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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show 2017: Just a Peek

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“There’s no shortage of art in this city or in there.”

My tour guide friend’s words as he came out of the Flower Show are no exaggeration, and I can definitely say that this year’s Flower Show easily beats out last year’s rather lackluster national parks–themed displays.

I tried my hand at identifying the varieties of tulip — sources often break down Tulipa into 15 or so main categories. The following I tentatively ID’d, the Fringed variety being my absolute favorite. See if you can find them all at the Flower Show!

Of course, you won’t find the original “Rembrandt” variety of Tulipa, those tulips that looked as though they had been artfully painted by…well, not Rembrandt, because he didn’t paint flowers. But let’s say Monet.

The breath-taking, streaked tulips we see in paintings of old were a result of a virus, which, although it made beautiful and valuable, sought-after bulbs during the height of Tulipmania, made the flower’s stem weak and stunted and is now no longer commercially available. (But thanks to genetic modification and cultivation, a similar kind is available.)

While I went around and tried to identify the main varieties of tulips, I was also excited to see in real life plants I’ve only seen in pictures, such as Gaura lindheimeri, Snakeshead Fritillary, Trifolium repens, some beautiful California cedars, and more.

Later this week, I’ll explore more with my family the educational exhibits, such as the “Ecodome” and smaller terrarium and sculpture displays. In the meantime, if you’re in need of something indoors and with a burst of color, head to the Convention Center before the show ends this Sunday (and stop at the Independence Visitor Center to get discounted tickets!).

 

 

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Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

March 14, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Post Philly Flower Show Review

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The highly anticipated 2016 Philadelphia Flower Show has come and gone, and so suddenly it seems.

Being that it was my first, I’ve no basis for comparison, but I can pick out the highlights that made the event worthwhile for the 30 bucks I didn’t pay (thanks, part-time job perks!).

Big Timber Lodge

Big Timber Lodge

Big Timber Lodge

At the entry of massive Hall A was Big Timber Lodge, an impressive, rustic wooden-beam structure stretching loftily to the Convention Center rafters. Beneath the beam-hung floral chandeliers were ferns and fading columbines galore among the pines.

Wooden-cage animal models such as bison and maybe elk (a new species of elk unsure of its decisions in life) featured throughout the exhibition, stuffed and draped with twigs, flowers, mosses, and such. Funny how most of the life forced for the Flower Show would wilt well before its natural time — as long as they compost, I’m fine with it!

Pink ColumbinesCHARRED!

One of my favorite exhibits unfortunately had some technological problems and an upsetting lack of information, but as soon as I saw the charred logs at its entrance, I recognized it as a representation of the succession of a forest following a fire.

Go here for a brief overview of succession at Yellowstone National Park.

Rock plantsNatural Landscapes

“These look like they’ve been here for years!” My sister keened to the realistic settings painstakingly installed by Stoney Bank Nurseries (representing Yellowstone National Park), Hunter Hayes Landscape Design (representing Valley Forge National Historical Park), and J. Downend Landscaping, Inc. (representing Arcadia National Park).

HorsesFloral Structure Displays

Well into my third wine and vaguely aware of my need for a proper toilet despite all the natural ones about me, I and my equally wined sister ventured into the space designated for floral sculptures and displays. This blurry display did not impress us, though the flower-stuffed cardboard display, a nod to the natural arches in the aptly named Arches National Park, was quite the photogenic opportunity for visitors.

Foamflower!

Foamflower!

The red flower and glass chandeliers, representing the Chandelier Tree — a 276-foot-tall coast redwood tree in Leggett, California, with a 6-foot-wide-by-6-foot-9-inch-high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through — were a magical and captivating display arranged by the Institute of Floral Designers.

All in all, while it had interest in its tie with the NPS and well-installed natural exhibits, most I spoke with were a bit disappointed by the lack of the “exotic”, some finding that even the natural landscapes were all too familiar. Those same people had been previously wow’ed by the 2012 exhibition, which had a

Floral chandeliers

Floral chandeliers

Hawaii theme, and the 2015 movies-themed exhibition (which would’ve been so timely considering this month’s new Pixar exhibit at Franklin Institute!).

Even still, I hope the Flower Show helped to highlight the importance of our national parks and encourage parents to in turn encourage their kids to become Junior Rangers — I watch kids come to the NPS desk at the Independence Visitor Center and see how excited they are when they stamp their Passport Books and take the oath to become part of the great program.

Floral and cardboard arches

Floral and cardboard arches

For those looking for more botanical adventures, I can’t recommend enough Morris Arboretum, located a bit out of the way north of Philadelphia but entirely worth the effort getting there. This sanctuary of trees features a gorgeous, shady Katsura and an equally gargantuan Blue Spruce, one of the most amazing miniature railroads I’ve ever seen and, just as so, the most amazing herb and rose garden, and a number of fascinating ground plants like a favorite species of mine, Epimedium.

Beautiful hanging Abutilon

Beautiful hanging Abutilon

Worth visiting as well are the native plants of Bartram’s Garden and, of course, the east coast’s premier plant palace,  Longwood Gardens. I’ve also been impressed by Scott Arboretum out in Delaware County, part of Swarthmore College, about 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

The 2016 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

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This month in Philadelphia, the International Flower Show will kick off from March 5—13 with this year’s theme “Explore America”, and I’ll not only be working there as part of my job but also visiting with my arch nemesis/biological sister.

I have high expectations for this year and have been researching the flora found in the parks being represented at the botanical bonanza event celebrating “100 years of National Park Service”. Well, in fact, I’ve made up a list of the fantastical flora I hope to be on display from the parks chosen to be a part of the show:

Yosemite National Park

Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea)

Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea)

Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea)

Crimson Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)

Harlequin Lupine (Lupinus stiversii)

Valley Forge National Park

Nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum)

Spotted Wintergreen/Pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculate)

Indian cucumber-root (Medeola virginiana)

Nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum)

Nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum)

Yellowstone National Park

Striped Coral-Root (Corallorhiza striata)

Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa)

Hooded Ladies-Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis)

Other parks being highlighted include Acadia and Cape Cod, Shenandoah, and “everything from the Everglades to Hawaii’s Volcano National Park”, according to The Trentonian, a New Jersey publication that seems to have a better idea of what’s going on in Philadelphia than the adolescent-led Philadelphia Business Journal.

Striped Coral-Root (Corallorhiza striata)

Striped Coral-Root (Corallorhiza striata)

My dream list above is far from what I really think will be featured at the event, which will most likely boast the usual display of chrysanthemums,

But perhaps this is also a chance for the Park Service to demonstrate what it is they actually do and its illustrious and hard-fought history in preserving America’s lands home to these botanical beauties.

Also: Read an article by a Flower Show veteran and exhibitor here.

Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

March 2, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Pilea, not Urtica & Plants vs Bedbugs

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The serrated leaves of Pilea pumila, NOT Urtica dioica

The serrated leaves of Pilea pumila, NOT Urtica dioica

I am not without sin and error. And sometime ago, during my heady days as a gardener extraordinaire in Delaware County, I came upon a sun-speckled clearing of the plant pictured above. Though I did run into a thicket of nasty Urtica dioica, or Stinging Nettle, this photo is actually of an entirely different plant that spread over the forest floor nearby and is often mistaken for the more prickly kind within the very same Urticaceae clan.

Not a grave mistake, given I’m alive and well enough to barely maintain this blog, but merely one that could leave you with hours of painful itching. Or, if you’re me, slight sadomasochistic pleasure for the better part of an hour after coming into contact with the hairy pricks — or trichomes, if you’d rather — of the plant.

It’s really these trichomes that are my real fascination, despite my wrongful identification, and they harken back to my personal terrible experience linked to a nearly indestructible critter that plagued New York City and my own Astoria apartment in 2012: bedbugs.

Dewy trichomes of Drosera

Dewy trichomes of Drosera

Trichomes can be found in a number of plants and in various forms, including that in the remarkable Drosera, or sundew, species. In the form they appear in nettles, however, they act more as Velcro, albeit with more deadly consequences. According to a rather unique study done in 2013, trichomes pierce the bugs’ legs, whereas Velcro (which incidentally was inspired by the plant Burdock) only (often temporarily) snags them.

People of the Balkans utilized the microscopic trichomes of the bean plant to pierce and prevent infestation of bed bugs. Knowing, however, of the pervasiveness and near indestructible nature of bed bugs from my unfortunate experience in New York, you’d need a hell of a lot of plant trichomes to get rid of these nasty buggers.

Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

February 12, 2016 at 11:25 pm