Thursday, March 13, 2008

Philadelphia Flower Show 2008

I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show with two students in plant biology, and we walked around and freely criticized modern horticulture from a scientific perspective. I have been to this show three times, and this was the worst so far when it comes to the large landscape installations. The problem was the theme this year: "Jazz on the Bayou". The lack of inspiration and creativity was astounding. Most exhibits just threw in some music instruments, green, gold and purple Mardi Gras beads, or planted purple-flowering plants.

But there was some nice things, and I especially like the floral arrangements, the small-scale front porch gardens. There is also a large area were vendors sell everything from hedge clippers to hammocks, but most is 'garden junk'. Made in China signs that says "Welcome to my Garden", wind chimes, or birdhouses no bird would ever like. What is the use with bird houses if the birds can't nest in them? I think that is a general theme for these horticultural events - practicality and logic is not of much importance, only looks. There was only two places that sold seeds, and I got some from both. I also got rhubarb roots - maybe they will grow the third time I plant them???

As I said - brass instruments. At least these formed a cool fountain.

This table setting for two was nice, but watch out for that upright chicken wire arrangement. If you get that between you, you might feel like you are in prison.

Another music-inspired center piece for a dinner for two - this had hot peppers in it!

There was a special exhibit where they combined fashion design with a flower arrangement. Here is a plastic dress with plastic-looking orange flowers. Not my favorite.
This was the worst. The name of this dress, made completely by molded rubber, is Stress. Look carefully, and the pattern are faces - molded rubber from real faces. The accompanying flwoer arrangement wasn't even worth taking a picture off.
This was kind of nice - tropical bromeliads that reminded me of Chihuly's glass art. Of course nobody in NJ or Pennsylvania could grow these outside, that would only be possible in Florida or Hawaii.
How about a rose cake for dessert? Pretty neat. I really liked this, because it wasn't overdone and they stuck to a few nice themes (stones and roses).

Two mice are making garden music. A real common problem with many of the garden exhibits were that they took no notice of what plants actually can grow together in their designs. There were cycads (tropical) with blueberries, bromeliads with azaleas, and giant epiphytic orchids stuffed into Louisiana look-alike swamps. Plants were crowded too tight, so tight it looked unnatural and sick. Plants that fit together estethically doesn't necessarily survive together, but this doesn't seem to bother the horticulturalists. The lack of simplicity (less is more) and moderation was appalling - it was a mish-mash of different shapes, materials, colors (more is better), which really surprised me. One exhibit in particular, a first prize exhibit at that, was the worst offender. I didn't take a picture - too bad, I think you would have agreed.

OK, so I was pretty critical, but it was an interesting show, especially since I disagreed with so much. The best thing was a Fiskars hedge loppers that is now in our house, ready to attack our multiflora roses. It was made in Finland, not China, yeah!


O.K. said...

I wonder if you picked the most hideous stuff to make a point. Or was it really that bad? That rubber face dress could be from "Silence of the lambs". It's scary...

Should you ever fancy a "nice" piano table, I think you can find some pink insulation foam in the barn. That's what it looks to be made out of anyway.

LS said...

I didn't pick the most hideous stuff, except the rubber dress. That was on purpose, I admit. Otherwise I actually didn't take picture of the worst atrocities. It was a lot worse than what I showed you!