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North Hills Monthly

Visitors Find Ideas, Innovative Products at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show

Feb 27, 2015 06:38PM ● By Jennifer Monahan
By Jennifer Monahan

Cutting-edge technology for your home, Pittsburgh-specific gardening advice and expert antique appraisals are just a few of the features slated for the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, which will be held March 6–15 at the Convention Center downtown.

With a little—scratch that—a lot of something for everyone, the 2015 show looks to be the most exciting in its 34-year history. “People come to see products and services and to find out what’s new,” said the show’s executive director, John DeSantis. “It’s a lot of fun. The hard part, if anything, is that the show only lasts 10 days.”

Among the highlights for 2015 is the Dream Home Innovation Center. DeSantis said that he has been trying to put this showcase together for the last several years, and the stars aligned when he was able to bring in Boyce Thompson, the retired editorial director of Builder magazine and building industry guru who literally wrote the book, The New, New Home on modern home innovations. Thompson whittled a list of thousands of potential items down to the ‘Top 10 Life-Changing New Products’ exhibit that will be featured at the Innovation Center.

DeSantis noted that the selection criteria had to go beyond ‘cool gadgets’ to focus on innovations that actually affect people’s lives—similar to what microwaves did for home cooks in the 1980s. Thompson will offer demonstrations of the 14 (turns out 10 was too short a list) items featured on the new products stage on each day of the show.

Don Engebretson, aka The Renegade Gardener, returns as a beloved headliner. His presentation, ‘Really Cool Plants for Pittsburgh Gardeners,’ is a new feature this year. “Don is a big deal…he is so knowledgeable. He doesn’t do that many shows anymore, but he comes to Pittsburgh every year for all 10 days because he loves the people he meets here,” said DeSantis. “They stay in touch, and even bring him flowers from their gardens.”

Because Engebretson is such a well-respected authority, he has unique access to the latest plants. When a new plant variety comes around that will do well in the Pittsburgh climate, he contacts the companies and brings samples especially for the show. “Gardeners in Pittsburgh are getting all of this specialized knowledge and first access to the newest plants from one of the best experts in the field,” said DeSantis.

Another speaker expected to draw a crowd is ‘Dr. Lori’ Verderame, antiques appraiser on Discovery’s Auction Kings. Showgoers are invited to bring one item for a free appraisal. DeSantis praised Dr. Lori’s entertaining style, which he described as “a heck of a show, for standing room only crowds.”

DeSantis has a few tips for those who plan to attend. “People can come even on a weekend and not feel like they’re packed in like sardines,” he said, adding that attendees need to leave sufficient time to browse. “You realize it’s big, but not how big. If you walk every aisle of the show just one time, that’s six miles of walking. And there are exhibits along every inch of those six miles.”

The event offers ample, inexpensive parking for those who utilize the free shuttles running all day from Heinz Field to the Convention Center, plus a Children’s Village to draw in younger participants. With over 1,700 exhibits covering more than 10 acres, the 2015 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show is not only the largest in the event’s history, but promises to be the most exciting yet. For more information, visit