Sunday, March 4, 2012

Philadelphia International Flower Show 2012

I just got back from the Philadelphia International Flower Show 2012. This year's theme was an Orchid Orgasm! 

Actually this year's theme was Hawaii: Islands of Aloha, which is news to me because up until I arrived I thought it was Waves of Change or something. Anyhow this is easily the best flower show I've gone to so far.

Let's begin by discussing my strategy of showing up as early as possible. Despite being Sunday morning I was surprised to see how many old ladies skipped out on church to come see the show. Even then the crowds weren't as awful as they have been in the past and I wish the best of luck to anyone thinking they're going to be able to walk comfortably after twelve noon. The main theme exhibits are where all of the traffic jams occur. Supposedly more than 10,000 people are expected to show up the first day, and I can say from past experience that it's not an unrealistic goal for weekdays either. One women was practically forcing my hand into her purse as she pushed me out of the way to take a photo. The artistic, floral, and educational exhibits don't draw nearly as big of a crowd, so beyond the main exhibit everyone disperses nicely.    

You enter the show under curved view screens that display waves which help set the tone. They're lined with white orchids and something else that's rich with the fragrance of pollen. This sudden hit of fragrance at the entrance has always been a key point to making a good show, but wasn't as strong as in past years.

From behind, the big wave isn't nearly as impressive but it's nice to see the use of technology. 

The main theme exhibit is a massive waterfall which I wasn't able to do justice to. It's as tall as the Aggro Crag but covered in Orchids and has a waterfall down the front!

This is so much more impressive than a mary-go-round and two legs of the Eiffel tower that highlighted last year's show. 

Orchids take the place of Rhododendrons which where almost completely absent from the show itself. And it took me a good hour of walking before I saw my first bulb which is really saying a lot for the designers of this year's show. 

Exhibits were happily growing pineapple right in the scenery.

Star Fruit, Honey Melon, Bananas, I love it when food plants are used in these displays. (I would have centered this picture better but there was this women in a wheel chair who fought a lot harder than me to get a better angle.)

All I recognize here are Paradise Flowers and I'm not even confident with that ID.

I'm also unsure why some of them were growing hair.

Apparently this table won some awards. I have to admit I'm completely ignorant to the judging process or even what categories there are. Stopping to read anything just isn't practical at these crowded shows. 

This is the end of an exhibit who's line was moving to slow to even bother with. I liked the flowers here but the rest was manikins dressed in native Hawaiian attire standing around huts and surf boards, and at a glance looked stereotypical and offensive, despite its educational attempt. 

Despite the lack of flowers here, this was one of my favorite of the theme displays.

It shows more of a Hawaiian badlands area. Actual volcanic rocks were used throughout. The large tower to the left is made of stacked break pads and train wheel-like parts.

It's reminiscent of a meadow and I think that's why I like it so much.

 The landscapers this year seemed to be confused where to focus their attention. The main theme of the show is tropics so they have the option of going with that theme or staying true to what works around here. I might be mistaken and this could be an artistic exhibit but they've tried to create a lava effect. (My map has this labeled as a landscaping exhibit though.)

 For lack of a better image I like how this one was more casual in showing off an ideal back yard get away. They used actual white sand for their entire exhibit which expands far off to the right out of frame.

This was probably the smartest of the designs, as far as stirring up local business is concerned. Change out a few of the plants and I could see this being someone's back yard.

Also something I noticed about exhibits with ponds in them. Everyone keeps throwing money in them!
 To me this was as eye catching as the main theme exhibits. Note that some of the buildings have rooftop gardens. It's begging for a topiary Godzilla ... or lawn mower... or topiary Godzilla vs. the Lawnmower! 

 The models are well made, and the tiny plants are almost perfectly scaled to be trees.

 Sure the roads look a little cheap but that's a pretty good representation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


 There was one there which a memorial to the Battleship Arizona, complete with names of the officers who died as the focus of their design.  
As a side note I noticed the really tall Snapdragons were in one of the artistic exhibits.

These are my two favorite staged designs. There were other art exhibits surrounding but I don't follow them that much. Paintings of flowers, dresses made of flowers, tiny window boxes of flowers... it all starts to look the same after a while. 

 The EPA had an exhibit on display featuring all native plants! I didn't have time to stop and read the labels to all of them but there were lots of small blue phlox coming into bloom.

 Rhododendrons (I think the only ones to appear at this year's show) were also part of their exhibit along side blueberry plants in flower.

Carnivorous pitcher plants were also flowering.

Blueberries in flower.

Fothergilla grande.

An issue with using natives is fewer nurseries grow them and aren't willing to expend their stock by forcing them to flower out of season. The result is often green and brown being the most common colors at this time of year. In years past I think they used witch hazel, and berry plants in their exhibit.

Onto what I'm calling the orgasm of orchids. What seemed like more than a third of the Horticultural part of the show was comprised of nothing but Orchids!

I knew this was a big family of plants but there was a ridiculous amount of variety here. 

 One of the prettiest pictures I took at the show.

 This one actually grew like a tree or Rhododendron with all it's flowers atop the taller stems.

 Here's an Orchid that wants to be a Trillium.


 Talk about out growing its pot.


 Ipheion... Why don't people just use Blue Eyed Grass?

 Didn't get the name of this one but it's nice. 

Someone had an Amorphophallus titanum at the show! This is a great big tropical plant that takes something like 50 years to make a very awful smelling flower. 

 And last of all there's the area reserved for the usual crap. Crocuses, Daffodils, Irises, Narcissus, Tulips, Hyacinths have all been included in the main theme exhibits in the past 4 years that I've gone to the show. While there's something wonderful to say that you can see them in professional designs buy them at any garden center, it eventually begs the question why anyone would ever pay money to see them at a show if that's all they're going to use. The fact that they were didn't use them at all is what makes this the best flower show I've ever been to.

Now a brief moment of shopping.
This vender was a crazy person. They're selling snowdrops in individual pots. You can buy them normally at any garden center by the bag for a few dollars. Some of them are 'cultivars' but it's hard to justify buying them this way. The pot and dirt are probably more expensive than the bulb inside of them. Having slightly more green spots, or a stem that's slightly shorter than normal on a plant that's barely noticeable to begin with ... Like do any of these honestly look that different from the norm!? They're Snowdrops! It's not uncommon for them to flower in the snow. No one is laying down in the mud or snow just to see how this cultivar differs. The effing flower even faces the ground! I don't even think they're double flowering!

Orchids, 3 for $20. If I knew how to grow them these properly that sounds like a great deal.

Seed packets for Thistle. It's a nonnative currently invading the west coast but thistle all the same. 

My only real complaint was that I didn't get laid at the show, though they were selling them. So that was the show this year. LOVED IT! 

Also Fun Fact: A Hawaiian Luau doesn't get the same result as Mardi Gras beads.