A detail from the Fantasy Garden at the Hicks flower...

A detail from the Fantasy Garden at the Hicks flower show in Westbury on March 3. Credit: Linda Rosier

Literature is in full flower this month at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury.

At “A Novel Approach,” Hicks’ 33rd annual flower and garden show running  from March 9 to 26, you can tour eight display gardens — all designed on themes inspired by a variety of book genres, from romance to science fiction to classics of the Old West.

Whether you’re seeking fresh tropes for your own garden, want something exotic for your potted plant shelf, or simply seek Instagram likes amid the photogenic blooms, there’s much to admire, photograph and purchase spread out under Hicks’ newly enlarged 20,000-square-foot greenhouse.

“The show is really meant to inspire people to get excited about gardens and about spring,” says Ken Muellers, senior landscape designer. Muellers oversaw creation of literary landscapes bursting with color, drama and 3,000 plants representing 350 varieties.

Seeding ideas for an early spring planting season kickoff has spurred avid gardeners Leslie and Michael Anesta, both 69, of Northport, to attend the show for decades.

“It’s like a taste of spring,” Leslie says of the show, where she enjoys finding the latest in flowering plants. She adds, “There’s always something new to marvel at and take home.”

These buds tell a story

Kelly Bowe, left, and Donna Meyer, of the decorations team,...

Kelly Bowe, left, and Donna Meyer, of the decorations team, look over the work that was done on the Romance Novel garden at the Hicks flower show in Westbury on March 3. Credit: Linda Rosier

Planning began almost a year ago for Hicks' landscape design team, which uses horticultural techniques to “force” buds open in time for “a magnificent display of inspirational spring gardens in full bloom,” Muellers says.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is an Instagrammable 8-by-8-foot replica of a book — the kind you find on library shelves, not Kindle. From there, strike out to your genre and garden of choice. Follow one path and you’ll be immersed in a Fantasy Garden, faced on one side by a Willy Wonka-esque chocolate waterfall inspired by Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and, on the other, a florally interpreted Mad Hatter’s party from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

The plot — and the vegetation — thickens a few steps away in the Time Travel/Prehistoric Garden, which puts a dinosaur and a miniature, smoke-spewing volcano in Jules Verne’s imaginary world. Then mosey over to a Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour-inspired Western Adventure Garden spread around a Hollywood-style one-horse town facade.

Part of the Children’s Stories garden at the Hicks flower...

Part of the Children’s Stories garden at the Hicks flower show in Westbury on March 3. Credit: Linda Rosier

Landscape designer Dean Yeh, 29, of Albertson, conceived the western panorama. Yeh says he drew from his own road trips to Arizona, Utah and Colorado to mimic a desert landscape of “authentic western plants such as the barrel and prickly pear cactus and the century plant, a succulent that looks like a giant aloe.”

If your taste runs to romantic fiction, go from neighs to sighs with a stroll to the Romance Garden. It’s actually two separate beds connected by an arch entwined with wisteria, bittersweet and grapevines. Muellers says separate plots suggest the “long-distance love affair” between a woman dubbed Juliana, whose pink blooms contrast with the purple flowers of her lover, Francois’, flower bed.

Family fun for all

Want to dig up Long Island history along with all that flowery fiction? There’s also a garden celebrating Hicks' 170th anniversary, with historic photos chronicling the nursery’s rise from its 1853 roots.

And that’s not all, with gardens also dedicated to mystery stories, children’s lit and space travel — the latter featuring basketball-sized planets strung above otherworldly pitcher plants, agaves and tillandsia air plants.

Go on a scavenger hunt — details and activity lists given out at the show — or take home a growing thing for the den or backyard deck, with discounts, coupons and pocketbook-friendly options available.

“During the show, for $7 you can bring home potted tulips, and we always have a special on pansies, the first flower of spring,” says Eleni Roselli, director of marketing.

“A Novel Approach,” 33rd Annual Flower & Garden Show

WHEN | WHERE Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily through March 26, Hicks Nurseries, 100 Jericho Tpke., Westbury


INFO 516-334-0066, hicksnurseries.com

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