Philadelphia Flower Show goes Hawaiian


The largest and oldest flower show in the U.S., the Philly Flower Show is a always grand, but especially this year (to this visitor) because it brought the lushness of Hawaii to green-deprived Easterners.  Starting with this 30-foot waterfall festooned with orchids and Anthuriums.


Below, don’t try this at home.  Maybe in a hotel lobby?


I was happy to see touches of Hawaiian funky, which I love as much as the vegetation.  Surf’s up and all that.



The front porch displays were my favorite reminders of real Island gardens, especially the one below on the left.  On the right, they got the spirit right but a lava rock walkway?  Not in bare feet. Not even in sandels.  Ridiculous idea!

Below, Asian-style minimalism works well, but a tiny lawn, not so much.


In fact, to my eyes, nothing Eastern worked in this year’s show.  That includes the overwhelming displays of forced spring blossoms in the exhibit below.  Though local landscapers who pay a fortune for displays like this can’t be faulted, I guess, for wanting to showcase plants that would grow in Pennsylvania.


A very popular feature of the show were the amazing displays of pressed plant art, like these.



Below, miniature gardens are always a hoot.


And a personal favorite were these tall mesh columns filled with a variety of natural materials, even clam shells. They were the created by the aspiring designers in Temple’s School of Environmental Design, and their display took first prize among academic entries.

I coveted the terrarium containers.


Green walls were everywhere, like this one covered in spring greens.  And this compost tea bin was part of a large exhibit about soil health.


Lots of food-growing going on, and not just in this wonderful display by the Pennsylvia Hort Society’s City Harvest program.  Do click that link to learn about how inmates start the plants, which then go into community gardens, where crops are grown and harvested for food pantries.  I was told that many of the recipient families have expressed interest in being part of the growing process, so City Harvest is finding ways to close the loop.  Inmates are also channeled into landscaping apprenticeships.  Last year the Flower Show raised about $1 million for City Harvest and other terrific programs.


Next week I’ll post photos of products that caught my eye in the Show’s market.


  1. Thank you for ranting about this perfect flower show, even a little bit.

    Disgusted by totally rave reviews about every flower show, garden tour, blah-blah.

    Gardening should be held up to the standards of a ballet, concert, move, painting.

    Criticism with intellect & love.

    It’s instructive.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. Oooo I like those wire containers. I see some similar in BBC Gardener’s World. Gabbions? I think they are called. I have acres of fieldstone that I could use (wishful thinking to actually create though….) The forced plants look nice for us winter starved for plant life but there is always someone who wants that “look” recreated in their yard.

  3. Oh, gabion styled containers! Very nice. I have a little fantasy wherein there are gabion garden beds. I don’t know how realistic/do-able that is but I like the look!

  4. It’s Kona not Kono and red and black cinder were quite common as gravel mulch in beds and in pathways with or without stepping stones. Da Rubbah Slippas got plenty thick sole. No worries.

  5. Thanks for the overview! Love the pressed flower art, and I’m all for more gabion too… pillars, pots, rock walls, whatever. Nice for a DIY person because you can carry a small load of rocks at a time but end up with a large, sturdy rock feature.

  6. I very much enjoyed the installations this year, but I have to agree that the thematic standards were pretty loose – as always. Maybe that is ok: the one always-Irish display, the azaleas, etc. It would be a great imposition to ask every installer to stick absolutely to the year’s theme.

    I’m glad the Show is getting such good publicity around the country. On the other hand, I found the crowds, at certain points, completely overwhelming.

  7. Santa Fe has a lovely park in the old rail yards that incorporates gabion low walls with railroad ties left for beds and paths. There is a very large trelis type structure out of what appears to be old phone poles and wire with the start of wisteria. The gabion structure fite very well in the dry landscaping and the industrial reclamation look.

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