March is the month for flower shows. I enjoyed two, starting with the acclaimed 'biggest and best' in Philadelphia. As usual, winter didn't pause its brutal attack, and this year there were two nor'easters, Winter Storm Riley barrelled in as the show was about to start; Quinn arrived on the days for which I'd made hotel reservations and booked an early morning tour. Fortunately, I was able to reschedule both; I'm so happy it worked out. My only disappointment was that some of the plants were beginning to fade. I prefer to go earlier in the week when the flowers are very fresh, but the snowstorms caused my change of plans. The theme was 'Wonders of Water' celebrating the interplay between life-sustaining water and horticulture. Entering the show, instead of the usual entrance way or archway, we walked through a tropical rainforest, with its canopy of lush plants, following a winding path toward a 25-foot waterfall. All around were the sounds of the rainforest, plus the sights and scents of nearly 4,000 tropical plants, including orchids, heliconias, and anthuriums. It was impossible for me, with my insufficient photography skills, to capture the effect of the ever-shifting rain curtain and the misting pool. The beauty and wonder of the rainforest entrance garden highlighted the significance of the rainforest's vital role in purifying water and sustaining our environment.
|Lucite tubes depicting rain submerge visitors in a watery world|
The education aspect of the event focused upon the importance of clean water in out lives and innovative ways to protect and conserve our finite water sources. One exhibit showed how plant systems cleanse and sustain the Delaware River Watershed through mountains, fields, marshes and streams. Plants are the heroes, providing riparian buffers on the edges of rivers and waterways.
|Horsetail, or scouring, rushes cleanse the water at the edges of the river.|
In contrast, Waldor Orchids took you under the sea with their clever display of orchids depicting a coral reef.
|A coral reef of orchids|
|Laelia Santa Barbara Sunset 'Showtime'|
I am always amazed at the quality and quantity of plants submitted for display and for competition. A few of my favorites this year:
|Top: Dendrobium speciosum. Right: new rock garden iris. Left: Fothergilla|
|10,000 tulip bulbs made up this colorful display|
I adored the interiorscape called 'A Botanist's Fantastical Library' submitted by the Wissahicken Garden Club. This competition entry brought together a love of plants and of books. A wall of falling water to the left of the bookcase, large staghorn ferns on the adjacent wall, orchids and other beautiful plants in the room, and each book with dried flowers on its spine, made this my favorite display of the show. Maybe, being a librarian (in another life) caused my prejudice, but books and plants in elegant surroundings, what more could a gardener want?
|A Botanist's Fantastical Library|
On an early morning tour, I was privileged to listen to several designers explaining their gardens. I was struck by 'Verdant Delight' by Irwin Landscaping. Water fell from one pool to the next (over straight edges to create sound) in this unusual garden space. The plant material defined the seasonal use of the garden.
After two days at the Philadelphia Flower Show, we returned home, took one day's rest, then visited the Lehigh Valley Flower and Garden Show. There we found a more traditional garden pond and waterfall.
|Waterfall in a koi fishpond|
At both shows we observed vertical gardens and living walls -- definitely a trend now. The living wall at the Lehigh Valley Show was especially stunning. Beautiful plants grew on the outside wall of a potting shed which was heated by a solar panel.
|Left: Vertical garden at the Phili show. Right: Living wall at the Allentown Show.|
The Lehigh Valley show is very small, but worth a visit. The many early blooming flowers for sale gave me a welcome taste of spring. I bought a miniature daffodil and two primroses and took spring home.
|I purchased the primrose on the left|
More favorites of mine:
|Cyclamen (in great container), pitcher plant, and staghorn fern in moss on a rustic board.|
The theme this year was 'Fields, Farms, and Backyards' which explained the presence of some cute animals.
The flower and garden shows that proliferate this time of year herald spring and the beginning of the garden season. Unfortunately, the weather does not agree with more snow on the way...
Have you been to, or are you planning to attend, a good flower show this year? I hope so.
|Begonia with cockleshell-shaped leaves|
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