Ringer Spy Roheryn went to the Cincinnati Flower Show last year. In the spirit of Sam Gamgee, their theme was “Fellowship of the Shire: A Celebration at Bag End.” Roheryn’s sent a report and some excellent photos of the event.

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It’s time once again for the Cincinnati Flower Show, going on now through Sunday! This year, one of the displays is entitled “A Wizard’s Garden,” though it is geared a bit more toward the Harry Portter crowd.  But last year’s show had some great Middle-earth themed displays that I’d love to tell you about!  I didn’t submit this report last year because at the time, I didn’t have a computer or scanner.  But I do now, so I hope my fellow Ringers still find it of interest! 
At the 2003 Cincinnati Flower Show in mid-April, the largest exibitor in the main Marquee Tent was local landscape/florist Delhi Garden Centers.  Their theme was “Fellowship of the Shire: A Celebration at Bag End.”  Their enchanting display had two full scale Hobbit holes, Bag End and #3 Bagshot Row, with lots of special touches that Tolkien fans would recognize.  Bilbo’s home was in a state of preparation for the Long Expected Party, with the “No Admittance” sign on the gate, and the “Happy Birthday Bilbo Baggins” banner around back, along with a cart of fireworks.  Gandalf’s staff was propped by the big green round door, and Bilbo’s pipe and books could be seen on a bench just outside.  It doesn’t show up that well in my pictures, but inside, you could make out the fireplace and mantlepiece with the ring case on it, a writing table with scrolls and quills, Sting in a scabbard and a mithril shirt draped over a chair.  Vegetation was themed, too, such as Brandywine Tomatoes and Firecracker Loosestrife.  Across the aisle was Sam & the Gaffer’s hobbit hole, surrounded, appropriately, by many different kinds of roses.  Rustic gardening tools were placed by the front entrance, and a sign nearby said #3 Bagshot Row.
My friend, Nancy, a delightful lady of hobbit-like stature, was kind enough to let me commandeer her disposable camera to take some photos of the exhibit.  As we were under a tent, most of these are a bit underexposed, but I think you can get the general idea of how charming this exhibit was.  The event judges must have agreed, as Delhi won the Royal Horticultural Society of England Silver Gilt Flora Medal for Best of Show in the Grand Marquee at the Cincinnati Flower Show for an unprecedented 5th time!  The web site for this year’s flower show features a picture of the Hobbit hole exhibit under their “Awards” section, and lists several other awards that it received last year.  [Winners here]
I am including a scan of the handout that they had for the Hobbit holes.  Even novice Tolkien fans will note certain misspellings, such as “Gandolf” and “Mithrail.”  Whether these are due to carelessness or a conscious attempt to avoid copyright infringement, one can only speculate.
I should also mention that several new varieties of plants are introduced at this show every year, and last year this included the “Hobbit jade plant,” also call the Gollum jade.  It is a succulent cactus that has unusual long skinny green leaves with odd tips that really do look like they could be Gollum’s fingers!  Here’s a web site I found that has some good pictures of it.
I have also sent along some information about a vendor booth at the flower show that caught my eye.  Aesthetic Metal Studio presented an array of garden art that looked as if it belonged in Lothlorien or Rivendell.  The artist is Chaz Kaiser of Batesville, Indiana.  With a long blonde braid and the well-defined muscles of a blacksmith, Chaz looks as if he would fit in very well with the Riders of Rohan, but he is at heart a true Elven smith.  A huge garden gate in the the graceful form of a beech tree (11′ x 5′ – stainless steel, copper, & bronze) dominated his modest booth.  Smaller fountains in the shapes of lilies and irises also abounded.  I pulled a few shots from his web site as illustrations of his craft, though they hardly do him justice.  Apparently there is a bit of Hobbit in Mister Kaiser, as his home/workshop is partially underground, built into the side of a hill!  To view a gallery with more samples of his work, check out his site.
And as our friends at West of the Moon remind us:  Your gardener … don’t leave home without him!
(Kathleen Myers, Cincinnati)