Even if you’ve been going to the annual Colorado Garden & Home Show for all 55 years of its existence, the exhibit hall’s 400,000 square feet—around 650 exhibitors, 10 display gardens with 15,000 flowers and 2,000 truckloads of mulch, more than 100 extravagantly decorated cakes, and 50-plus seminars—can be daunting. We recommend allowing plenty of time for aimless wandering and stopping to smell the 75 varieties of annuals, perennials, and bulbs, but here are a few more things to put on your checklist:

  • Garden: This year’s 5,500-square-foot Entry Garden is inspired by the Denver Firefighters Museum, which arranged for three fire trucks, in addition to uniformed mannequins, fire hoses, and other historic paraphernalia, to serve as a backdrop for the blooms and water features. The kids will love “EO4” (Engine Number 4), a giant white truck built in 1953 that has been lovingly and impeccably restored. Check out the juried Flower Show for indoor arrangement inspiration.

(The Colorado Home & Garden Show is one of nine options on our list of 2015 Valentine’s Day date ideas, which range from “budget” to “splurge” and “traditional” to “adventurous”)

  • Exhibitor: It’s hard to choose just one, but we’re enamored with Colorado Barrel Designs‘ Adirondack chairs, ottomans, and side tables, all made from (you guessed it) used wine and whiskey barrels. Many of the barrels come from Western Slope wine country in Palisade. An estimated three-fourths or more of the companies at the show are local, so if you’ve been thinking about tackling a home improvement project—from a kitchen reno to a landscape redesign to an outdoor firepit to a new roof—this is the perfect place to feel out different vendors without driving all over town.
  • Seminar: In this Fido-crazed state, we’re going with Arapahoe Community College‘s “Creating Dog-Friendly Landscapes” sessions (Sunday, February 8, at 3 p.m. and Sunday, February 15, at 2 p.m.). But since the seminars are included in the price of admission, there’s no reason not to drop by whatever’s on the stage while you’re there. All of the offerings from the American Society of Interior Designers (“Five Secrets Designers Use to Accessorize,” “How to Confidently Mix Patterns,” “Outdoor Rooms: Extending Your Living Space Beyond Your Four Walls,” and more) are sure to inspire.
  • Sale: On Wednesday, blooms that are starting to fade will be changed out to keep the gardens fresh for the second half of the show. The bulbs, however, are still perfectly usable—and you can score them for $2 a pot (proceeds go to the Arvada Rotary). Wondering what happens at the end of the show? Around 7,000 flowers will be delivered by 100 Rotary Club volunteers and Boy Scouts to local nursing homes. That’s just one of many charitable aspects of the show, produced by the nonprofit Colorado Garden Foundation, which doles out horticulture-related grants and scholarships year-round.

The Colorado Garden & Home Show runs February 7 to 15 at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St. Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; kids 12 and under are free.

Follow copy chief Jessica LaRusso on Twitter at @JessLaRusso.