The Philadelphia Flower Show has been delighting gardeners from all over the world since 1829. This year the show celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service and the theme is “Explore America”. I must confess I did not know how well the majestic natural beauty of the National Parks would translate in the Flower Show, but after previewing the show today, I can say it is one of the most spectacular shows I have attended in 25 years of coming.
Visitors are greeted at an entrance lodge with towering totem poles made out of flowers, animal forms created out of seeds and pods, spectacular sculptures of life-sized American buffalo and bear created out of mixed media.
Once inside the entrance lodge, towering floral chandeliers adorned with pheasant feathers hang above while big screens project footage taken in many national park while a Wild West soundtrack plays. It is mesmerizing and the effect is breathtaking.
In tribute to Philadelphia’s national historical treasures, there were displays of the Independance Park boasting a giant red white and blue Liberty Bell complete with its crack hung above a wooden wall engraved with the Constitution.
The Valley Forge National Park where Washington encampted his troops during the Revolutionary war was recreated with several of the log cabins housing the soldiers.
The Flower Show’s timing the first week of March is the perfect escape from the doldrums of winter and this show did not disappoint. The smells, sounds and sights of spring abounded at every corner.
More than 10,000 tulips of every color under the rainbow were planted in honor of Lady BIrd Johnson’s National Tulip Library.
Founded in 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their National Park treasures. There are 408 National Parks in the USA. I found this show was rich in history and educational opportunities to learn about these magnificent cultural and natural landmarks. One could learn about the regeneration of forests devastated by fire in the display of Yellowstone National Park then discover the tropical paradise rich in orchids honoring Hawaiian National parks just a few steps away.
What just blew me away was how the creative souls designing the show could transport us to the majesty and awe of the redwood and sequoia forests of the west. One display was designed to look like a giant tree trunk. Once inside you beheld a stunning 5 “stories” of red chandeliers towering above, several created entirely of flowers. The pictures don’t do it justice!
My favorite display was the tribute to American photographer Amsel Adams all done in tone on tone shades in very modern graphic shapes in front of blown up images of Amsel photography. The waterfall was created of white orchids strung on wires. Stunning. Arresting: just like Ansel’s work, the first documentarian of the raw, majestic beauty of our National Park treasures.
“When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my mind’s eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.” Ansel Adams
The miniature displays were impressive as usual. Here are a few of my favorites:
The following 3 framed pieces of art commemorating National Parks are made entirely of dried flower petals! Independance Hall is a first prize winner. Behold the sky created out of violets. Mount Rushmore was designed entirely with dried ferns. Just amazing.
I hope you have enjoyed joining me on a preview of the 177th Philadelphia Flower Show. The Flower Show opens March 5th and will welcome the public until March 13th. Please visit the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society‘s site for additional details. This is a show you will not want to miss!