By Carol McCracken (Post # 408)
Over the weekend, Portland Yacht Services was still in hybernation, but all around the boats were signs of spring – or at least very good imitations of it. That’s because the 18 exhibitors in the annual Portland Flower Show were preparing their plots for the flowers and shrubs that will be arriving all week – some of them Wednesday morning. Just in time for the preview party on Wednesday evening from 6 – 9 pm.
Jeff O’Donal, owner of O’Donal’s, Gorham, was finishing his late lunch in the warm sunshine when MHN.com spotted him. Well-known for his “woody plants” in which hydrangeas are included, O’Donal said he’s including a relatively new hydrangea – “Quickfire” in this year’s exhibit. It’s different because it blooms much earlier in the season and it turns pink before the other hydrangeas even bloom. (Normally, they turn white and then turn pink.)
Also included in this year’s exhibit, “Hobbit House” is a thirty year old sculptured white pine topiary. It belongs to his father, Royce, from whom O’Donal bought the family business a few years ago. Royce bought the nursery back in 1960 from Lena Jackson, who was then a widow. O’Donal, the son is 53 years old and said he has no regrets taking over the family business, although he was not the oldest of his five siblings. Neither of his two daughters seems interested in the family business.
Like many other exhibitors at the show, much of the talk was about the unusually warm end of winter weather the area is enjoying right now. “It’s made this show a whole lot easier and less expensive for all of us, O’Donal said. He’d been eating his lunch on the tailgate of a truck. “We can haul our plants over in an open truck rather than a van or panel truck,” he said. “We didn’t have any daytime heating expenses for our greenhouses this year to force the flowers into bloom for the show. That makes it a lot less expensive,” O’Donal added. (See above photo of O’Donal.)
O’Donal is a long-time exhibitor at the Portland Flower Show. Last year he won four awards, including Best in Show. “Entering this show gives us a lot of exposure. It’s great advertising. Anyone who buys a ticket to attend is really interested in what we have to offer them,” O’Donal said. Then he went back to his “Hobbit House.” His company partnered with Landmarc’s Inc. who did all the stone work on the House.
The Portland Flower Show runs from March 11 – 14, 2010 at The Portland Co. Complex, 58 Fore Street, (207) 775-4403. The opening night preview party is sponsored by Maine Home+Design and is on Wednesday, March 10 from 6 pm – 9 pm. Tickets at the door for this event cost $40. Otherwise, general admission at the door costs $15. per person and children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. Please visit www.portlandcompany.com/flower.