Philadelphia Flower Show Draws Some Ooh La La!

March 13, 2011 by

A planted car in The Auto Salvage Garden, created by Delaware Valley College.

With Edith Piaf ‘s La Vie en Rose in the air, it was Springtime in Paris this year at the Philadelphia International Flower Show, the world’s oldest and largest indoor flower show, whose debut in 1829 introduced the poinsettia to the American public.

Having lived there for a short time, Paris holds a special place in my heart. With only one day to indulge, I swept through the massive crowds accompanied by friends, Allison White, who serves as Chair of the Garden & Grounds Committee for The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, and Nancy Moon, of Moon PR, consultant for the museum’s Garden & Grounds Committee.

The sheer numbers of people –like the Paris metro at rush hour–kept me from meeting up with fellow bloggers, friends Kylee Baumle of Our Little Acre and one of The Soil Sisters, and The Casual Gardener‘s Shawna Coronado. In her post post about this year’s show, Kylee said she liked what she saw, but indicated that some visitors were disappointed. I was not. I went without expectations in order to absorb whatever nuggets of inspiration I could.

I was excited to meet the folks from City Planter, a Philadelphia container garden store, whose creative displays featured some of my favorite designs like Off the Wall planters, and some others that I had not yet seen, like the delicate glass wall planters below.

City Planter offered some inspiration for mixing plants in containers. Keep this mind as you consider entering our upcoming Think Outside the Planter Box Photo Contest for a chance to win a Lechuza self-irrigating container!

Marvin Gardens (who won the Blue Ribbon for Best Retail Exhibit) planted in, of course, galvanized French flower buckets.

When space is scarse, it’s great to find containing hanging systems that enable you to cultivate your balcony walls or fences:

For those with enough space, I really liked the over-the-top scale of Jatex International’s giant watering can planter:

As you can imagine, there were loads of topiaries. In keeping with the Paris theme, Rodin’s Thinker:

This reminded me something I experienced in Paris gazing through the glass to the inner courtyard of the Musée du Quai Branly–looking at the world and this show through rose colored glasses:

A planted bike…

One of my favorites was the Smith & Hawken for Target display. Target rarely misses when it comes to design. They found an imaginative way to mix a branded green wall with a hanging display of their garden furniture:

Cardboard cutouts of individuals (and a dog) in the garden with the brand’s various products. Nice watering can.

Personal expression

A favorite hat with a double-entendre on the Moulin Rouge in Paris and Dutch windmills:

How some creative folks brought their own color along:

La mode–lots of Parisian fashion flair amid a mélange of French symbols including baguettes in a Louis Vuitton bag. Alors!

And there was also what some would consider the height of fantasy. This terrace had it all, a state of the art outdoor kitchen, fireplace, multiple seating areas, and even a flat screen TV–something I would personally not want outdoors. Isn’t there enough to absorb outside without television too?

This vendor gets my award for best company name:

Inspiration from Henri Matisse. When he was six years old, I took my son to an exhibit of Matisse paper cut outs at the Museum of Modern Art. “Wow!” he shouted a little too loudly, referring (although he did not really know it) to the negative space images. “This artist was very smart. He used the stuff he was going to throw away to make more art.”

Regular readers of Urban Gardens will understand why the Old Eagle Garden Club shop windows installation, below, was one of my favorites. Using these chairs, Rippov and Revive made a personal statement rooted in designer Rippov’s past. As the exhibit’s signage explained, “Rene Rippov was the son of a French mother and a Russian father. His family left Moscow and settled in Paris when Rene was a young boy. From an early age he was surrounded by fine furniture and beautiful materials and reveled in his family’s upholstery shop.”

Urban Influences Galore
There was a whole lot of graffiti and urban grunge utilized throughout the show. Some as thematic tools, some to promote causes like urban agriculture and food justice.

The Auto Salvage Garden’s clever signage circled their exhibit, illustrating their efforts at raising awareness about transforming and revitalizing brownfield sites into urban parks, gardens, farms, and art spaces.

The planted salvaged car can been spotted through the gates.

The American Institute of Floral Designers also incorporated elements of urban grunge into their Paris Underground installation. Glass tubes holding stems covered graffiti plastered walls.

And, below, a hybrid of industrial tubing blended with real flowers and unidentified bits…kind of mimics that which we find on city streets.

Whatever…but they did stick to the theme.

Sustainable Ideas

The outside of Écolibrium featured a green roof and planted signage representing the word éco: Temple University Ambler Landscape Architecture and Horticulture students created Écolibrium –French Traditions/Modern Interpretations, an exhibit intended to blend and create synergy between the natural landscape, architecture, landscape design, horticulture, art, and sustainability.

According to Baldev Lamba, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, the goal of the Écolibrium exhibit was to “promote ideas of sustainability while creating memorable design expressions that are inspired by French garden and French art traditions.”

The exhibit received the Bulkley Medal of the Garden Club of America, an honor that the university’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture exhibits have received two years in a row.

The Bulkley Medal is awarded to a special exhibit in the fields of horticulture, botany, or conservation and “must be one of exceptional educational merit, which increases the knowledge and awareness of the viewing public,” according to Flower Show organizers. One medal is presented each year across all of the competitive classes at the Flower Show.

Perhaps the perfect image with which to bid au revoir: A green roof over a beautifully lit covered allée lent enough ambiance that I imagined for a few moments that I had crossed the Atlantic. A bientôt (see you soon!)


  1. Hotel in Brugge said:

    Nice Pics and beautiful Flowers . really creative your recently post and amazing your post .

    — March 14, 2011 @ 04:30

  2. Outdoor Garden Furniture said:

    Your post is really a very nice and informative post.. The pics are awesome related to the garden.. I love each and every pic of this post.. I am glad to visit here..

    — March 14, 2011 @ 07:26

  3. antique_buyer said:

    Authentic Provence offers the most distinctive in regards to the tradition and authentic French lifestyle. All garden antiques, planters and French limestone fountains and French limestone mantels are imported from France, Italy and England and are of highest quality. They offer an extensive inventory here in the US thereby eliminating delivery time delays with shipping provided by reliable transport companies across the US, the Caribbean and Canada. They have very friendly, knowledgeable and effective customer service. The owners are European and Wolfgang is an actual Art Historian. They also can study a specific request and if needed have the items custom made to the clients specification. Visit for more information.

    — March 17, 2011 @ 19:03

  4. Mom said:

    J Downend did an Excellant Job Congratulations

    — March 22, 2011 @ 16:11

  5. cheapconservatories said:

    The flower show was simply splendid. Some pictures just left me without words. I wish I could see it personally. Anyways thanks a lot for sharing the pictures with us. I love the Rodin thinker, and many more. It’s an art show indeed.

    — September 29, 2011 @ 05:58

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