Phipps unveils its flowery secrets

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If ever there was a book that begged to be the theme of a flower show, Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic tale "The Secret Garden" is it. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has taken that theme and turned its spring show into a "wealth of visual surprises and sweet scents." The display, designed by Terra Design Studios, is one of the most anticipated of the year. It opens today and continues through April 7.

Visitors will be entranced by Mrs. Sowerby's Cottage Garden; Archibald Craven's Topiary Court, Ben Weatherstaff's Kitchen Garden and the Secret Garden Alcove, all filled to the brim with spring blooms. Thousands of bulbs, including tulips, daffodils, delphiniums, hyacinths, lilies, snapdragons and muscari, are featured in the plantings. Other highlights include topiaries, a formal Victorian garden, and a wild garden featuring edible and seasonal woodland plants.

Bulbs are chosen for their ability to be forced into bloom, and many of the spent bulbs, which are changed out during the duration of the show, are offered for sale on March 23, 30, April 6 and 13 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Outdoor Garden. Planting instructions will be included. In particular, daffodils, lilies, muscari and hyacinth will thrive in home gardens. Two pots will sell for $5.

Show hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. Fridays. Admission is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $11 for children (ages 2-18).

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