Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flower Wower

Before it is so long passed that it simply doesn't matter anymore, I thought I would get a few words in about my first ever trip to a flower show, this being the Philadelphia Flower Show, 2009. First, I must say that my wife and I had a nice time and we enjoyed seeing many of the flowers and plants. I enjoyed seeing the native plant displays, one of which mimicked a forest except that it was totally in bloom with white flowers. We also enjoyed our overnight in Philly, an easy town to get around and much to see on our two days that reached 70 degrees.

Of course, the flower show is a ritual celebration of winter's end and the coming of spring. However, when I thought, well that's not an interesting display or design, I had to remind myself, oh yeah, that's because its about getting all these flowers to bloom for this display, out of season and indoors. That is what it is about, folks. A brief note to the flower show policy wonks: don't allow boxwood in the displays anymore -it smells like urine, everywhere, all the time. Yuck.

Upon entry we encountered amongst the throngs of people a display of orchids, front and center (orchids somehow do prove one's horticultural bona fides, no?). Apparently these potted plants had been judged, and unaware of the criteria as I was, I had little understanding of good from best.

Beautiful as they were, many orchids struck me as similar to the spitting dinosaur from Jurassic Park 1. I could almost hear them spitting, "phhhlaaaaahh!"

Just across the way was this monster. Oh, boy -have you put the kids to bed?

The show had many specimens, ordinary and unusual. In the bulbs category, I found these:
Crocus Chrysanthus, "Goldilocks". I like how the blades of green become part of the floral display. Take that ordinary spring crocus!

There were many displays. This years "theme" was Italia or something like that, so Italian-inspired garden displays took up about a third of the floor space. There was even a display with opera singing going on. The largest display, photo below showing maybe a third of the entire display, was fully realized with tall flowering trees, shrubs and perennials.

Of course, this being Italy and all, there were many displays with fountains, like this one where a man is spitting on a babe.

Some displays stood out by simply not following the theme, like this Irish fantasy:

I enjoy the displays that create a convincing illusion of the real the same way that I enjoy the dioramas at the Natural History Museum.

This display of a landscape at night won a prize for best outdoor lighting design. May I ask, is this possible? I think it was the only display concentrating on outdoor lighting. The colors changed: blue, purple, green, red, yellow, blue, purple, green, red, yellow, blue...

There were displays that were simply in a category all their own, like this one. Daffs in glass bottles, over fluorescent lighting.

Some were informative and dry, like this one revealing the "how we do it" of rooftop sedum.
Get yours today!

The Italian-themed displays briefly gave way to the fashion-themed. Maybe the most photographed display of all, the floral fashion shoe collection.

Lord help us, but this tree attracted a lot of attention. Was it dead, then painted? Killed, then painted? Colorful as it was, I just didn't see the attraction. I think the entire display, which had forced bulbs, cactus and succulents, and evergreen shrubs won a prize for most unusual design concept.

Maybe its because I had never been to a flower show, or maybe its my overcritical nature, or is it the art-school arrogance, or maybe my NYC snobbery, or my unwillingness to simply let go, or could it be my fear of death, but I do not see myself returning to the Philadelphia Flower Show for awhile.

Thanks to Ellen Spector Platt at Garden Bytes for awarding me these tickets. Despite my critique, I enjoyed the chance to get out of town and see the show (and on my birthday no less).


  1. holy cow! are flower shows always so fantastical? I admit though, I enjoyed the male statue with putti -- Adrienne

  2. Wow...eeeeeeeugh. That's...somethin'.


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