Jump into spring at these US flower shows

Hope may spring eternal, but once winter settles in, it is easy to lose hope waiting for the new season to arrive. It seems like an eternity before temperatures rise and the first hints of green peep through the ground. So in the meantime, head to an indoor flower show to inspire your outdoor spaces and remedy your spring fever.

With seminars, kid-friendly activities, and designer gardens, these temporary botanical creations may be under a roof, but they over-deliver when it comes to inspiration. Whether you're looking for new flower hybrids or just trying to cure the winter blues, here are the eight best flower shows happening around the US this springtime.

A red-brick building with two towers at the end of pier; the exterior is decorated with potted plants and trees.
Navy Pier is the venue for the Chicago Flower & Garden Show © Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Head indoors in The Windy City to an event that dates back to 1847. The Chicago Flower & Garden Show originally started so locals could connect with other horticulture enthusiasts while presenting their fruits and flowers. Today, the premise still stands as newbies and master gardeners alike gather at annual themed events.

Patrons stroll through oversized gardens and construct DIY projects. A vast number of seminars – with themes such as beginning gardening and growing food – take place over a five-day exhibition. Not to be left out, kids can foster a love for gardening by participating in potting parties in a dedicated children’s area.

Arkansas Flower and Garden Show

If heading to Little Rock is on the docket, then stop by the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show to get an early taste of spring in a big way. Founded in 1992 by a group of professionals with a desire to promote horticulture, the event offers a wide variety of educational talks to help would-be gardeners succeed.

In addition to a display garden competition, there is a juried flower area where assembled arrangements, as well as individual blooms, win awards. Be sure to set aside a bit of spending money for the silent auction as the event raises funds for college horticulture scholarships.

A display of potted bonsai trees of different sizes and varieties.
Bonsai experts will be on hand to answer queries at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show © Julija Janevica / EyeEm / Getty Images

Connecticut Flower & Garden Show 

Another established event, the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, began in 1981 and is known for its extensive line-up of workshops. Nationally recognized authors and garden experts discuss topics such as encouraging pollinators and designing for changing climates. 

The Bonsai Society of Greater Hartford is on hand to ensure that patrons channel their inner Mr Miyagi (Karate Kid, anyone?) and trim tiny trees to perfection. When the mercury drops, this Connecticut event has a lot on the agenda to warm up your green fingers.

Maine Flower Show

Sometimes shows are born of necessity, which is the case in Maine. When another established show closed in 2015 – creating the lack of a 2016 event – the Maine Flower Show stepped in to take over the venture in 2017. Since then, the event has grown into quite the exhibition. The main attraction is a presentation garden, where visitors can view native plants, stonework, and water features all in a natural-looking environment.

The show prides itself on letting its patrons find inspiration through workshops, which include sessions on planting, lawn care, and installing hardscapes. Plus the next generation can test out their gardening skills at the interactive children’s garden. 

A view looking down on an adult and a child potting cuttings of plants in an indoor setting; there are various gardening tools laid on the table.
The Maine Flower show offers workshops for would-be green-fingered visitors to learn new skills © bondart / Shutterstock

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show, which was founded in 1989, takes place in Seattle, Washington. Everyone – from those who wish to play in the dirt a bit, through to seasoned gardeners – will enjoy five days filled with book signings and gardening forums.

Competition is fierce within the one acre of show gardens as awards such as Best Design and Best Use of Color are up for grabs. Exhibitors have just 72 hours to construct their displays and impress the awards panel of well known gardening authors and designers with their living artwork. 

PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo

For almost three decades, PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo has been inspiring gardening enthusiasts in the Midwest. The environment at this event allows gardeners to share ideas and connect with other like-minded folks as they celebrate the latest gardening and landscaping trends.

Don’t miss the farmers market on Saturday, which features local produce and culinary artisans. Special attention has been given to the children’s area, which has its own set of seminars with a focus on growing seeds and interactive nature play.

A small crown of people looking at indoor display gardens at the Pennsylvania Flower Show.
PHS Pennsylvania Flower Show is the longest-running indoor even on the US gardening calendar © JWCohen / Shutterstock

PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

Started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is the most significant and longest-running indoor show. Each year the event revolves around a specific theme, which inspires exhibitors to create stunning gardens that will be judged on design, difficulty, and creativity. The bar is set high: many of the entries include landscapes featuring moving parts, water features, and elaborate floral sculptures.

Visitors can construct creations to take home in the DIY area, and the exhibition offers before- and after-hours experiences, such as a photography tour for those who wish to take pictures unobstructed by other show-goers. If you are curious about new plant varieties and sustainable gardening, you can pop into one of the educational seminars to kick-start your season.

Five white urinals have been used as planters for tongue-in-cheek floral displays.
Flower show attendees might be surprised by some of the more inventive displays © PJ Taylor / Getty Images

San FranNor Cal Flower & Garden Show

Creating gardens that are both functional and beautiful is the goal of the San Fran–Nor Cal Flower & Garden Show. It originated in 1985 in San Francisco as a fundraiser for the local parks, but it has since taken up residence in Sacramento. Those who enjoy eating the literal fruits – and vegetables – of their labor need to stop by the edible garden display.

This event features four buildings of inspiration, with one wholly dedicated to display gardens alone, and both newbies and experts can learn how to create thriving outdoor spaces at one of the show's many Seeds of Knowledge seminars. Mean,while creative activities for the little ones abound in the Sproutopia area, so be sure to take the kids along too!

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