Sunday, March 6, 2011

2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show

Floral Display inspired by Hector Guimard Paris Metro entrance
The 180th something Flower Show opened to the public today. The theme this year: Springtime in Paris. Yes I give it this dubious title as we don't really know which one this is or if we do we don't focus on its longevity - a shame! A shame because in this world of copy cats this is the most original thing in Philadelphia since the Declaration of Independence from the British. Yesterday I spent the day judging the showcase exhibits and seeing friends that I see once a year. The who's who of the plant world and botanic gardens are involved in the judging of this hallowed event. Besides them there are local designers and other personalities that are enlisted in the event.

I got my start as a judge doing garden clubs and minor categories about a dozen years ago. One day I wondered if I would ever judge anything more important and I mentioned it to a dear friend. The next year I was judging major exhibits. Since then I have been judging chair of the Landscape Division and when the new category "Showcase" was developed two years ago I was its first chair. Well, regardless of rank or category, I would not miss it for the world. I am in my element seeing extraordinary designers test their metal with creative designs and still trying to make a buck. Yes, this is a commercial endeavour for many of the participants. The exhibits cost money and must make a return for the many companies that use it to advertise their expertise. It is not just for art. In these economic times, I appreciate that even more. With any luck next year, I will be asked to return as judge. If I am, I will be coming up from Florida to visit my friends and hopefully see an even larger event if the show expands into the enlarged convention center. Regardless, enjoy the images and if you can, go see it for yourself, it is worth it!

The show centers its display on a central event put on by the Pennsylvania Horticultural society. Top notch florists test their mettle with wonderfully creative arrangement like this floral maze done in roses.
A simple wedding in Notre Dame
A different take on the "Tour the France. "This wagon was filled to capacity with all things French: Fashion to Bordeaux.

Clever designers created typical clipped tree hedges seen throughout France. However this one was a hydroponics attempt with the trunks serving as the delivery system for water and nutrients to the ferns, grasses, sedums and other clever plantings that represented the tree canopy. A marvelous display.

Floral massings of banksias in one of the many florist display.

Take a guess, I don't know what these were either, but they were beautiful, filled with orchids and topped with carnations.

On a more traditional note these carousel animals surrounded the central display which was a stage and a carousel. Most of the animals were throughout the area. Here a butterfly in the background and a wondrous Ostrich.

Yet one more: a peacock.

More frivolous flower arrangements. Truly stunning work of plant material.

Even a dearly departed Gardener's specialty shop had a great and creative display. Now associated with Target, Smith and Hawken produces a line of plain items for Target featured at their stores while still offering their renown products through a catalogue house within the Target website. I am going to check it out. I remember years ago when there was only one Smith Hawken in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco and I made a pilgrimage there to then mythical store. Well, their success eventually imploded and I guess they are trying to revive it again.

The Flower show was very Frrrench (pronounced with an accent). This Salon was exquisite even if the photograph does not do it justice. Here flowers, dried and fresh were integrated and coordinated to match with tapestry fabrics to create an rich effect of a Turn-of-the-Century Salon.

On a more modernistic feel this water garden with blue columns made reference to the 1927 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs from which we now have the term Art-Deco. For its effort this exhibit was awarded Best-in-Show.
Another exhibit played off the plantings off a water feature of paintings reminiscent of Monet.

Nothing could be about Paris and not include the Eiffel Tower. The central feature reproduced a fairly good facsimile of the lower tier of the tower that could be seen from everywhere. Truly very Ooh La La! Happy Gardening!


  1. Wow, I could practically smell the flowers! Seeing your gorgeous photos was great - but still second best to having the amazing personal tour you gave me last year.
    It's good to know this will be an event which will bring you back to Philadelphia every year. Hooray for that!

  2. Awesome it is really a great work done by you people thanks for giving us information. I think it is a great show .