Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring in Winter

We're now at Friday at the end of Kali's spring break week.  (For that matter, it's my spring break week, too, because I'm adjunct faculty at one of the universities in Philadelphia.)  In prior years, Kali and I often traveled during this week, but this year we decided to stay in town because the weather has been so bad and unpredictable that we didn't want to risk losing power (and heat), only to return home to find burst pipes (a very distinct possibility this year).  And, we didn't look forward to flight interruptions because of inclement weather.

Because we stayed in town, we decided to spend Wednesday afternoon and evening at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest and oldest flower show in North America.  While we had pretty much made up our minds last weekend to attend the show, the show organizers on Monday made the unprecedented decision to offer a significant reduction in the entrance fee because meteorologists had forecast the worst snowstorm of the season for Sunday night into Monday, a storm which - fortunately - veered to our south and only brought us 1-1/2 inches of snow instead of the forecast 12 inches.  The discount offer, which was good for any day of the show but had to be purchased on Monday, clinched our decision.

The theme of this year's show was ARTiculture (art + horticulture).  Most years, the displays seem to have only the most tenuous connection to the theme, but this year the designers really took it to heart.  My favorite display is depicted in the image at the top of the post - a backyard garden incorporating sculpture and plant material.  The design is bold and has clean, distinct, uncluttered lines.  Exactly to my taste.

Another of my favorites was a joint effort between the Brandywine Conservancy, a regional land trust, and a garden designer.  The Brandywine valley, located 20 miles west of Philadelphia, was the home of the Wyeth family, including such well-known artists as Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth.  The conservancy's exhibit incorporated a facsimile of a portion of Andrew Wyeth's painting studio into native woodlands.  The design also included the most natural-looking artificial stream I have ever seen in my life.  Another impressive achievement.       
Andrew Wyeth's studio in the woods
Native woodland garden outside Wyeth's studio
Much less ambitious but equally delightful was a small display created by the Hudson Valley Seed Library.  This non-profit organization is dedicated to saving, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds.  In addition - and this is the good part - they sponsor a contest for artists to create paintings based on the heirloom flowers and fruits, and then the Seed Library incorporates the winning artwork into the seed packets they offer for sale.  The Library's display included both the winning artwork and the seed packets that resulted from that artwork.  What a great idea!  The Library had also set-up a booth in the vendors' area where they were selling the seeds.  I bought some basil, chard, and Tiny Tim Tomato seeds. 
Hudson Valley Seed Library's art-inspired seed packs


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

We're really having spring in winter here - though my garden sadly bears no resemblance to any of the entries at the show! Have a good weekend.

Carolyn H said...

Very cool, Scott. I keep saying i'm going to go to the flower show but have yet to make it there. Thanks for sharing!

robin andrea said...

I love the idea of "ART-iculture" and this show looks beautiful and quite well done. Such a great idea!

Mark P said...

That kind of thing is a real advantage to living near a big city. How do you protect garden plant from the deer?

Scott said...

John: Our temperatures have moderated, too, but I wouldn't call it spring yet. Plus, there's still plenty of snow on the ground and it's melting, so we're in for several weeks of mud, I'm afraid. Alas, my garden, too, looks nothing like the gardens at the flower show.

Scott said...

Carolyn: Kali and I don't go to the show every year, and occasionally we're privileged to be invited as guests of the university where I teach if the university hosts a faculty & alumni reception (which they did not do this year). But, I have to admit that this year's show was among the better we have attended. The cost certainly is off-putting ($32 at the door; $27 + "processing fee" with advance purchase).

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: I was skeptical about the ARTiculture theme when announced, but it DID work out well. More than the usual number of display gardens seemed to be well-designed and appealing--but maybe Kali and I are just suffering from delayed onset spring fever!

Scott said...

Mark: Few gardens in this area look anything like the fanciful display at the Flower Show because (1) the Flower Show displays often include a wide variety of plants with differing flowering phenologies forced into bloom to accommodate the show schedule (e.g., a daffodil blooming next to a purple-headed coneflower), and (2) there are no deer. Real-life gardens around here tend to be very modest affairs with a limited palette because of the deer, or a few people erect deer fencing around their entire properties if they're serious about gardening.