For a while there, we thought spring had sprung. But despite Minnesotans’ perennial optimism, there’s little use trying to move the season of crocus, tulips, daffodils, pansies, and violets forward—unless you’re planning a visit to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory’s annual Spring Flower Show. This year, in the Sunken Garden, more than 10,000 bulbs from Holland are already abloom in warm shades of buttery yellow and apricot orange, amid an array of lush green foliage.
“This is definitely the most labor intensive flower show that we do, but it’s also our most popular,” says Paul Knuth, horticultural supervisor. “After a long Minnesota winter, people are really longing for some color and we do our best to give them what they’ve been missing.”
The flower show, which runs through April 24, also showcases a sunny array of ranunculus, snapdragon, hydrangea, hyacinth, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, calla, and Bearded Iris, in addition to the early spring bloomers mentioned above. The horticulturalists start a year ahead—immediately after the previous Spring Flower Show closes—to plan the next show, studying seed and bulb catalogues, and investigating upcoming trends to create a display that will feel new.
To keep the show fresh, and at its peak throughout the run, the flowers are replaced several times. Because the bulbs are grown at the conservatory, they’re readily available. Designing the Sunken Garden is easy. Because the room is symmetrical, horticulturists design one side, then they mirror the plantings on the other.
Often referred to as the “Most Beautiful Room in Minnesota,” the Sunken Garden is momentarily a mess on tear down day, when volunteers and staff yank out the plants (saving some and composting others), and recycle the potting soil. Like all good things, even the flower show must come to an end.
By Camille LeFevre