction is based on the fact that Rhode Island has been besieged by snow storm after snow storm and the endless expanse of white landscape leaves the spirits weary and the senses underwhelmed. This year the flower show committee has partnered with the American Heart Association to feature the Heart Association's campaign 'Go Red for Women'. Red is the dominant color this year and red is a great and warm relief for weary New Englanders. There are 28 exhibit gardens, a Standard Flower Show put on by the RI Federation of Garden Clubs, a marketplace featuring over 200 vendors and many lectures and demonstrations taking place at various times during the show hours. The Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association has a prominent position on the left side of the main garden entrance and they have outdone themselves this year with a walk through design featuring a shed with green walls and a green roof, a natural pergola and bench seating area, a rain barrel, and compost bins. Another garden contains a moon gate which is quite a feat of engineering and it also has plantings of foxgloves and delphiniums which are not the easiest of plants to force into bloom and then transport and install. The tall spikes are sensitive to damage but these look inviting and pristine. This garden relies on four season interest and the yucca complements the door to the greenhouse. The back side of the greenhouse is open to reveal a wonderful workplace and potting area. I have to say that this greenhouse with gardens and potting room is also one of my favorites. There are pergolas, statuary, water gardens, sitting areas, and stunning forced plant material. This azalea is part of a design implemented by a school and it looks as though it is related to the garden behind it with the scarlet doors. It is not but they do complement one another. Attention to detail always wins awards and this umbrella is festooned with leaves and mosses. This design relies on texture and the cool serenity which the color green provides. There is a garden with chickens which is only fitting given their current popularity with home gardeners these days. The chickens are kept company by a small goat and their chatter is a delight and certainly will draw the kids to this design. Hearts abound in many of the displays and some of the gardens are quite small. Small, but elegant, such as this bamboo garden. The exhibition by the RI Federation of Garden Clubs is really a competitive art exhibit. There are different classes, usually open to four competitors. Each exhibitor/competitor interprets the design criteria for that category with their own, unique design. Here are two examples of the Artistic Craft section- swimwear class. Exhibitors were given the mannequin torso and the swimsuit was created with fresh and/or dried plant material. It is amazing how different each design was and this one just begged to be touched. I did catch someone in the act. This flower show is at just the right time of year. The cold temperatures of New England are still with us and the spirit is weary. I think that many of the people who attend flower shows go for entertainment. From a horticultural or gardener's point of view my biggest disappointment is always with the vendors as there seem to be less and less garden related booths at these shows. Do you go to flower shows and if so, what do you look for at these shows? Do you look for unusual plants, unique paving designs, interesting stone work, garden art to buy, or just the gardens as a whole?