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Spring is here…at least that’s what the calendar says. The weather, in Chicago at least, hasn’t quite caught up. But…yeah – it’s spring! And what better way to celebrate than with a trip to the Chicago Flower & Garden show. The show is sponsored by Mariano’s, my favorite grocery store in Chicago, so I was super excited to go. I mean, Mariano’s has some of the best seafood and bakery selections in Chicago – I love them. But, I digress. Back to the flowers.

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

This isn’t the official signage, but this installation inside the show caught my attention.

The show was a treat for the senses: the floral scents were subtle, they didn’t overwhelm you. The colors and all the beautiful plant and flower displays pulled me further and further into the exhibition hall.

Chicago Flower and Garden Show tulips

I was really into the tulips.

Beautlful hydrangeas

Beautiful hydrangeas

Chicago Flower and Garden Show tablescape

The table scapes designs were inspiring. Guess I need to host a dinner party, so I can try this.

The Chicago Flower & Garden Show also provided me with a lot of ideas for my fledgling deck garden.  I’m digging this idea of a ‘living wall’. I’ve got to make it happen.

Chicago Flower and Garden Show living wall

Hello, living wall! I can see a smaller version of this on my deck.

Now, if you think the Chicago Flower & Garden show is all display and product vendors, you’d be wrong. There were lots of seminars and demonstrations. The Mariano’s Garden Gourmet Stage had presentations, including Lorin Adolph’s Tastemaker segment. The people I met were really helpful, too. Speaking with other attendees really helped me understand how you’re supposed to care for and arrange fresh cut flowers. 

I used to always, always buy a little bouquet of flowers and I’ve gotten out of that habit. I figured this is a great time to start it up again! Since I was really into the tulips, I headed to my nearest Mariano’s florist picked up two dozen beauties so that I could try my hand at artfully arranging them. I don’t know if I succeeded. But, considering that, in the past, I literally just dumped the flowers in a vase, this is an improvement.

Mariano's florist tulips

My first attempt at ‘artful’ floral arrangements. Practice makes perfect, right?

I purchased two dozen tulips – with the buds still closed. Open buds look prettier, sure, but buying them with the buds closed ensure they’ll last longer, I learned. And don’t we all want our fresh flowers to last as long as possible? Another thing I learned? Cut about a 1/4 inch off the stems of your flowers, this will help them drink better. Make sure you cut on a slight angle. Again…it helps the flowers drink.

The size and shape of your vase matters. I think the vase I used was too narrow for the two dozen tulips + filler I used. I also think I used too much filler. But, practice makes perfect. And, it’s hard to make fresh flowers look ugly.

All in all, I’m happy I attended the show and I’m beyond excited that I’ve picked up my fresh flower habit again. I’m hoping that, by the time spring transitions into summer, I’ll be a flower arranging pro.

Want more information on the Chicago Flower & Garden Show? Click here! The show runs until March 23. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. The Mariano’s floriststs are super helpful and knowledgeable, and their floral departments are stocked full of beauties. That’s the great thing about Mariano’s – the store is full of awesome stuff, and going there is fun…it’s much more than a trip to a grocery store. Whenever I leave Mariano’s, I have a cart full of stuff (groceries + all the household and beauty items I need), and I’m usually full and buzzed (food and drink samples – YAY!). Plus, their free rewards card helps me save money. Winning!

Stay up to date on all things Mariano’s by following them on Twitter, and Pinterest.com, and by ‘liking’ them on Facebook.

And stay tuned to this blog, because I’ll definitely have more flower posts in the future.

Now, tell me: do you buy fresh flowers? Are you purposefully arrange them, or do you just toss them in a vase? Any arrangement/care tips to share?