CABBAGES & KINGS

Flora

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society held it annual Flower Show last week in the Mechanics Building in Boston. By Friday, a few of the flowers were drooping a bit, but most of the show was intact. On our way in we stopped to read a notice entitled "License of Concert or Entertainment on the Lord's Day" which was posted near the entrance, and we discovered that the Flower Show "must not be advertised by pictorial posters or placards of an obscene nature" and further, that no person attending could "wear a head covering which obstructs the view of another spectator." Since it was not Sunday and as we are not in the habit of wearing hats, this did not alarm us particularly, and we went on in.

Inside we found the building crowded with green-house nurtured exhibits set up by the local garden clubs or by plant and tree nurseries. There were corridors lined with forsythia, a pathway crowded by tulips, and long banks of orchids, all of them impossibly weedless and neat. The show had a pleasant and phony air of spring about it, as if it were a sudden incarnation of illustrations from a seed catalogue. The spring feeling was partly due to the chirps and warblings which permeated one part of building. We found that these were emanating from a booth occupied by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, where a saleslady was giving a sample playing of some bird song records. They were on vinylite and sounded authentic. Besides the bird records, the Audubon Society was selling books on birds, paper weights in the from of birds, bird boxes, wallpaper with birds on it, and an album of recorded frog croaks entitled "Voices of the Night."

We next wandered into the Grand Hall, which looked rather like the concourse of an old-fashioned railroad station except for a balcony around three sides and a built-in organ. There were large exhibits featuring New England buildings and grounds of different epochs ranged along the walls. An entire grist mill had been imported from somewhere in Connecticut: it had a turning water wheel and a rustic sign which read "Terms Cash." People occasionally, we were told, got the idea it was a wishing well and tossed coins into the water under the wheel. Across from the mill, and separated from it by a piece of tumbling New England hillside, was a blacksmith shop. Once in a while a short man in an apron would come and hammer resonantly on the anvil; then he would go back across the hall to continue his conversation with the flower girl. On the lawn in front of the shop, a Radcliffe freshman was selling horse shoes for the benefit of the Children's Hospital.

We moved on to other parts of the building, leaving the organ playing something out of "Finlaudia," and found ourselves in the midst of booths and displays for an incredible number of organizations, herbaceous or otherwise. Besides the purveyors of gardening supplies, who were selling everything from tractors to Hokinsonesque sun hats, there were representatives from the New England Wild Flower Preservation Society, the Blood Drive, the American Gourd Society, a company selling aluminum window frames, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. And it being St. Patrick's day, we were pleased to see that someone had included a model of an Irish Thatched Cottage.