Wednesday was the official first day of spring, but it doesn’t exactly feel like it.

One way to get over it: Head out to the Fairgrounds Event Center and Expo Hall in Hamburg today through Sunday for Plantasia, the garden and landscape show. It’s here you’ll find flowers in bloom, water gardens in motion, landscape designs that inspire and local experts to talk about all this and more.

“Backyard Oasis” is this year’s theme. Can you dig it?

“Enjoy the gardens. It might be the only bit of spring you’ll see this weekend,” said Claire Brown of A Growing Business, a landscape design, installation and care business.

This is the 13th year for Plantasia, which is presented by the Western New York State Nursery & Landscape Association (

How to make the most of the show? Remember that, yes, while you can shop for all things garden-related, you also can learn.

“It’s an educational experience,” said Thomas Mitchell, a longtime horticulture teacher and landscaper.

First of all, it’s the chance to find some answers to your gardening problems, said Chris Zeisz, show chairman and owner of Snyder Ridge Landscaping.

People can ask questions about any problem in their yard – anything from destructive animals to problems with their soil. In fact, it’s a great way to get different opinions and advice from more than one expert under one roof.

In addition to one-on-one discussions, there is a full lineup of hourly seminars that are free with admission – with topics including insects, pruning, sustainability, vegetable gardening and more. (Plan your visit by looking at the seminar times and topics on the website,

“It’s also a good place to shop for a landscaper. You can get a sense of each company through the design of their space. It’s a representation of their ideas and capabilities,” said Brown earlier this week, while setting up a landscape exhibit.

Bring along the kids because there’s an interactive Children’s Discovery Garden with crafts, storytelling, face-painting and more.

It also helps to know some terms before you go. “Hardscaping,” for one. Hardscaping refers to walls, paths, fences, gates, pergolas, archways and such. You’ll also hear about – and meet – CNLPs, Certified Nursery & Landscape Professionals, who are trained and tested in a wide range of subjects. As the New York State Nursery & Landscape Association explains on its website: “In addition to their extensive on-the-job experience, a (CNLP) must pass a rigorous written examination that can only be passed with hard study and training.” CNLPs also are retrained and tested to keep their certification.

Another tip: Showgoers may also want to bring along a camera and a notebook to keep track of plants they like, since they will be labeled.

And you’ll get other ideas, including clever ways for repurposing old items for the garden – including planters and furniture crafted from old wooden pallets as well as garden markers made from wine corks or metal can bottoms hung on reshaped wire hangers. These can be found in the garden display created by students from the Niagara County Community College (NCCC) horticulture program and McKinley High School’s adult education program.

You’ll also come across creative ideas in other gardening categories, including landscape lighting using colored lights.

“I love to use color in landscape lighting, but very few people have the courage to let me,” said Phil Colarusso, of Luminated Landscapes.

“But it’s like trying a new appetizer. It can blow you away when done right,” he said.

Details: Plantasia, which opened Thursday, continues through Sunday at the Fairgrounds Event Center and Expo Hall, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available during show hours at the Event Center’s Box Office. General adult admission, $9; senior citizens, $6 (age 60 and older; no other discounts apply). Children age 12 and younger are free. See for lists of seminars, events, vendors and exhibitors, general admission discount coupon, directions and the Aurora Waldorf School’s schedule for the children’s garden. Parking is free. email: