Why do people from all over northern Ohio drive to the I-X Center in Cleveland in February, pay $8 to park and up to $11 to get in?
Douglas Maurer knows.
"It's the promise of spring," he said.
Maurer's Avon-based family business, , is one of 19 landscaping companies that has a feature garden at this year's Great Big Home & Garden Expo, which runs through Feb. 13 at the I-X Center.
People want to see the flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs, and the greenery, Maurer said. It's a short escape from winter.
Another Avon landscaper with a feature garden is .
This year's theme for the feature gardens is movies. Each landscaper had to select a movie, and design a garden inspired by it.
Maurer knew since last fall what he wanted to do. Bob Stovicek had been his mentor in the landscaping business, and Maurer went down to see Stovicek's work at Schnormeier Gardens, a spectacular 50-acre private garden in Gambier, Ohio, that is only open for public viewing one week a year.
Maurer was instantly struck by the Japanese teahouse in the Waterfalls Garden. He came back home and began planning to build one for the Home & Garden Show.
Then the word came about the movies theme. So Maurer chose "Teahouse of the August Moon" as the theme, working in the teahouse, a Japanese-style zig-zag bridge over a water feature, and a luminous moon suspended above the garden.
The teahouse is as authentic as Maurer could make it, right down to its size. In Japan, he explained, teahouses are built to fit a certain number of rice straw floor mats. This one is 4 1/2 rice mats square, he said, a standard teahouse size.
Connelly Brothers chose "The Great Outdoors" as its movie theme. Not because the guys are huge John Candy fans, but because of the images the movie conjured up.
The company went with a rustic, natural setting. A waterfall and a covered enclosure featuring a stone bar and fireplace are two of the highlights.
"We wanted it to be something you'd see if you were hiking in a park, or riding on a biking trail," said Mike Walters, who, with Tim Connelly, came up with the theme.