By Dwain Hebda
One of the joys of living in Arkansas is the ability to celebrate the beauty of each season of the year. And nothing says that spring is right around the corner than the annual Arkansas Flower and Garden Show.
“The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show is the state’s largest flower and garden show. We offer a lot of things of interest to both horticulturists and landscapers,” says Ryan McGeeney, publicity chair for the event.
“We’ll have more than 100 vendors who have everything to sell from seeds to landscaping equipment to things you need to build a great deck. We’re going to have more than 30 how-to speakers, and these are 30-minute classes where we have experts in all kinds of fields give small demonstrations, tips and answer questions on how to do a lot of things in your garden.”
This year’s attractions will also include the return of famed Arkansas gardening personality P. Allen Smith. Smith, who was born in Little Rock, is a well-known television host, garden designer, conservationist and lifestyle expert.
“P. Allen Smith is a pretty brilliant gardener,” McGeeney says. “He’s well respected. He’s appeared at our show before in various ways in the past, and the fact that he’s coming back this year, I think, speaks both to his popularity and also the show’s ability to bring people to him.”
One popular element of the show is the display gardens prepared by local vendors. These elaborate displays give attendees a snapshot of what’s new in garden design, water features, lighting and outdoor living spaces. Also not to be missed is a huge hanging centerpiece in the venue, Barton Coliseum, prepared by Tanarah Luxe Floral.
“The way I see it is the show tends to reflect what is popular and what is doing well among both hobbyists and professionals,” McGeeney says.
Onsite vendors will also provide the latest in gardening technology, plant stock, seeds and just about anything else needed to transform an outdoor living space.
“One thing we like to point out is this gives us a chance to support local businesses,” McGeeney says. “It also gives us a chance to bring in really interesting vendors from across the state who are making stuff available that’s of real interest to our horticulture and landscaping community. You can find these people on the internet, but it’s not always convenient to try to travel to them, so we’re really happy to bring that to central Arkansas.”
The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show is also a family attraction, and a means to get kids turned on to conservation and gardening. Each day of the 2020 show, the first 50 kids in the door get a free plant to help them develop a green thumb.
The show was begun by a small group of dedicated individuals, who established it as an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is managed by a board of directors consisting of 14 members. The show has partners that include the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs, and University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardener Program. First Community Bank is the platinum sponsor of the event.
After years being held downtown, the show relocated to the State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. Most of the attractions will be held at Barton Coliseum, but don’t miss the Arkansas Federation of Garden Clubs juried flower event and the various how-to presentations being held in the Arts & Crafts Building, sponsored by Francis Flower Shop. Parking is included in the price of admission and shuttles will be available to assist attendees with mobility issues to move about the grounds.
Proceeds from the show go to fund worthwhile efforts to beautify Arkansas and develop the next generation of horticulturists. Money goes to the Greening of Arkansas grant program, funding community beautification projects on public land and horticultural students attending Arkansas colleges and universities. Since 2006, the show has generated $70,000 in scholarships and over $126,000 in grants.
2020 ARKANSAS FLOWER & GARDEN SHOW
Little Rock, Arkansas
February 28 – March 1
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Adults $10; a 3-day pass is also available for $15
Children 12 & under FREE
For additional details or to purchase tickets, please visit argardenshow.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.