By Mahreen Khan and Giselle Miranda
Hicks Nurseries opened the doors to its 27th annual Flower and Garden Show on March 9 in Westbury, encouraging locals to explore five garden displays through April 2.
Each of the displays at this year’s exhibit showcase a unique take on a “living dreams” theme, one designed to reignite a passion for gardening, keep customers up to date with the latest and most popular gardening plants and products and offer up to 20 interactive seminars. Visitors have described the garden exhibit as a surreal and magical experience.
“From the hustle and bustle, from even just coming off Jericho [Turnpike] to [coming into Hicks Nurseries], it’s a complete transition from that quick pace,” gardener and Baldwin resident, Lee Grate, said. “You just kind of meander and walk around here and it’s just very calm.”
The intricate displays bring in thousands of local guests annually, with a total of 75,000 viewers visiting in the past two years alone. The “Enchanted Castle Garden” showcases an elaborate castle with live chicks and a carefully-crafted floral Rapunzel doll gazing over the courtyard. The “Under the Sea Garden” presents flowing water and drifting seaweed, as well as a human-sized mermaid creation.
“I love the ‘Under the Sea’ [display]; I think that [it] is really neat and I love the fairytale,” insurance investigator and Greenlawn resident Elizabeth Czelowalnik, said. “Just the idea and creativity is great. I love the smell [when] you walk in, just the imagination and fantasy. I can sit here right now and look at this all day,” she said.
The flower show’s educational seminars are open to children and adults, ranging in price, with some being free of charge.
“Customers call it ‘the Hicks fix,’” Hicks Nurseries’ marketing and education specialist, Karen Musgrave CNLP, said. “We hold our seminars in the Henry Hicks Learning Center. We have members of our staff give seminars, and we have people from local botanical gardens come in – all different garden experts.”
The indoor exhibition, free and open to the public, takes months of planning by the Hicks staff and outside vendors. It brings together locals from the community of Westbury and beyond – many of whom are eager to provide their feedback for next year’s show.
Long Island supports a rich diversity of plants and has the greatest concentration of rare plants in New York, according to the Long Island Botanical Society. According to the organization, the island has large areas of high-quality habitat, which support many diverse plant communities. However, Long Island has irretrievably lost some of its botanical heritage.
With New York’s rising threat of climate change, global warming experts like
Jessica Gurevitch and Matthew I. Palmer are concerned about the viability of the state’s vegetation.
“The effects of global climate change for gardeners on Long Island are mixed,” Stony Brook University Ecology & Evolution Professor Jessica Gurevitch, Ph.D., said. “Climate zones are shifting and we can grow things that come from more southern places, that have tolerances of warmer weather and that are less tolerant of cold weather.”
Gurevitch said that an intensely warm climate is a significant stressor on plant life, arguing that high temperatures have an impact on Long Island’s natural environment. Protecting the land and water needs to be prioritized, she said, to minimize the challenges gardeners encounter.
“Climate change is likely to have far-reaching effects on both natural and human communities,” Matthew I. Palmer, Ph.D., senior lecturer in the department of ecology, evolution and environmental biology at Columbia University, said “If we do not invest in finding solutions or planning to mitigate this harm, the overall costs to society will be much higher.”
While Hicks Nurseries plans to continue supporting its local community and gardeners, despite these impending threats – Musgrave is firm in her belief that plants will always need to be here to grow our food, clean our air and serve as a natural form of everlasting beauty.