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Wellfield Botanic Gardens kickoff season with Spring Marketplace

Focus shifts to gardens rather than music for botanic gardens' annual event.

Posted on May 4, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 4, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

ELKHART — The event is no longer called Tulips and Tunes, but the flowers were certainly in bloom for Wellfield Botanic Gardens’ kickoff event Saturday, May 4.

The warm and sunny afternoon attracted a large crowd to the gardens’ Spring Marketplace, where revelers enjoyed vendors, food and entertainment.

“I haven’t got a count of numbers but there seems to be a lovely steady flow through,” said Wellfield board member and Spring Marketplace chairwoman Emma Wynn. She said Wellfield hoped to have 1,500 to 2,000 people attend by the end of the afternoon.

The gardens’ first major event of the season was renamed Spring Marketplace this year. It had been called Tulips and Tunes, but the name change helped Wellfield to re-brand the event.

Wynn said this year’s event differed in its focus.

“We really wanted to change it into a garden show,” Wynn said, “so much more of a marketplace set in among the beautiful flowers with music as the background rather than make the music the foreground.”

“We realized last year you cannot count on tulips being in flower on the first weekend in May, even though all 5,000 of ours probably are in flower today,” she added.

As people wound their way through the gardens, a variety of 35 vendors lined their path, some selling gardening supplies while others were more informational.

Several educational opportunities were also available. A tent was set up for seminars on topics ranging from lawn care to designing gardens, and the ETHOS Science 2 Go bus offered hands-on activities for children.

Wynn stated that the gardens were more deliberate in advertising the activities for children than in the past to highlight the event’s family-friendly atmosphere.

John Demaegd of Michiana Bonsai Study set up his tent to educate those in attendance on caring for bonsai and to raise awareness for the group.

Demaegd said attendance seemed good and he believed the great weather was instrumental in the success of the event.

“I think people (here) are pretty much garden people because it’s touted as a garden walk, or a garden sale, so interest has been good,” he said.

Demaegd said he wasn’t necessarily selling any of his bonsai, but wanted to let people know that raising a bonsai is not as daunting as some might think.

Taryl Yoder of Elkhart and her mother, Anita Hoffman-Yoder of Goshen, had visited the garden many times before but were experiencing the gardens’ season-opening event for the first time.

“We had heard about this and thought it would be a good day to come,” Yoder said. “Mom’s been looking at the different plants and I’ve been enjoying the scenery.”

“We love it,” Hoffman-Yoder added.

Aside from frequent patrons of the gardens, Wynn said there were a number of new faces that attended the Spring Marketplace.

“We’re getting people who didn’t even know the gardens were here, and that was our aim,” she said.

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