Gardeners reflect on early spring at Maryland Home and Garden Show

An early spring has disrupted gardens across the Baltimore area.

Almost all of Krista Mooney's spring bulbs have bloomed, but the early arrival of springlike weather has left them strangely stunted.

"They're blooming and they're not going to last as long as they normally would," the 53-year-old Parkville woman said Sunday at the Maryland Home and Garden Show in Timonium. "My garden doesn't like it, I don't think, because they didn't have enough time underneath."

The March edition of the semiannual Home and Garden Show is usually a precursor to spring. But this year, spring has already begun to arrive.

Glen Gutierrez, who had the show's featured garden just inside of the main entrance of the Cow Palace at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, said the cherry trees this year blossomed on their own. In past years, he forced them to blossom using a hothouse.

The Greek-themed garden Gutierrez created featured a statute of the sea god Poseidon reflected in a long, rectangular pool surrounded by pea gravel. Gutierrez used scraps of marble to add to the Greek ruin vibe.

The plants included the flowering cherry trees, hemlock, fothergilla, hellebore, tulips and narcissus.

Gutierrez, who owns European Landscapes and Design in Lutherville, won Best in Show at the Home and Garden event last year.

The fothergilla spent three to four weeks in a greenhouse.

"The cherries, we've had in the past to force them in a greenhouse to get them to flower in time — it seemed like every year," Gutierrez said. "This year, if you walk or drive around, you'll see they're flowering now naturally. It's unusual in that sense.

"Obviously this year we've had temperatures well above normal and more days above normal temperatures, so we're seeing things come up a lot earlier," he said.

After an usually warm February, data collected by the National Phenology Network has shown that buds are swelling and leaves are sprouting in the Southeast three weeks earlier than normal.

Debbie Chenoweth said she loved the early spring. The Middle River woman said her garden isn't quite blooming yet, but some of her lilies are coming up. She said she hasn't cleaned up her garden from last year.

She called this winter "fantastic."

"It's going to push me a little to get out and clean things up to make room for the stuff that is popping up," said Chenoweth, 66.

Deneen Martin, who lives on a farm in Gaithersburg, said she's not quite sure how to deal with the impact of the early spring on her garden.

"Everything's starting to bloom and the trees are starting to bud, and that presents a problem if we get a cold snap," she said. "I'm just waiting to see what happens. I'm just hoping we get a little more cold weather."

The Home and Garden Show featured vendors selling everything from gutters to Vitamix blenders. Children and parents stood in line for an opportunity to feed butterflies and visit a petting zoo.

A featured speaker at was Laura Dowling, who is promoting her book "Floral Diplomacy at the White House" about her time as the White House's chief floral designer from 2009 to 2015.

Dowling gave tips and techniques for designing flowers "in the White House style," including by wrapping greenery around vases.

First lady Michelle Obama favored many flowers from the garden in bright colors, including peonies and roses, Dowling said. President Barack Obama "at one point said that his favorite thing about living in the White House was the flowers, I think because they change all the time."

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