Tag Archives: Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show – “A sea of dead plants”

Yesterday I referenced an exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show that grabbed my attention more than any other and also appeared to be the most polarizing exhibit at the show. I made it a point to carefully listen to as many visitors’ comments as possible as they approached this controversial display. The comments ranged from “It’s an ugly mess of weeds” to “It’s a sea of dead plants” to “It’s anti-color” to “I totally get it”. Personally, the first thing I said upon seeing it was “Kind of looks like my backyard right now”.

Guess I should explain …

The display, created by Scape Design, is based on the following painting:  

Crazy you say? Allow me to continue.

This painting, created by famed artist Albert Diato, was discovered within the private collection of Prince Albert of Monaco and is the inspiration for the garden display.

The water-filled silver/gray bowl represents the artist’s ceramic works and is intended to represent the bright Mediterranean light:

The curved orange block in the painting is interpreted through the use of a “cob wall” that represents the artists time spent in Afghanistan:

And the black circle in Diato’s painting is imagined as garden seating; a burnt black log that is intended to not be inviting, inspired by the artist’s desire to work in solitaire:  

After reading this information and absorbing it, I was fascinated by the display. The interpretation by the designer is way cool and such a departure from all of the other color filled exhibits at the show. I dig the anti-color (although brown is a color last I checked).

Of course as much as I loved the “artistry”, I was most fascinated by the use of the plants. The exhibit utilized all sorts of ornamental grasses (mostly Panicum aka Switch Grass), Rudbeckia and other “spent” plants highlighted by their seed heads:

Not what you expect to see at a Flower Show, eh? As I mentioned previously, it sort of looks like my own late winter garden right now. Beautiful in its own way and a really cool interpretation by the designer.

I kid you not, I spent a good hour lingering near this display just to enjoy the visitors’ reactions. Once the exhibit comes into view, it looks like this:

It immediately set people back and evoked such strong opinions. My biggest regret is that I didn’t personally interview these people so I could share their exact thoughts with you.

So what do you think?

Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

For the fifth consecutive year, I made it out to the Philadelphia Flower Show and as expected, it didn’t disappoint. There was a threat of snow in the air as I set out this morning, but if you’re an integral part of the media like me, you cannot let that stand in the way. There was a story to be reported on and I needed to deliver.

This year’s theme is ARTiculture, “where art meets horticulture”. This theme jumps out at you as soon as you enter the main hall, and in a good way. Not in a “please tone it down I’m on sensory overload” way. Obviously art and horticulture go hand in hand and to the surprise of no one, the designers played off of that interplay to perfection.

Upon entering the garden display zone, I followed my usual routine. Camera in hand and extremely business-like; I am a professional photographer and I am here to work. There are photos to be taken and all must get out of my way.

This is where it helps to be 6 foot 4. I have the luxury of being able to take photos without much of a concern as to who is around me. There is little competition and I really can’t be defeated. I even considered renting myself out for a small fee (note to self for next year).

After about an hour of shooting from every possible angle, the camera goes away and I grab myself an $8 beer (Yards IPA) and try to actually enjoy the gardens without thinking about how to photograph them. I’ll then stroll down to the vendors/booths to check out potential purchases and the latest gimmicks.

It was a mad house near the vendors this year so the stroll didn’t last very long. And I didn’t buy a thing. Instead, I grabbed myself a sandwich, sat down for a bit and regrouped. That only lasted for five minutes and I was up with the camera in tow yet again. I couldn’t deny that I the photo taking more than anything else.

So without further ado, I give you the best of my pics from the show …                     

Actually before we get to that, I have a few observations on the crowd. Specifically, three different “types” of visitors I witnessed today and have witnessed at each and every other show to date:

Husband/boyfriend wearing an Eagles jersey telling the world it wasn’t his idea to go to the show – this was as entertaining to watch as the show itself. As the wife/girlfriend walked from display to display, wine in hand, the husband/boyfriend didn’t hide his disdain for being there and constantly checked his phone with a courtesy glance thrown at the flowers every minute or so.

Husband/boyfriend pretending to be interested with the hopes of scoring points with their significant other – this was also super entertaining and I appreciated the effort, even though I saw right through them.

Models demanding to have themselves photographed in front of each and every display – true story, I witnessed a woman, the width of a Twix bar, ask her photographer boyfriend/gofer if he can make sure she looks “as thin as possible” in a particular shot. I threw her a sandwich and walked away.

Back to the photos (with a few random comments thrown in) …

Love me an all conifer display:

The stepping stones are covered in newspaper articles from the New York Times:

The Subaru display was my personal favorite:

Watching Miriam Goldberger, author of Taming Wildflowers and Jerry Fritz in a container gardening extravaganza: 

Yes, dead grasses … finally a display I can personally relate to:

The Fabulous Beekman Boys signing books:

I left out one display that requires its own post in the next few days. It was by far the most polarizing display at the show and I spent a good amount of time closely listening to the comments from fellow visitors. I even researched the inspiration for the display and will give you my thoughts on it in the near future.  

Philadelphia Flower Show 2013 – Part Deux

As promised yesterday, today’s post is all about the plants/flowers from the Philadelphia Flower Show.  
Sure, I was impressed by all the glitz and glamour and the display gardens, but when it comes down to it, give me the plants and I’m a happy man. 
Here are some of the individual plants that caught my eye:  
Some day I’ll give Clematis a try

Iris ‘Violet Beauty’ color is off the charts

And some of the combos or vignettes that stood out:

Heuchera ‘Blackout’ (which I own) and white rose. Must replicate 

Astilbe love

Who needs flowers?
Now the challenge is to look at my own barren landscape and not get too depressed after ogling all of the blooms at the Flower Show. 

Philadelphia Flower Show 2013

I drove into the City of Brotherly Love last evening for my annual sojourn to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This is the trip that unofficially kicks off the gardening season for me (never mind the fact that we are due for a major snowstorm over the next few days) and the scent alone upon entering the showroom floor is enough to put me into a plant frenzy.
The theme for this year’s show is Great Britain and I’ll agree with the official logo of the show; it was damn “Brilliant”. The centerpiece of it all is a giant replica of good ol “Big Ben” that was bloody brilliant (imagine a British accent for full effect):           

Of course, it didn’t take me long to take my eyes off of Ben and focus on what I really came for … the plants/flowers. It all started with what was planted at the base of Big Ben:

I thought about jumping into the roses head first and just lounging out there for a few hours but that probably would have been frowned upon by all of the other onlookers, so I remained calm and moved on.

At last count, I took over 267 photos and it has taken some time to sort through them all. The challenge, as always, is to take the photos without any of those damn “people” in them. I have found it is a lot easier to go later in the evening when the crowds are much smaller. I have also found it helps to be 6 foot 4 inches tall, so I’ve got that going for me.

I don’t want to put you all in sensory overload, so I will be breaking up my FlowerShow pics over the course of 2, maybe 3 days. For today, I’ll share my photos of the various exhibits/displays and tomorrow, I’ll focus solely on the plants. You good with that? Brilliant.

Here we go:         

And before I leave you, I wanted to share with you the song montage that plays at the top of each hour on the Big Ben video screen. The highlight for me has to be the quick Adam Ant tune; he was a staple for me as I grew up watching MTV in the early 80’s. Enjoy:

Until tomorrow … 

“Garden of the Gods” – Philadelphia Flower Show

A few days ago, I posted a plethora of pictures from the Philadelphia Flower Show. It was a colorful collection of tropical flowers, foliage and art that deeply stimulated the senses. It was a welcome sight at this time of year and an inspiration to become more and more creative in my gardening endeavors. 
Speaking of “creativity”, the garden display that impressed me the most at the PFS and kept me coming back for more was:     

What made this display so interesting and different was the fact that there wasn’t a flower to be found and this was the Philadelphia FLOWER Show:

Maybe because I saw it near the end of my visit, it was a chance to rest the eyes a bit. But every time I walked away, I eventually made my way back. There were at least three different Carex cultivars used and home boy is a sucker for any Carex.

After a little research, I found this description of the “Garden of the Gods”:

A fantasy rock garden inspired by the wind-carved stone formations and lunar-like landscape of Garden of the Gods, an unexpected high-desert area on the island of Lanai. Legend says ancient Hawaiian gods created the garden by dropping boulders from the sky. 
I also found this on the designer’s web site, Handmade Gardens:    

Michael Petrie is known in horticultural circles for his wildly beautiful and unconventional exhibits for the Philadelphia Flower Show, many of which have won “Best in Show”.  

I couldn’t agree more with that statement as I totally dug what the display was going for.

Before I get to some additional photos, here is a link to the video for the “making of” The Garden of the Gods.

OK, photo time:

What do you think? You with me on this one?


Philadelphia Flower Show 2012

To my dismay, I wasn’t going to be able to find the time to attend the annual Philadelphia Flower Show this year. Life and work was getting in the way. 
But, an email delivered to my Inbox on Wednesday night changed all that. It mentioned the fact that the show was open until 9:30 PM each night and the crowds would be a lot more manageable. Hot damn, that’s it! I’ll just take the one hour drive right after work on Thursday and brave the traffic on RT 95. 
The one hour drive turned out to be closer to two hours but it was all worth it. 
The theme this year was “Hawaii, Islands of Aloha” and as is always the case with this show, it didn’t disappoint. I’m still recovering from sensory overload. 
But enough about me, I’ll let the photos tell the story: 

It wasn’t all tropical:

And a quick preview of my next post.

My absolute favorite display of all was “Garden of the Gods” which was chock full of a number of different Carex grasses:

Anyone else attend? What did you think?