Garden Diary - March 2012

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Philadelphia Flower Show - Tropical Paradise, Hawaiian Style

Meet Sally at the Citgo. She comes dashing out to my car as I stop at the double red flashing light. Off we go to Joan's house across the river. Transfer to her car and drive to the Doylestown SEPTA train station. Train finally comes, we board, and I haul out my knitting. Knitting is very good for long train rides. Arrive at the convention center. Look at the throngs gliding up the escalators, level by level. We trudge up the stairs. And then

through the doors into the vast space, entering under the waves. Highly popular for photographs.

This year's theme is Hawaii. It's everywhere, even down to some people wearing leis (silk, I think), and
men in flower print Hawaiian shirts. Everything tropical, from flower arrangements to crafts to gardens.

Lots of sand and surf, I mean water. Example, this lagoon complete with surfboard and hammock.

Is this a lanai? Maybe. Certainly looks inviting, from outdoor (roofed) kitchen, bar, patio, and pool.

The one that really made me smile with delight is the ivy society's garden,
complete with tiki hut and surfer dudes. Cowabunga!

. . .

With few alternatives, as I mentioned, all was tropical island, sand and surf themes. One superb exception -
this fantastic example of lovely vegetables, salvaged and recycled wood for fences, structures, and cold frames,
pithy worded informative blackboards from City Harvest, a program growing fresh food for 1,000 families.
Jointly sponsored and managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Prison System,
and other organizations. Loved their wall of lettuce. Salad, anyone?

In a different garden I noticed a tire planter. Rather than standard black
it is chic, painted white and ornamented with pink rosettes and thin lines.

. . .

The horticultural exhibits always include orchids. This year, with the tropical Hawaii theme, it seems as if there are even more, beautifully grown.
Two that especially caught my eye were the pot of modest size cattleya in a rich orange rust hue, and a superb pot with many paphelipedilum.

. . .

There are classes for bulbs - specific cultivars of daffodil, perhaps, or any daffodil of a certain size, or grown in a specific size of pot. Fascinating are the pots
of mixed bulbs such as the red / white / blue combination of hyacinths, tulips, and grape hyacinths. Difficult, trying to get the different kinds into peak bloom
not merely simultaneously but also for a specific date. I thought the other pot depicted here, with 3 different Hippeastrum, Tulipa batalinii, little daffodils,
and hyacinth - might be 'Blue Jacket' - is a tour de force but looks top-heavy to me, the hippeastrum out of scale for the daintier spring-blooming bulbs.

Not that I don't appreciate hippeastrum. Just look at this
magnificent flower, clearly well placed in its own class.

. . .

As well as gardens and horticulture and flower arrangements there are two sections that go well beyond the familiar and ordinary. Each year there is a"jewelry from plant parts."
Different every year, of course this year it was - right - Hawaiian. Including a subsection for purses that might be carried to a royal event. Colorization is fine, as is snipping and
manipulation. A "parts list" is required for each entry. These two were absolutely stunning! I cannot decide which is my favorite, the turquoise / teal green seashell with coral or
the leaping silver dolphins cavorting over the blue green marine water and waving fronds of kelp. Both are incredibly creative, from concept to a wonderful execution of design.

. . .


The other section - beyond craft to artistic - is the one for pressed flower pictures. This picture-perfect
view is painstakingly built up from dried, flat-pressed petals and leaves. The fidelity is astounding. Many
of the entries are send from abroad, places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan. With time, I think
the colors fade to taupe, tan, and beige. At least that is what happens to my simplistic pressed flowers.

Delectable, delicious, and tropical. After walking a couple of miles
around the convention center we headed for the train. We departed
pleased with what we did see, and knowing well we didn't see it all.
Every year a different theme and next year it will be English gardens.
Until then I'll need to see gardens closer to home. And Holland . . . .

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