Holland at the Philadelphia Flower Show

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Attendees loved the orchid promenade, with orchids overhead and on either side.

By Denise Schreiber

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This custom iron gate was part of the display by Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens.

I always block off some time in March for the Philadelphia Flower Show. I have been going to the show for twenty-eight straight years even though I live on the other side of the state. For me it is a signal that spring is around the corner and I will soon smell the intoxicating fragrance of flowers again. A couple of friends and I always make the journey, excited to see what the new theme displays will look like, discover ideas that we can steal for home (because that is the point of these displays) and of course shop at the marketplace.

The Philadelphia Flower Show has several components: major landscapes, educational displays, juried exhibits, floral displays, the Gardener’s Studio, the design gardens, exhibits from plant societies, and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society Gold Medal Plants. This year’s theme was “Holland, Flowering the World.” Bulbs, bulbs and more bulbs were to be found in the major landscape displays as well as used in other venues.

When we think of Holland, we think of tulips, wooden shoes, and windmills but Holland is the world’s largest supplier of not only tulips but cut flowers too! So there were

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Bicycles painted white combined with flowers in this stunning display.

displays by Studio Toop of a magnificent, natural landscape filled with early blooming bulbs and spring ephemerals and Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens that featured a custom iron gate to die for. There is a collection of bonsai pieces, carefully tended for several years as well as juried exhibits of begonias, cactus, rock gardens, orchids and more. There was even a nod to Holland’s notorious red light district in one of the exhibits.

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Closeup of a scene in Holland composed completely of plant material.

One of my favorite displays each year is the pressed flower pictures. The only thing that is allowed is the flowers themselves with a background and frame. No coloring of any kind. When you look at the pictures you have to remember that every detail in the picture is made from pressed flowers and grasses cut into intricate detail.

The Eco-Dome from Holland made its North American debut at the show. It is a showcase of the innovative green technologies from the Netherlands. Think of it as a very large geodesic dome that is open. It features new ideas such as converting rainwater into drinking water, recycled concrete, solar power, special lighting – a glimpse into the future of sustainability. The Eco-Dome has been host to a meeting for the ministers of the European Union and now we have the opportunity to experience that as well.

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This bonsai was in display in the horticultural exhibit.

A common sight at the show is large bouquets of forced pussy willows that you see in people’s arms as they wander through the show’s marketplace. While it seems perfectly natural to us northerners, it does raise a question of why from those who are not from the cold north. For us, the appearance of pussy willows with their soft, gray catkins reminiscent of a kitten is a sign that spring is around the corner. They delight us with these long stalks of spring that we take home and place in a vase to enjoy for several months because sometimes spring takes its good old time getting here!

Next year’s Philadelphia Flower Show theme is “Wonders of Water” from March 3 – 11th, 2018. Plan on being there…I will.

Meet the Author

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Denise Schreiber is a professional greenhouse grower and horticulturist, an ISA Certified Arborist, speaker, teacher, freelance writer, and wild-eyed plant lover. She is Mrs. Know It All™ for “The Organic Gardeners” radio show on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and as “Ask the Expert” for Pennsylvania Gardener. Her most recent book is “Eat Your Roses:…Pansies, Lavender and 49 other Delicious Flowers. She is currently serving as the GWA National Director for Region II.

Author: GardenComm

GardenComm, formerly known as GWA: the Association for Garden Communicators, provides leadership and opportunities for education, recognition, career development and a forum for diverse interactions for professionals in the field of gardening communication. GardenComm members includes book authors, bloggers, staff editors, syndicated columnists, free-lance writers, photographers, speakers, landscape designers, television and radio personalities, consultants, publishers, extension service agents and more. No other organization in the industry has as much contact with the buying public as GardenComm members.

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