Now Blooming: The Summer Flower Show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Pushing carts full of flowering plants through the crowds at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory has always been part of the process of building each of the five seasonal flower shows at Como. “It always adds a little time to the process, because visitors are curious about what we’re doing, and it’s fun to talk to the public about how we put these shows together,” says horticulturist Ariel Dressler.

But this season, as Como adapted to the state’s stay-at-home orders, Dressler was mostly on her own in the Sunken Garden, preparing for the launch of the summer flower show, the longest-running display in Como’s horticultural calendar.

“There’s usually so much action and camaraderie putting these shows together, that the quiet has been kind of eerie,” she says, adding that she’s been glad for the company of occasional pedestrians, pressing their noses to the glass outside of the Sunken Garden. “It has been wonderful to see visitors peeking through the windows, watching and noticing what’s going on inside.

The Summer Flower show Dressler designed is a study in primary colors. Cha Cha Cherry Penstemon, Gartenmeister fuschia, and black cherry petunias provide splashes of deep reds, while Begonias and Digitalis offer up lemony and buttery yellows. “There’s also a variety of Salvia called ‘Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes’ that’s very exciting because it’s so rare to see a really true blue color,” says Dressler. The  symphony of blue hues also includes the “Velvet Elvis” Plectranthrus, Laguna Sky Blue Lobelia, and Marino Blue Heliotrope.

“When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily.” -Buddha

The Summer Flower Show will include several plant and flower change ups between now and October 4, when it will end its run. “We can’t predict when it will be safe to reopen,” says Dressler, “but our goal is to be ready right away with a really beautiful show.”

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