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These buds are for you

March 11, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

May flowers arrived early as thousands of gardening enthusiasts, undeterred by March showers, attended the 6th annual Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association Flower & Garden Show on Saturday.

"The weather's so nasty, people can't play outside," said vendor Charles Rake, owner of Greencastle Coffee Roasters. "They have to come in here to play."

By early afternoon, nearly 1,500 people had flocked to HCC's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, where the smell of Rake's fresh-roasted coffee beans mingled with a hodgepodge of floral fragrances.

The strong turnout fueled event organizers' hopes that the show, proceeds from which benefit HCC's amphitheater project, would draw 5,000 visitors by its end this afternoon.

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Profits from the 1999 garden show tallied more than $16,000, said Shirl Grattan, co-chair of the event

This year's event features the largest scope to date of exhibitors, vendors, garden club and florists' displays, children's activities, lectures and demonstrations, said show Chair Judy Kofoet.

The ARCC was filled to capacity with 80 vendors - 10 more than last year - boasting goods and services ranging from butterfly shelters to wind chimes, tacos to tractors.

The Susquehanna Valley Garden Railroad Society, of York, Pa., spent eight hours Friday constructing a "railroad garden," which consists of toy trains moving through a multi-level evergreen garden on about 75 feet of track, said society member Melody Schubert.

Also new this year, area florists showcased their talent with elaborate fresh floral arrangements.

"It's magnificent," said Dot Palla, of Hagerstown. "Look at the orchids, the Gerber daisies, the pussy willow. You don't realize how talented these people are until you see work like this."

Vendors such as Country Home and Health, Colleen's Grapevine and Aromatherapist Eugenia Keller, all of Smithsburg, said they also spent hours arranging their goods in eye-catching displays.

Taylor's Landscape and Concrete, of Williamsport, created a checkerboard of paving stones. Hagerstown-based Water Connection displayed a working spa inside a gazebo.

Booth browsers voted for the best-dressed dining table among the seven entries from area garden clubs.

"I think the vendors get more creative every year," Grattan said.

"We are really proud of it," Kofoet said. "I think it has really become the event that people look forward to in the springtime."

Hagerstown resident Michelle Hess said her pilgrimage to the show is an annual tradition.

"I'm an any-flower person," said Hess, who cradled an armful of fresh-cut roses.

Eleanor Sheridan and Joanne Pickett, both of Hagerstown, took a break from shopping to enjoy some of the event's many food offerings.

"We like this show better than the bigger Timonium show," Pickett said.

"I think they have more fresh flowers here," Sheridan added. "There's a nice variety."

There were dried flowers, silk flowers and cut fresh flowers. Violets, pansies, herbs, shrubs, terrariums and wreaths. Petals painted on gardening gloves and stamped in silver jewelry.

And roses, buckets of roses.

Roger Danner, owner of Danner's Greenhouses in Williamsport, framed his flower-filled booth with hanging baskets

"Everything's selling," he said.

While many visitors shopped, others listened to guest speakers talk about topics ranging from medicinal herbs to soil conservation practices. Christine Flanagan, of the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, presented a slide show outlining renovations to the famous facility.

The Easter Bunny handed out lollipops to children such as Carolyn Windsor, 9, of Smithsburg, Ryan David, 8, of Hagerstown.

Both children enjoyed planting sunflower seeds and making tissue paper flowers and butterflies at the children's planting and art area, they said.

Other children stuck their smiling faces through holes on a flower-painted panel so HCC Alumni Coordinator Lisa Stewart could create for them unique souvenirs using a digital camera and computer.

The show will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

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