"Holland: Flowering the World," the theme of this year's Philadelphia Flower Show presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), celebrates the beauty, color, and ingenuity of Dutch culture. H.H. and I took the train into the city -- later in the week than intended due to winter storm, Stella, dumping two feet of snow at our house -- and it was wonderful to escape from snow, ice and bitter cold into a world of spring flowers. As we entered the show, we were welcomed by a display of 30,000 blooms surrounding bridges, canals and water gardens. The bridges were overflowing with flower boxes and hanging baskets. The sight filled me with awe.
|Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's exhibit greets you as you enter the show|
We were met by our dear friend, and fellow Brit, Jenny Rose Carey, who is the senior director at PHS Meadowbrook Farm. She is justifiably proud of the fabulous Entry Garden and the part she played in its production. I looked forward to taking a tour of the show with Jenny Rose as guide.
|Bicycles and blooms on the bridge in the Entry Garden|
|The bridge has a green ceiling with Delft tiles|
Passing under the bridge we found 6,000 more blooms forming a giant floral canopy. The blooms were freeze dried then suspended on 16 miles of parachute string. (As Jenny Rose said, it's a good thing the lines of string didn't become tangled while being installed.) With the addition of Euro pop music and a light-show, the effect is stunning.
|Hanging field of tulips|
The surrounding gardens demonstrate the natural and sustainable approach of the Dutch New Wave Movement. I love the drifts of mass plantings: astilbe, echinacea, fritallaria, lamb's ears, and other perennials; this is the style I try to achieve in my cottage garden. Wild grasses, cherry trees and sycamores enhance the scene. I believe this method is the very best way to garden, with the added benefits of no mulching nor weeding.
|Dutch new wave planting|
Beyond the PHS's entry garden, the Ecodome is all about green living. It showcases up-to-date sustainable production of vegetables and green technologies, proving the Dutch have more than just tulips in their horticultural arsenal. This is the first stop of the Ecodome's inaugural journey around the world.
|Ecodome behind the windmills|
I always enjoy the landscape design gardens at each show and this year promises to be special with guest designers from Holland as well as our own top competitors in the field. A local PA landscaper, Mark Cook, was awarded Best of Show with his 'Inner Waters' design. He shows a beautiful reflecting pool with raised berms. I love his stylized windmill sculpture seen through an espaliered cherry tree arch. I also like the way he pruned boxwood into waves.
|Mark Cook's 'Inner Waters' took Best of Show|
Jenny Rose's favorite is Nico Wising's design. I'm sorry to say I did not do this justice with my camera. Wising uses natural materials: woven willow and naturalistic plantings (such as fothergilla, that I don't grow, but is now on my 'must get' list). He stresses the importance of using products with a small ecological footprint.
|Dutch designer Nico Wising's 'Reconnection'|
|Fothergilla Fothrgilla major|
I have an aversion to chain-link fencing and wont have it in my garden -- until I saw how Carrie Preston, also from Holland, incorporated lacework into her fence. Her show garden is an interpretation of the 'stinze' gardens of the Netherlands' stately homes.
|A small part of Carrie Preston's interpretation of the 'stinze' gardens|
At the opening ceremony, the Dutch Ambassador presented a new tulip from Holland that took 15 years to develop. It was named 'Philly Belle' in honor of the show.
|Tulip Tulipa 'Philly Belle'|
Cognizant of the common colors of the US flag and the Dutch flag, white tulips were dyed blue to add to red ones and white ones.
There are several examples of sustainable roof gardens at the show. The most impressive is Bart Hoes' garden. Jenny Rose showed us how green roofs are made.
|Jenny Rose explains how to make a green roof|
|Pedals: The White Bike Plan|
Here are a few other favorite of mine:
|Japan Flowers and Plants Export Assoc. displayed bleached dried flowers in bamboo frames|
|Traditional Cropped Willow Tree|
|Gardening in a very small space: a rock garden|
|Orchids Hoop House|
There is much to interest children including interactive and educational exhibits such as 'Butterflies Alive' with more than 1,000 butterflies, a 'Make and Take' crafts area, a railway garden, and a Junior Flower Show. The latter engages children throughout the region from preschool to high school during the school year. Because I conduct workshops (and write) about gardening with children, I was especially interested in some of the show gardens designed by students. As gardeners, we know how important it is to start them young!
|Children's Alphabet Garden|
|Children's garden with fairies. Love the hat.|
|Adorable miniature iris|
There is so much at the Philadelphia Flower Show, a great deal more than in this posting. I am so glad I am able to attend each year; I think 2017 is my favorite so far. It was extra special because I was able to spend time with a good friend. I can't close without congratulating her on her new book, Glorious Shade, that will be released in April. Jenny Rose showed us the author copy and it looks amazing. The book is available on Amazon for pre-order. When I get my copy, I'll review it in a blog post.
|Jenny Rose's new book|
I look forward to next year's event: it has the theme "Wonders of Water" so I'll be able to pursue my interest in water gardens. The Philadelphia Flower Show always puts me in the mood for spring and this one was no exception!