The Philadelphia Flower Show (grand Poobah of American flower shows) is the first show I’ve attended where floral exhibition was integrated into the landscape rather than segregated as a separate area. This year’s theme, ‘ARTiculture’, found designs inspired by a selected piece of art, a range of paintings by a particular artist, or even a specific exhibit at a museum.
An imaginative, enormous flight of floral imagination greeted us as we (with fellow APLD members) entered the show. Nearby was a large ‘wild’ garden that focused on native plants. We saw gardens inspired by painters, Mondrian, Matisse, Wyeth, and more, as well as one inspired by a Korean exhibit. Smaller student gardens emphasized sustainability. Here are the gardens or details that captured my attention:
Because I will be in Philadelphia during the course of Portland’s Yard, Garden, & Patio Show this year, I asked to come to the show the day before its opening. Yes, it’s a LOT hectic that day, with so much construction still going on. So I’m focusing this designer’s eye on what was in place during my visit and definitely before all gardens were complete and ready to face the public. Favorite components of these Designers’ Challenge Showcase Gardens were:
Come Alive Outside, Design and construction by Dennis’ 7 Dees
There were several features that I particularly liked in this garden: the constructed garden room with dining within, the use of metal watering troughs as raised planters, the funky water feature, and the decking pattern. The galvanized steel roof of the structure worked well with the galvanized planters.
Inside Out, A Family Portrait: Design by Elida Rivera/All Oregon Landscaping
A garden created for a family that likes to cook outdoors, as well as a fire place where they can gather are the components that define the layout of this garden. Beautiful outdoor kitchen counters and a table with colorful stools are exceptional details.
A Bountiful Feast, Design by Jenna Bauer with Showscapes
Although there was a LOT of activity within the center of this garden, components that were pretty evident are a water feature to welcome visitors, raised edible beds, a chicken coop, Belgian espaliered orchard/screen, entertainment bar, and sustainable greenhouse. When completed, this garden will also include a compost transfer station and a water collections system. I really liked the entire concept of having these all relate to one another.
Abstract Reflections, Design by Matt Hammack, Autumn Leaf Landscaping
Goal to make small space look larger, elevation changes, angles, saturated soil/low spot area, reflective pond with fire elements, art backed by water screens with dripping water, covered patio structure which can double as a greenhouse; woven metal fence (from metal flashing).
Small Lot, Big Entertainment, Design by Linda Meier with JP Stone Landscape Contractor
There were several clever highlights in this garden and they all involve circles: The repurposed metal disc used as a hanging lamp; the exceptional cut metal screens by artist, Patrick Gracewood; another round metal disc is used as a water fall. A partial circular pergola that supported the light fixture also supported hanging metal screens which could diffuse a view beyond in a real garden.
The Art of Tranquility, Design by Treeline Designz with JSI Landscapes
A structural wall that encloses and divides this garden into two distinct areas defines the garden’s layout. Prayer wheels to be installed later in the day will welcome visitors into the space. While I was there they were working on the water feature area and paving. I loved the angular shade structure and guessed that the colored tubes might be what was going to go overhead to create shade or act as lighting. I’m also a sucker for those gorgeous ceramic prayer wheels which you can see in the “Learning from Garden Shows, Part 1”.
Not part of the show gardens, but still a nice feature is an edible garden where designers have planted edibles that not only taste good, but look great together!
The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon always has a spectacular display of winter-interest cuttings along with one of Linda Beutler’s amazing floral arrangements. This year is no different.
Now, off to packing for Philadelphia and the last garden show of this 4-part series.
At this time of year, garden shows are in abundance. The Northwest Flower and Garden Show has already been tucked away until next year, with two Portland shows about to happen over the next two weeks. The granddaddy, The Philadelphia Flower Show, begins Feb. 28.
Seeing something new is what I yearn to see as a landscape designer, but I also enjoy things I have seen if they are done superbly. As for the awards, I think the judges were spot on in their judgment this year. Also, I found this year’s gardens more difficult to photograph than ever before and I think it was because many designers didn’t consider backdrop (as in protecting the viewer from the marketplace beyond or ugly walls) and reflections (particularly of the overhead show lights in the adjacent marketplace); so my profuse apologies for out-of-focus photographs. Here’s what was most interesting to me at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show:
Each year I faithfully travel to Seattle to attend the NW Flower & Garden Show. This year was no different, except that we did have some snow challenges. What’s been different for me these past 2 years is that I also speak at this show. But I can’t resist hearing other talks. Those I listened to were Dan Pearson, Matthew Levesque, Debra Prinzing, David Mizejewski, and Ivette Soler. Dan’s design ideas and photos were breathtaking, even if his speaking manner was underwhelming. Debra’s and Matthew’s photos and talks about repurposing found objects were terrific. David’s was informative and encouraging about backyard wildlife habitat. Since my garden already meets all of their criteria to be approved as a wildlife habitat, I’m going to fill out that form today and submit it! Ivette Soler is one exuberant, bubbly speaker when it comes to putting edibles in your front yard. I’ve just purchased her book and am in the process of reading it. Looks good!
Browsing the gardens is the highlight and it’s difficult to come away empty-handed from the marketplace.“Wish ‘Shoe’ Were Here” garden was created by the APLD, Washington Chapter. An enormous shoe, the likes of Sex and the City gals, occupied front stage. An intriguing garden layout and some delightful art were its highlights, along with a few choice plants, like Fuchsia ‘Lechlade Gordon’.
Some of my fellow APLD WA members, d4collective, created the signature garden, “The Garden in Verse”. I loved their use of fabric outdoors to create a cocooned, soft, moon garden.
“Next Stop, Hotel Babylon” was a very contemporary garden with vertical and roof-top planting – one of my favorites.
“A Day Well Spent” by Christianson’s Nursery had some interesting edible highlights in their garden. “Paradise (to be) Regained” was a cute, sustainable garden designed by seventeen-year-old, Courtney Goetz.Karen Stefonick’s “A Wrinkle in Time’ had a ‘crystal ball’ and an attractive patio design.“Run Little Pigs, Run!”, a garden designed by Susan Browne, was full of humor and design interest.
Another favorite garden was “The Japanese Garden: Bridging History”. Beautifully designed by Phil Wood (another APLD member), this garden was simply stunning. Well considered details and it included cherry trees in full bloom (about 2 months ahead of schedule). No small feat!!
A few highlights in the market place for me were Abraxas Crow (one is now happily residing in my garden), a ceramic artist’s colorful totems and many of the glass blowers. A new artist I have not seen before had exquisite ceramic prayer wheels. And who could stay away from seeds and plants? Not me!