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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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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