ALONE AT THE FLOWER SHOW

The Philadelphia Flower Show was scheduled a week later this year, maybe to beat the seemingly annual Flower Show snow storm.  So, the storm also waited another week.  I had planned the week to include a visit on Tuesday.  Then, Stella moved in.  The powerful nor’easter gathered over the weekend and headed for the north-Atlantic coastal states with predictions of 12″ to 18″ and gusts to 50 mph.  So, a snow day?  Not so said Tuesday morning.  Once again we dodged a bullet.  Much of the storm had stayed to the west and it looked as though I could make it.  Indeed, there was very little traffic on the main highways and, PATCO, the high speed train to the city, was operating every twenty minutes.  There was room on the train for the three of us that boarded.

There’s a flower show this morning? Really?

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Here was the payoff; the display that greets one upon entering the exhibit hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  I and the other nine people seen here were privileged to be overwhelmed by the scene in relative solitude.  Never, never, never in my 60+ years of this show (no, not every year) have I ever felt so privileged.  Tough for PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) and the vendors but such a wonderful, uncrowded experience for us visitors.  When could you ever just walk around, looking up and not worrying about bumping in to someone?  Even when we used to attend the Friday night black tie, preview dinner party there were far more attendees than on this “storm” day.

No jostling necessary.

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As the morning evolved more brave people showed up.  It never became crowded but the tranquility was disturbed from time to time by the show music.  The scene below was the backdrop of the welcoming display.  This was taken an hour after I arrived so you can see it never became congested.

The show’s theme this year was Holland, a wonderful place that Barbara and I have enjoyed on a few occasions.  And, what can be wrong with blooming bulbs all over the place?  Before you play the video below, however, I’d tone down your speakers as the music is not Faure’s Pavanne.  The psychedelic scene, however, with dancing colors and a beat was captivating.

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Speaking of Holland and bulbs and Barbara, here’s a shot from one of those trips.  No, it wasn’t taken at the Flower Show; it was taken in Amsterdam thirteen years ago.  My photo journal; my choice of images.

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The lack of a crowd at the show made it a pleasure for a photographer.  No waiting to get a front row view; no apologizing for my tripod; and time to reflect on a scene.  It was fun.  Here are some of the show highlights.

There were hundreds of these (roses in lavender balls) hung from the ceiling.  Who ever had to do these and get them all together has gone home gibbering to Holland.

 

Here is a more traditional flower show scene.  Fountains and pools always work.  Just add some tulips for this year.

Another traditional kind of water scene featuring falls for fountains.  Some token tulips in the corner.

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This scene screamed Amsterdam as well as many other European cities where bicycles are a big part of life.  I remember hundreds of them parked in front of the train stations.

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 I look forward to next year’s snow day at the Flower Show.

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A FUN PHILADELPHIA FLOWER SHOW – 2016

I really enjoyed the show this year.  My attendance record goes waaaay back into the late 50’s … long before blogging but I have posted about five previous modern shows, all listed under “Flower Show” in the tab at the top of the page marked  “An Index To My Posts”.  Anyhow, the first impression is always important and I was pleased with it this year.

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The theme was the hundredth anniversary of the National Park System.  I’m a great fan of the Park Service and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the major parks and preserves and refuges.  I think the service does such a great job that I’ve said for years that I wished they ran the whole government.  When I saw this entrance of stone columns and beams I felt at home.

Well, it’s supposed to be a flower show but sometimes the flowers get lost in the spectacle; this year I thought that there were more than last year.  There were lots of scenes like this to enjoy.

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Under the theme of the national parks I thought everyone did a good job with their entries.  A few even included marshy and pine barrens scenes reminiscent of the work that people like Jud’s Nurseries used to do in the 60’s, with wild azaleas and struggling cedars.

I had a couple of quibbles.  Long time supporter E. P. Henry (hardscaping materials) has been replaced by Belgard, the largest hardscapes manufacturer in the nation.  They provided pavers and block work and stone for exhibitors and they also had constructed what they called a Chesapeake Bay garden with their materials.  It was nice but as a bay veteran it didn’t make me think of the Chesapeake.  In fact I asked one of the hosts where the crabs were.  I was politely humored.  Another quibble:  there was a giant decorated bell shape representing the Liberty Bell.  It was positioned in a pleasant resting area on the back wall of which was emblazoned … not words from the Declaration of Independence … rather, from the preamble of the Constitution, written thirteen years after that bell was rung so symbolically.  Oh, well.

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There are the whimsical exhibits, generally always enjoyable.  Here’s one made of some kind of conifer branches.

(Techy comment:  Judges, note that there is a catchlight in its eye.)

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And there are the dramatic scenes here and there.

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Here’s some more whimsy which I couldn’t leave alone.  This was part of the Waldor Orchid display, a long time orchid cultivator and PHS supporter.  The exhibit had a central pond surrounded by orchid plants.  In the pond there were three illuminated translucent buckets upside down in the water, each with a further lighted bucket on top with water bubbling out of them.  It was too difficult to get close enough to capture the bucket scene so I chose to do this impressionistic capture (made with a Sweet Spot Lensbaby).

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The so-called Horticourt is a place where members may exhibit their specimen plants in competition.  I think that the area was larger this year, and I enjoyed seeing all of the entries.

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I’ll close with some more whimsy.  These unusual plants were all over the place, adding romantic colors to displays.  They were of the Electricus family of plants.  (Please, no emails or phone calls, yes they were electric lights but pretty.)

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Finally, there was a creative exhibit representing the Redwood National Forest.  One could walk through one of the simulated redwoods and look up at the lovely artistic effort.  Fun!

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A NICE JOB, PHS.  ONLY A YEAR UNTIL THE NEXT ONE.

(BTW, and maybe just a rumor but I think that next year’s theme may be the Netherlands.  Wow!  Keukenhof Gardens!)

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THE FLOWER SHOW AND A SNOW DAY IN CONTRAST

I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Wednesday because of the snow storm forecast for Thursday. So did everyone else. I experienced crowds that I hadn’t seen there for a few years. My daughter, Sigrid, went on Thursday, and texted me a picture showing the floor almost empty. Oh well, had I gone I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the road struggle getting home from the high speed line.  Also, I got to enjoy (?) today’s snow storm and the contrast between the two days!

Here’s the opening scene that greeted show arrivals and it was pretty punchy.  A nice welcome to the show, it made me think of a flower-bedecked Rose Bowl Parade float.  The show theme was movies with an emphasis on the work of Disney and Pixar Studios, and I think that it was well executed and well carried throughout the show.  Full disclosure:  I’m a movie enthusiast, particularly with the work one sees on Turner Classic Movies.  Nevertheless I was impressed with the creativity shown in the exhibits.

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Conversely, here’s an opening scene for Thursday’s snow storm.  Yes, there’s a difference.

 

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Here was a large screen on which snippets of famous movies played from time to time with an imaginative sculpture of film and camera in front of it.  This scene:  Bogart saying goodbye to Bergman in the closing scenes of Casablanca.  “Here’s looking at you, kid.”  Made in 1942 I wonder how many who saw this could relate.  Not enough flash-bang to appeal to modern audiences.

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The movies theme was repeated in exhibits throughout the show floor.  I don’t know if these chandeliers were intentional but they certainly made me think of 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Not a pleasant thought as I always thought it was veeerry dumb from a science fiction point of view.  Richard Dreyfus shoveling dirt into his house, subconsciously trying to recreate Devils Tower?  Anyway, a space ship arrives there eventually and it was shaped something like this:

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Back to reality the next day, this was the kind of color (?) and drama that we had to deal with.  As I walked along here I kept stepping into troughs of slush,  the residue of yesterday’s temperatures in the 40’s and rain.

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One of the flower show exhibits could only be viewed through eye holes in the walls around the exhibit.  Inside were mystical sculptures illuminated with black light.  Pretty and interesting.

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The next day we also had sculptures, stark, cold, and not nearly as attractive but, perhaps, more dramatic.

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 Back on the show floor, Hollywood, the home of the stars was evoked with this handsome star on one of the commercial booths.  A booth for horticultural wares?  No, sorry, we’re selling being a middleman on your electric bills.  Anyhow, the star was striking and pretty.

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Well, were there any flowers at the flower show?  Of course there were.  Here’s a collection from the entrance exhibit which will also wind up in my place mat series.

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Not to be outdone, our snow day also included some flowers.

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THE FLOWER SHOW: A MIXED BOUQUET

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?

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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.

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PHILA’S FABULOUS FLOWER FEST

I wasn’t going to go this year.  Last year’s Hawaiian theme was not very interesting or attractive for me so I wasn’t going to go back.  Then I saw channel six’s preview and I thought that the show looked pretty exciting.  (Plus, my artist friend, Marilyn F., gave me an extra ticket.)  So, off to the Philadelphia Flower Show.   The theme was the “majestic beauty and creative genius of Great Britain,” and it was carried off brilliantly. 

The central theme display was a great creation involving Big Ben as its centerpiece.  What caught my eye, however, was the reflection of Big Ben in surrounding pools which also featured great lily pads.

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I spent a lot of time here shooting the reflections and discussing them with another photographer who had a couple of interns in tow.  Since the lily pads were reflecting a lot of light I showed the interns how to moderate that with a grad filter (graduated neutral density.)

In fact I had several pleasant conversations at the show with people who came up to me to discuss “taking pictures”  and the Flower Show.  The tripod effect?  One of them closed by telling me she would pray for me.  Not bad.

That central theme begged for many more shots.  Here’s another scene, part of the theme display, which incorporated the glass block with water flowing over it which I photographed at yet another show a few years ago.  I thought the glowing pots were nice.

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Speaking of other shows, I realized that I had been going to them for sixty years, beginning with walking from my fraternity house at Drexel to the old Civic Center in 1953.  Remember the breathtaking scene which unfolded before you as you rode the escalator down to the display floor?  Sixty years of bringing home pussy willows, gloxinia tubers, and the annual gardenia plant to feed the mealybugs!  I should get a PHS Merit Award.

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Another of the many striking displays was this one of classical Greek statuary and fountains.  The arresting feature?  The statue show here was alive.  As the gentle background music played and the fountains rose and fell she would periodically assume a new classical statue position.   Just beautiful and lovely.

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The light level was so low, boys and girls, that this had to be a six second exposure at f/14  (ISO 400.)   Notice: she didn’t move although you can see signs of others moving behind her.    Fun!

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Last year I complained about the lack of flowers at the show.  All those that were missing last year finally arrived this year.  Lots and lots of flowers.  The competitive specimen displays were all under a suggestion of canopy which improved the lighting and made one feel more as though one were in someone’s conservatory.  Among the other flowers to be seen were these English roses.

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Another interesting display area included several themed chambers elevated off of the floor and with circular openings so that one could almost put one’s head inside them.  Music was playing inside each chamber.  One, yellow and elongated, was playing “We All Live In A Yellow Submarine.”  Beatles, English, clever.  Here’s one of those chambers.

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All in all a very nice experience.  I spent four hours on the floor and I haven’t done that in years.  I had to carry my feet home in a bag. 

Please click here to see these and a few more images from the show.

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THE PHILADELPHIA FLOWER SHOW FOR 2012

This may be the shortest post I’ve done.  I didn’t think there was as much to shoot as in past years.  Lots and lots and lots of orchids.  I missed the great spring flowering gardens of other years; the wild azaleas blooming midst pineland scenes (do you remember Judd’s pine barrens scenes complete with decaying shack?); the great swaths of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths; the beds of perky annuals; the streams and fountains and woodsy gardens.   Oh, well.

Orchids or not I thought this setting was pretty.

The show entrance was awesome for its creativity and supposed evocation of Hawaii.  The idea, I guess, was that you were under the sea, surrounded on three sides and above by the moving water and darting fish.  Interesting,  but  it reminded me of that great Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is?”

Because of the motion involved I tried to capture the effect with video.

Oh, fortunately, there were lots of the usual beautiful specimen plants including some daffodils, some of the few at this “spring” show.

IT’S NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S FLOWER SHOW ANYMORE – 03/04/10

I manage to get to the Philadelphia Flower Show about every two years.  I haven’t missed many since my first in 1953 while going to Drexel, and for many years it was an all-family event to bring home the pussy willows and another gardenia plant to feed the mealy bugs at home.  But, by now I’m only up for it about every two years.  Heresy, but it’s kinda the same thing every year.  I don’t for a minute mean to denigrate the brilliance of the theme and exhibit designs but it all begins to blend together.  Anyway, the Post title?  Here she is

Brazilian Dancer

 The theme this year was International Gardens, and the entertainment was international as well.  This lady danced to the samba music of a guitar and electronic piano and she was lovely.  I just don’t remember scenes like this in 1953.  I think it’s a nice improvement.

There were many of the traditional, beautiful garden scenes comprising plants that can only bloom simultaneously at the Flower Show, brightened from the flashes of a bazillion point-and-shoots.  What do they do with all of those images?

 And there are always imaginative scenes, some candy for the imagination:

Lilies in ice blocks

And this beautiful panel with water flowing over it:

Water Panel

A few more images can be seen at my gallery.  Click here.