WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | A distinct sign of spring blossomed Saturday in Porter County.
The 11th annual Gardening Show at the Porter County Expo Center attracted hundreds of winter-weary folks who braved the wind-whipped, snowy and icy roads to see something green — if only for a few hours.
The show, sponsored by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and the Porter County Master Gardeners Association, featured more than 100 vendors, 15 seminars and a show favorite — a seed and bulb exchange of 9,000 seed packets and 5,000 bulbs.
Vendors displays included gourd art, birdhouses, jewelry, soap, decorative eggs, alpaca yarn, willow furniture and homemade granola, while gardeners learned more about composting, butterfly conservation, hostas, edible ornamentals and how to choose the right trees.
Maureen Phillips, chairwoman of the show, said at least six door prizes were awarded each hour, and two food vendors served breakfast and lunch to fuel shoppers’ strolls up and down aisles of vendor booths.
“There’s so much to do here that people come and stay all day,” Phillips said.
Rufus Reyes and his son, Frank Reyes, were surrounded by stalks of another sign of spring — cut pussy willows.
The Reyes’ grow 10 acres of the willows on their Lake Village family farm and offered a 10-stem bunch for only $2.
“We make it affordable so everyone can go home with something,” Frank Reyes said.
Lisa Jarratt and her daughter, Felice, braved the ride up Interstate 65 and witnessed seven jackknifed semitrailers and slide-offs on their way to the show.
“I’ve never been to Valpo,” said Lisa Jarratt, who purchased some pussy willow stems, gardening magazines, seeds and homemade toffee. “We saw the speakers, and we had a good time.”
“Incorporating new and old” glassware and plates, Wendy Baker displayed her “repurposed” creations, which included bird baths and tiered yard art.
Baker, the owner of Schererville-based Plates ‘n Such, recommended anchoring her bird baths and sparkling lawn ornaments to the ground with PVC pipe.
“They really are pretty durable,” Baker said of her creations. “I guarantee everything.”
Dave and Edie Eickemeyer were “excited” to pick up a few new seeds for their front yard flower garden.
“We’ll see how they can dress up our garden,” Dave Eickemeyer said.
Frank Reyes said the show was an opportunity to “be ubiquitous” and “get out in front of as many people as we can.”
“Everyone’s tired of winter. This is a nice retreat for a couple of hours,” Reyes said. “It helps you to think ahead ... to think of spring.”