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Spring comes early at Niagara Floral Showhouse, thanks to garden party that is the Spring Show. The stars of the show are forced mixed bulbs that have come to represent spring—tulips and daffodils—as well as forced spring-blooming shrubs, such as rhododendrons bursting with big-pedaled flowers. “It’s a kaleidoscope of colours, essentially a mixed garden look that builds anticipation for the coming spring. It’s also ever-changing because bulbs are short-lived and require replacement all the time. From week to week the show is changed and re-imagined a bit,” explains Cornelius, explaining that the show runs through April with a brief interruption for the Easter Show. Just as poinsettias have come to symbolize Christmas and form the foundation of the Christmas Show, so too has Lilium longiflorum become synonymous with Easter and serves as the core of Niagara Floral Showhouse’s Easter Showcase. Better known as the Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum has long been associated with the spring holiday. According to legend, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, some of these beautiful flowers were suddenly found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went to pray the night before his crucifixion. It’s said that these flowers took seed where drops of Jesus’ sweat fell to the ground as he prayed, and suddenly sprouted when Jesus was resurrected. As a result, the flower adorns churches at Easter. Easter lilies also add serene beauty to the Niagara Greenhouses from Palm Sunday for three weeks through to Easter weekend. “It’s a beautiful display, with Easter lilies forming a giant cross in honour of the holiday,” explains Cornelius. “This used to be our most popular event, but times have changed and in the 30-years that I’ve been here I’ve see attendance drop a bit. People are busy this time of year and in general less religious, but it’s a shame because this really is a special tradition.” Rounding out the spring season is the May Hydrangea showcase. As one would expect, the display is dominated by dozens of rhododendrons bursting in whites, pinks and blues and the heady aroma of this shrub in full-bloom. Somewhat unconventional are the hydrangeas in massive hanging baskets measuring 5-feet across, on which the tropical birds roost and sing merrily. Adding vertical interest are masses of forced delphiniums and foxglove. “This is my favourite show. It just screams spring—soon, the gardens of Niagara Parks will be in full bloom—and is so unique,” she enthuses. Another spring attraction at Niagara Floral Showhouse is the pending bloom of Titan Arum, a giant among plants. A native of the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, Titan Arum is the largest flower in the world: the corm (essentially a tuber from which it grows) can weigh as much as 100kg (225 pounds), and the behemoth flower produced can reach up to 3 metres (10 feet) in height. The flower has to be large to produce enough scent to attract nighttime pollinators. Those expecting the pleasing aroma of a rose or lilac will be disappointed, however; Titan Arum smells like rotting flesh to attract pollinating flies and carrion beetles. Unlike most flowers that bloom annually, Titan Arum can take years upon years to bloom, and then only for a single day or so. Niagara Floral Showhouse has several of these showstoppers, and can boast of hosting the first and second blooms when two bloomed in April 2012. Two others are expected to bloom sometime in the spring of 2016 (progress and expected bloom dates will be updated on the Floral Showhouse blog). “It’s probably the most exciting botanical event in the world,” says Cornelius simply, “there’s nothing else like it.” Even as the weather outside is grey and dreary, wind chilling you to the bone and frost hanging off of every breath, Niagara Floral Showhouse remains bursting with vibrancy. Like an oasis of colour in a desert of snow and cold, it’s a welcome reprieve from the long winter months and through its ever-changing showcases offers a window into spectacular botanical worlds. The greenhouse casts an enchanting spell, compelling you to visit each month to see what’s blooming. TM

JUST THE FACTS: NIAGARA FLORAL SHOWHOUSE ADMISSION: $5.00 plus tax (13+years) $3.75 plus tax (children) Seasons passes are available so you can enjoy the changing displays all year long HOURS: 9:30 to 5 most days (last ticket sold 30 minutes before closing) LOCATION: 7145 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls PHONE: 905-353-1721 WEB: niagaraparks.com/niagara-falls-attractions/floral-showhouse.html TODAYMAGAZINE.CA 31

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Niagara - Winter/Spring 2016  

Niagara - Winter/Spring 2016