I enjoyed this year’s Flower Show and I’m glad I went, but … it was kind of blah.  I thought the entrance display was large and colorful but it didn’t have the punch of last year’s England theme with its Big Ben centerpiece.

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The theme was Articulture – Where art meets horticulture, and the entrance display was based on Calder’s mobiles.  Pretty but hasn’t art always been involved in most of horticulture?  OK, maybe not fields of corn stalks but how about wind blown fields of wheat, Whitman’s Seas of Grass?  I had missed the pre-show hype about Articulture.  I didn’t even think about Calder at the opening display and sure didn’t pick up the art theme elsewhere in the show.  I did pass one exhibit made up as an artist’s studio.  It caught my eye because it had an N. C. Wyeth painting on an easel as though a product of the exhibit’s artist.  I thought it was brave to have something of such value just out there in front of all of us.  Maybe it was a print.

I passed an exhibit plot of field brush…wild grasses and flowering weeds, all lifeless gray-brown.  It was as though it was an exhibit left over from last year’s show that hadn’t been watered all year.  It’s the kind of scene we’re trying to get beyond as winter approaches an end.  No beauty.  Art?  I dunno.  It reminded me of a major garden retailer’s exhibit years ago which featured a summer brush patch littered with trash including, as I recall, a toilet bowl and a truck tire.  Why bother exhibiting?


Here’s an interesting artistic scene; even got some flowers in it.  Said to have been inspired by the work of a Wassily Kandinsky, referred to as the “father of abstract art.”  It made me think of a futuristic solar system.

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The art theme was carried over into the live entertainment: two couples described as vertical dancers.  They pulled themselves halfway to the ceiling on cables and then performed various movements.  Kind of a Cirque Soleil.  Who said Ed Sullivan’s dead?  I was still looking for flowers.

They were there, of course.  The members’ specimens were lovely to look at.  Specialty societies, e.g. succulents, ferns, rock gardens, the Camden Children’s Garden etc.  But the Bonsai Society’s exhibit was an example of my letdown.  In years past this was a ceilinged, somewhat darkened space such that the plants lighted in their niches stood out.  Now it’s wide open and had only a few entries.  Where did they go?  Why did they go?

The biggest exhibit was that of PHS, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.  They had the usual information and cultural assistance booths but their space of things for sale was sprawling.  I wonder how commercial section exhibitors feel about having to compete with their landlord.  Here’s a scene at one of those exhibitors, City Planter (not a paid link; just nice people with nice product), offering plants, planters and garden accents.

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My daughter and I had lunch today and reminisced about shows past (she wasn’t impressed with the show, either).  We remember great plots of pine barrens wild azalea and birch saplings and other flora around dark, moss-edged quiet ponds;  we remember great florists’ displays of outdoor summer parties with tables set with flower extravaganzas;  we remember selected house rooms, decorated with plants and flowers;  we remember sweeping banks of spring flowers around back yard garden huts; we remember kitchen window boxes bursting with hanging petunias and dwarf marigolds.  They weren’t there.

  There were some eye-catching scenes here and there as in this case:

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Well, only 51 weeks to go.

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For a look at last year’s wonderful show, click here.