Philadelphia Flower Show: "Where Is It Headed?"

hunt4carlJanuary 9, 2014

O.K. Now that I have your attention. . .

As a member of PHS (the organization that produces
the show), the following video popped up in my mailbox
today. You, the NE Forum, are the largest collective of
gardeners that I know, with wildly (and wonderfully!) differing opinions on a multitude of subjects.

So: take a look. . . and let's hear your reactions,
especially from the point of view of GARDENERS. . .



Here is a link that might be useful: Preview of The Philadelphia International Flower Show

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Carl, just one person's opinion, but for me, if that is the direction they are going, I feel they've gone off the tracks. I can try and see it in a more positive way, but it's a stretch for me. Yes, I see flower material as a great basic ingredient in crafts, such as dried flower arrangements, fresh flower arranging, wreathes, dried leaf artwork framed, but this video presentation seems to have gone way past that.

I was left with the impression that someone must be getting bored with gardening. (g) It also made me think of the Rose Parade where an industry grew up around using flowers to make floats. Something I don't feel has anything to do with gardening.

I can see gardeners experimenting with some of this as a 'portion' of the show, with a class or a presentation or two, but to make the entire show about it as a 'theme', just doesn't work for me.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 3:17PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Ahhhh.... whaaaat? Sadly, Carl, this video did nothing to inspire me to actually want to visit this year's Philadelphia Flower Show. I am so sorry if my comments upset you, but I guess honest opinions were what you wanted.

The theme is ARTiculture: Where Art Meets Horticulture. Why is the word "art" all in caps?

Is the purpose of this year's show to dovetail art from the various museums mentioned (very quickly in this video) with plant life... that is themed horticulture that connects with known pieces of art? Or will the art be a springboard for the designs of the displays? Is this mostly an art show, accented with horticulture? Will music, dance and other creative art forms also be part of this show?

I'm with PM2. This is confusing --- kind of like an MTV-inspired flower event. Hopefully further information about this show will clarify what folks will see when they visit.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 3:39PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I'll go one step farther than Molie - this video guarantees that I wouldn't even consider going to the Philadelphia Flower Show this year. This kind of loud, frenetic presentation says that the actual displays are going to be tasteless and tacky.

I think they probably could do some interesting correlation between art and horticulture but they're sure not indicating it here. This sounds like dying flowers magenta and calling it art.

Claire (exaggerating a bit, but the music really offends me)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 5:33PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Oh, Carl, I'm sorry. I know how much the show meant to you in the past. Have to ask, did the person writing the check for this advertising consider just how many shooters the Shooters, Inc. company had had when they hiccuped out this slop? Seems to me that Shooters, Inc. and the committee in charge forgot the demographics of the show's attendees. Boomers can bounce with orthotics in place and septuagenarians and octos have cash, but Lord have mercy, the music alone would kill my 38 year old schefflera.

If the advertising intent is purposely to attract much younger people, I wish them well. But I think someone forgot where the money is, honey: It's in the hands of the people with gray hair. I think Shooters was shot.

It'll be interesting to see if we're all too critical, but that's my take. It doesn't work for me.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 7:30PM
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Carl - I generally modify my GW comments so as not to offend anyone but since the video offended me, I feel as though I'm excused from modifying my comments. I'm sorry to be blunt/judgmental but the video is offensive, not just in its art but in its music.

Yes, I'm a senior but I love music and am not prejudiced against hip-hop or other genres. Label me narrow-minded but I am prejudiced against garbage when it's served up as art.

Gardening (for me at least) has always been a serene & relaxing pastime as opposed to the random, frenetic activity symbolized/suggested by the video & music. Gardening to the rhythm of that music suggests the gardener needs illegal controlled substances in order to achieve his/her goals.

Gardening in its purist form suggests the gardener enjoys & savors the serenity and satisfaction a garden engenders & sustains, season after season. Gardening as the video & music suggests nothing even approaching what most gardeners consider their garden goals.

I apologize for the negative comments but exonerate them based on your request for honest feedback.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:02PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Okay, I'll admit to reading all the comments here BEFORE viewing the video, so I was intrigued. And I watched the video.

I was not at all offended - while the video moved a tad too quickly for me, I'm finding that most videos do these days, lol, so I think that's me not the video! I thought it was bright, colorful, upbeat, and the music was fun.


I'm a bit confused. After all that, I'm not sure exactly what the premise of the show is! Okay, be inspired, be beautiful, be colorful - but by whom? in what way? how? By art? Okay... but I'm still not quite sure what exactly will be going on at this particular show - except more of the same as usual, going by their photos of what I can only assume to be are past events.

I'm guessing that there might be art pieces replicated with flowers, or displays of flowers based on art pieces, and it does bring to mind what someone above mentioned about the Rose Bowl floats.... but is this at the expense of other gardening stuff, or does it complement and enhance them? It could be very interesting to see garden design based on impressionist painters, etc., but I'm not sure that's what will be happening.

And God help me, I have no idea what those people hanging from ropes had to do with anything, lol!

So, IMO, the video was all fluff and no substance. It drew me in, but left me wondering.

Maybe I'm just missing something here.... and I may be hampered here by only having been to the Philly show as a ten-year-old, on a bus trip with her grandparents, and as a ten-year-old who had no interest in gardening and whose trip highlight was driving by the liberty bell on the bus...

What's YOUR take Carl? I'm curious....


    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:47PM
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Hot Damn!

Your reactions thus far are exactly what I hoped for,
so, I'm NOT completely nuts to find this tasteless and
offensive (as a serious gardener).

Now let's sit back and see what others have to add. . .


    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:05AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

No, we all know you're far from nuts, Carl. Your question stirred a memory, and for what it's worth... Nearly 50 years ago I went to a floral design school and being chosen to work the Hartford Show was considered a 'lucky' student bonus. Try calloused fingers and sore feet, but the ad for the 2014 Phil. show made me remember what our instructor had said then: 'The Hartford show is nice, but if you want REAL design, NY and especially, Philadelphia are the creme de la creme shows'. Here's my point; if it was about floral design then, how is it different now? Paraphrasing Goethe, it's easier to judge than to understand, so I asked myself how I would change the ad to promote floral design creativity (not gardening) and I'm still working on an answer. T'aint that easy to appeal to all age groups, and in the current ad, I only saw one gray head. Looks like the grays are not the ad's target audience.

We went to the show in 2011, the Paris theme, and it was totally about floral design. Sure, some booths on soil and seeds, but overall, the focus is design. Two people, train from Hartford, one night in a regular hotel, cheap eats, it was still $600 for a 48 hour trip. It was my first time visiting the show and afterward, I said I wouldn't do it again. Glad I went, but once was enough. I'm thinking that as a gardener, I was unimpressed because it's mostly about the flower and what to do with the flower. As a former design student, Philly is over-the-top design and the long gone floral design instructor was right -on the East coast, Philadelphia design unbeatable; on the West coast, it's San Francisco.

As a gardener, I don't pick many of the flowers I grow. There's bound to be a fun psychological premise here, but it's all about the joy of seeing it grow and blossom-(gardening), not the use of the flower for short time enjoyment- (floral design). This year's ad is for the next generation, and my rather negative response to the ad is definitely an age thing.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:10AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Hmm, maybe I'm not as serious a gardener as I thought I was, lol, but I'm a little surprised at the words "tasteless" and "offensive" being used.

Just curious why everyone is so offended...? I agree the show itself might not be what we want in a gardening show, and perhaps the show has fallen off in quality over the years (just speculating, as because mentioned above, my experience with this particular show is limited), but why the offense taken at the video? Honestly I see things on tv, in print, on billboards, etc., a hundred times a day that are truly more offensive and tasteless than this little colorful, upbeat video.

Or is the offense taken not at the video itself, but the direction the show is taking? And if so, should we truly be "offended", or just sad?

Personally I think the promoters of this show, like every other event or function that goes on in any field, are just trying to keep things fresh and new and innovative. I'm not agreeing with them, or supporting them, or saying they are going in the right direction, just thinking about what their motivation is.

I get the feeling that they don't really have their finger on the pulse of serious gardeners, or maybe they do and they think we are cheap and they want to draw in a new demographic. After all, it's not really about gardening, but about putting on a successful (i.e. money-making) show, is it not? PHS, like any non-profit organization, when organizing these huge undertakings, has to have a successful show to ensure their survival. I know from personal experience that we often expect non-profits to be there for us and to do all this great stuff but we don't always support them as we should, and so they have to find ways to bring in new supporters, and reach out to a wider audience. Doesn't matter how old or how prestigious the non-profit is, they are all hurting for money, and perhaps they are just trying to bring their mission to a wider audience.

Just thinking out loud....


    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:49AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Carl, I suspected that you already had a negative opinion that you were hoping was confirmed, which I'm glad about, so that our responses have not troubled you. :-)

I have never been to the Philadelphia Show. I would be very disappointed, if the show's focus is on 'floral design' because when I've gone to the Boston and Hartford shows, it is the last section I would visit. I go for the landscape displays.

Like Jane, I bring very few bouquets into the house over the growing season. I have to bring in lilacs in the spring. I'll cut a single rose for the kitchen counter. I would like to have enough room to have a separate border to raise plants for dried flowers, which would last a long time, but my small garden has a hard enough time looking lush without picking the flowers.

But really, I don't think it's about whether any of us like floral design or not, to me it's whether a Garden Show, is about Gardening and Garden design, rather than Floral Design. If they prefer the focus to be about Floral Design, I think they should change the name of the show to the Floral Design Show. Otherwise, in a garden show, floral design should be a small, minor part. Even if they are trying to attract a younger audience, attract them to what? Floral or Garden Design?

And this phrase that they invented ARTiculture…lol. I tried to see some example of what they were referring to in the images speeding by, and all I could catch, was a gold frame mirror, that they applied a row of yellow flowers to the bottom and a few women and kids making bouquets for their heads. It was actually pretty comical. How young is the audience they are targeting, 8 yrs old? (g)

And the content of the show is my main concern, but the video that advertises the show, well, that merits special attention. If I had paid for that advertising I would want a refund. I found it highly flawed and low budget. Clearly someone in the organization likes it enough to use it, so to each his own, is all I can say. I wasn't planning on going to the show, but based on this ad, if I were, I would change my plans.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 10:12AM
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Count me as the minority. The video actually intrigued me. Yes it was loud. Yes it was fast. Yes I needed some headache medicine after I watched it. But it intrigued me. I know some on this forum do not consider me a serious gardener, and I know I'm probably on the younger side of the regulars here. And I have to admit that I've never been to a garden show before. But I love the idea of a show where you can be creative with flowers - turn flowers into art. Turn gardens into art. Mix art into the gardens. A show where I would be in awe saying "wow - those are flowers." Personally I have no desire to go to a garden show and sit thru lectures on soil composition, or organic weed control, or 1000 varieties of hosta and counting, or the new varieties of whatever plant. I have no idea if that is what a typical garden show is about. But from the limited garden show reviews I've read, that is my impression. Then again, I'm the person who thought Green Animals Topiaries in Rhode Island was the coolest garden I ever visited.

Will I visit the Philadelphia flower show. No. Only because Philly is so far away. If the show was in New England, I would probably go.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 2:36PM
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My take is pretty similar to those expressed above, though I found it mildly obnoxious rather than offensive. The video was less about content than about style, and as such was not in my mind a quality ad for anything. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but I think an ad should make me want to find out further about the product, and this didn't - it was just confusing.

I've always thought it would be fun to visit the Philidelphia Flower Show, but in all honesty, if it doesn't have great garden vignettes and great speakers, I wouldn't want to go, and this certainly doesn't tell me what I need to know in order to decide. It doesn't even prompt me to look up this year's speakers, so for me it fails as publicity.

That said, I do find the interaction between art and horticulture interesting. This past winter I went to a display at the Boston Museum of Art that had flower arrangements set up adjacent to the art works that had inspired them. It was rather fun, though since it was all over the museum, I found myself spending more time in several of the galleries and didn't get to all of the art and flower pairings.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 2:50PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Glad to find additional comments on this thread!

It appears that most of us were on the same page about the confusing focus of this show--- because, as nhbabs just wrote, the video was ‘less about content than about style.” I watched the video several times but didn’t learn anything about what I’d see there. More specific information was found on the PHS/PFS homepage where I checked event items on the top bar.

For example:
“the entrance exhibit of ‘ARTiculture’ is inspired by the paintings and sculptures of Alexander “Sandy” Calder, a member of the historic family of artists whose works are found throughout Philadelphia, and will feature a remarkable aerial dance troupe who will perform above and within the multi-dimensional display. Visitors to the Flower Show will be able to walk through the exhibit and become part of the art.” (That explains the dangling dancers in the video.)

I wouldn’t call the video “offensive”, just not very informative. I agree with Dee that the promoters of the show were probably trying to jazz it up to increase its appeal and therefore went with an advertising company that provided them a “colorful, upbeat video.” But as a piece of advertisement, the video is too frenetic and not informative. Then again, maybe the Philadelphia Flower Show is trying to reinvent itself. Carl, would you care to discuss that point?

For me, the Philadelphia International Flower Show is a long, expensive trip from Connecticut. I’d have to have a good reason to go. This video didn’t give me one.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 4:41PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Dee, I didn’t see your post until I posted. You make a good point about the promoters of the show, may be just trying to keep it fresh and innovative. I am just responding to whether or not it was successful in that regard as far as I am concerned, and it wasn’t. And it occurs to me that the video advertisement may reflect a lack of funds to produce something more effective.

I’ve never been involved in a show like that, so I have no experience to draw on, to explain their motivation or goals. I don’t fault them for their goals or intentions, I can only report on, again, the success of their efforts. The advertisement was too loud and too fast and gave too little of the important information to determine what the show will really be about, and to decide whether to go or not. The information they did present, did push me in the direction away from being interested in the show.

Pixie Lou, I’m surprised to hear you say some don’t consider you a serious gardener. I, for one, don’t find myself thinking in terms of who is or isn’t a serious gardener. And I enjoy your contributions to the forum. I didn’t know you were on the younger side, but that’s a good thing. I’m definitely not and I realize a number of others aren’t either. It’s nice to have fresh blood. :-) And I love topiaries too.

Babs, that exhibit at the Museum of Art sounded very interesting. I remember seeing an ad for it and I never made it there.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Well, since I love art, and went to the Worcester Museum of Art this past year to a similar floral imitates art exhibit that Babs went to, I'm actually very intrigued by this. I thoroughly enjoyed the museum exhibit where designers made a floral arrangement using a particular piece of art as their inspiration.

The video didn't do much for me, and I wish there was more information about how the art and flowers will be combined. I've been to a number of flower shows and while I like the landscapes, I really, really enjoy how creative designers can be using floral material. OK, full disclaimer.....I watch the Rose Bowl Parade every year and marvel at the floats!

I rarely cut a stem from my own garden to bring inside, but I love to oooh and aaaah over gorgeous floral designs.

I was close to going to this show four years ago but unfortunately a death in the family had us cancel our trip. Have wanted to go each year since but timing was off. I'm intrigued enough about this that I've checked dates and tomorrow will be asking my mom if she's in the mood for a weekend in Philly!
Guess I'm in the minority on this one!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 10:55PM
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O.K. Now I have to come clean with a bit of background:

First off, I'm a "garden show" junky. . .as a very tiny tot,
I cut my teeth on the Boston Flower Show at the grand
old Mass, Horticultural Hall. . .most kids had to be dragged to those shows, but to me, it was pure magic. When I ended up at Temple University in the 60's, I quickly discovered the Philadelphia Flower Show, fell head over heels. and this March will mark the 44th edition of this venerable behemoth that I've had the pleasure of attending.

Now, there’s ONE thing I can say with absolute certainty:
the whole world of garden shows has changed, forever.
We’re never going back to that extraordinary period when the major “top drawer” nurseries in the Delaware Valley region proudly competed with each other to earn “Most Creative”, “Best in Show”, etc. for their lavish creations of over-the-top gardens and landscapes. . it’s way too labor intensive (which costs money), the cost of raw materials has sky-rocketed (more money), there’s far less payback (loss of money), and the labor unions (sad to say) have
basically “killed the golden goose”(still more money). . .

While it saddens me to see it go, I am constantly thanking my lucky stars that it was there for me to wallow in at the time. . .and very fondly remember. Accepting the fact that change occurs, of course, doesn’t mean that I have to go along. . .it simply means I get to make choices: do I go, or do I move on to something else. This gets tricky, because as some of you pointed out, aspects of what was being offered actually interested you. . .and from my recent visits, I have to agree that “some” of these newer additions ARE interesting. While I draw the line at the “Bridal Fashion Parade” (lots of flowers, but not for me!) and the aggressively
glitzy “party planner” exhibits (nada!), some of the uses of plants as part of architecture last year were superb !

By sharing that video promo with you, I was not so subtly
underlining the very CHANGE that’s underway. . .the PHS had a single director for 29 years, until she retired in 2010, a remarkable woman named Jane Pepper. Under her skillful guidance, she managed to revitalize the whole organization, including the Flower Show - membership virtually doubled during her tenure, she helped to raise millions of dollars, and she nurtured PHS into it’s present role as the undisputed leader in re-greening Philadelphia: dozens and dozens of neighborhood parks and vegetable gardens have emerged, there’s a current goal to plant one
million tress in the city over the next five years, and PHS has “pop-up” cafes and shops spreading their love of horticulture far and wide.

So, I simply love PHS and all they do. . .it’s just that their
very visible flagship called the Philadelphia International
Flower Show doesn’t necessarily represent. to the broader general public, all the great work they do locally. Or does it? For those who may not know, these huge (and frequently stunning) exhibitions about all things floral (and which represent the biggest change we’re talking about), actually only make up a third of the show; another third is all the local competitions amongst amateur (!) area gardeners (potted creations of every
size and scope), and unique “judged” competitions, wherein 4 to 6 pre-selected groups present their very personal take on “Front Porches at the Jerey Shore” or “Non-Traditional Vegetable Gardens” or my absolute favorite from a few years bacK: “A Gentleman’s
Cravat (a necktie, no less!) Crafted Exclusively from Plant Materials, Including at Least One Flower”. . .you wouldn’t have believed the creative solutions offered up ! The final third of the Flower Show is the ubiquitous Marketplace, which offers up hundreds of booths, teeming with everything from seeds to stone sculpture to floral prints, but so far, at least, EVERYTHING has had to have a horticultural link. . .but like so many other trade shows these days, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them soon selling insurance and all manner of unrelated gadgets. At the dubious New Jersey Flower &
Garden Show the last five years, they have actually had exhibits selling CARS. . .and they didn’t even have the grace
(or humor) to stick a stem of gladiolas in the tailpipes !

This promotional video, then, kind of represents some of
the more abrasive changes that are taking place at the
Philadelphia Flower Show. . .I was simply curious to see
how an (admitted) group of gardeners would respond to
it, and you have outdone yourselves with a splendidly diverse range of opinions. . .

Thanks for putting up with my long-winded soap-box oration!


    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:07PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thyme2dig, it is so interesting to hear different points of view. It had not occurred to me that some gardeners might get enough of the landscaping end of gardening and be ready for the more creative part, working with plant material. I can see that, especially for you, since you’ve been gardening so long and have visited so many gardens.

Carl, fascinating story about your background. In contrast, I think I’ve been to the Boston Flower show about a half dozen times and that’s it. And what you’ve said about the cost of putting on these shows becoming too much along with too little payback, makes sense. I actually used to wonder about the amount of effort it had to take to create some of these displays. All the preparation for months to get flowers to bloom early and the logistics and equipment to get everything, including huge boulders into place. Although I’m sure some people found it a fascinating challenge.

Well, if there would be a lack of landscape displays, then I guess they have to go in a different direction. I do remember one display from the last show I attended, that was a series of front doorways, with different pots and wreaths on the door, etc. I loved that and it seemed a lot easier to accomplish than an entire landscape. So, I’m sure they will come up with something to take it’s place.

I guess we will all have to adapt and visit more ‘real’ gardens in person during the growing season, like the 'Open Days' programs.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:38AM
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That's it, Prairie Moon. . .the perfect answer to this
"change" is to visit more "real" gardens, JUST like
the Open Days program, one of my other soap box

But, as one of the posters pointed out, these garden
shows always appeared at the time of year when we most needed them -the dead of winter. Another solution would be to visit (or even join) one of the botanical
gardens that has extensive conservatories. . .which
is exactly why I just rejoined one of my old favorites,
the New York Botanical Garden: spent two blissful
hours reading in the "rain forest", enjoyed one of the
last days of their annual Train Show, and sipped my
tea while wandering in the "South African Desert". It's
certainly as good as any Flower Show!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:54PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Oh, that's right, good point about the time of year when everyone is looking for a 'green' fix. That is a good idea to join a conservatory, Carl. Sounds really enjoyable and relaxing. And I imagine with your history of getting to the Flower Show every year for so long, you really need to find something equally inspiring to visit.

I haven't managed to do anything like that in a long time. But, I can wait for spring and I am really going to try to get to Open Days this year. I've never been to the New York Botanical Garden and I hope I can get there this June to see the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden which is 'no spray'. And I want to get to the Arnold Arboretum in the spring. If I could do all that, I would be more than satisfied. :-)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 2:59PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

This has been a really fun and interesting thread! Thanks so much for starting this Carl! And thank you to everyone who participated and shared their thoughts. I really enjoyed this discussion.

popping a few soap bubbles.....

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:02PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I went searching for a list of American public gardens and came up with the National Garden Association locator. Not sure if there is a more extensive, comprehensive list, but this may be of value and worthy of a Bookmark.

And the NYBG is going to have a display covering Women Designed Gardens, so go to for more info.


Here is a link that might be useful: Public Gardens Locator

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:05PM
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I too read the entire thread before watching the video. Obviously, they are trying to attract a young, very young, demographic. Where the video really fails is in telling me anything about what's going on at the show.

I have been to the Philly show twice--once 20 years ago when it was fabulous, especially the "amateur" hort section with amazing plants grown in estate greenhouses and by serious plant-lovers throughout the area. I attended again 10 years ago and the show had already begun to decline tho was still very good.

I attended the Mass Hort show every single year from the late 70s to its demise. I've only attended the new version twice because it is so hard to get to and to park.

I've also participated in the Mass Hort show in its glory days and judged a number of times as well in the landscape design section so I am prejudiced but I did prefer Mass Hort over PHS.

The floral design plus fine art concept was invented in the 1970s here in Boston by volunteers at the Museum of Fine Arts, most of them garden club members. It's called Art in Bloom, occurs every spring and is excellent. The concept has been so successful that it has been copied all over the US.

This post has wandered a bit but the bottom line is that the video did not make me want to see the show and left me mystified as to the show's concept or theme. In that, the video is a failure.
PS--I sent the link to some serious-gardener friends. Will be interested in their take.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 1:55PM
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I skipped the video at first and went directly to the list of presentations. That was a little disappointing, because there were no talks that I really wanted to see - none of my favorite garden writers/designers seem to be participating this year.

I checked the schedule at the PVD show, and there are several talks I'd like to hear - I'll have to look for the Boston show list too. The Philly schedule should have a little more info about who the speakers are - maybe some of them are from the great gardens in the area, which would make them more of a draw (for me, at least), even without familiar names.

The video didn't offend me, but it didn't inspire me either - just a fast paced commercial, without much in the way of content.

I'll be away most of February and early March, so I wouldn't be able to go this year anyway, but if any of my garden 'idols' were speaking at the show, I'd at least feel bad about missing it. I do wish I could get to the PVD show, to hear Warren Leach and Louis Raymond.

Here is a link that might be useful: PVD show talks

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:02PM
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Just to follow up, the Boston show is March 12-16, and the PVD show is Feb 20-23. The list of Boston speakers is linked below.

Both of these pages provide a little info about the speakers, which Philly should do, too, IMHO. Carl, can't you tell them that we need to know who these people are? LOL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Boston Flower and Garden Show Speakers

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:19PM
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We've been telling them for YEARS! You know, I have
noticed the drop-off in recent years of the more, shall
we say, "garden-centric" speakers. . .one can't help
wondering if this isn't party a recognition on the part
of the potential speakers, that these "shows" are becoming more "generic" and fewer hands-on
gardeners are attending. I've sat in on a few lectures
by quite interesting speakers, where there was a mere
handful of people in attendance. . .not exactly an ego
boost, but clearly suggesting that their intended
audience has chosen to skip the show altogether.

Also, you'll note that so many of the speakers these
days have "commercial" connections, so that edifying
lecture becomes something of an "infomercial". . .
I can remember attending a lecture, a few years back, by of all people, Michael Dirr - which I was very much
looking forward to - only to have him make a pitch for
all of "his" hydrangea introductions, with loads of them
available for sale on your way out!

The other "innovation" at the Philadelphia Flower Show
that may cause difficulties attracting more notable
speakers: rather than using the readily available
lecture halls OUTSIDE the main hall, the speakers
now are show-cased in a small open-theatre setting,
which is wide open all the chaos around it,
smack dab in the middle of the exhibition floor! Not
surprisingly, this attracts numerous folks who are just
looking for a place to sit down, but further enables
people to wander in and out at will, a huge distraction
to both the speaker, and those who are there to actually
learn something. Very democratic, to be sure, but not
a situation where I would want to speak on any subject.

Now, I have to go check the speakers list for this year's


    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:48PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Thanks, DtD, for the informative listing. Many interesting speakers --- it's difficult to pick just one day to visit!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 7:59PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

The reason for the "selling" may be that some speakers strike deals with the organizers. Instead of getting paid (or paid as much as they'd like!) to speak, they may be able to bring their books, products, plants, etc. to sell. Just a thought.

That speaking set-up with the central open theatre sounds horrible! Unfair to the listeners and unfair to the speaker! Yikes.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 8:00AM
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So I think the Philadelphia Flower Show started this weekend. Did anyone go, or is anyone planning to go?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:45AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

No, not going to Philadelphia. But if our Boston weather doesn't defrost soon (those glacial moraines of plowed snow out front are not melting), I'm tempted to visit the Boston show March 12-16, just to be able to walk around amongst growing plants.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 9:56AM
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Yes, I'll be heading out to the Philadelphia show
tomorrow and we're planning on our usual eleven-hour
campaign. . .you can expect a full report sometime over
the weekend, as I'll be too exhausted on Friday to lift a
finger to the keyboard.

Amidst all the pre-press and promotion going on, I am
pleased to report that MUCH more mention is being made of how exhibits will interact with various works of
art, especially those of Alexander Calder, a near-native
of Philadelphia, where a vast collection of his work

Stay tuned. . .


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:29PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

To all of you who missed the show.... I did not go either... I've including a link from the LA Times, showing some displays.
A cousin of mine went and enjoyed it. She's not a gardener but loves art.

Carl, I look forward to your impressions of the show.


Here is a link that might be useful: Philadelphia: Garden show, inspired by artistic masterpieces, is in full flower

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Molie: thanks for posting those pictures, becaiuse now I'll
have some reference points:

Sorry to disappoint you folks, but here's the simple answer to the question I posed in this post : "The Philadelphia Flower Show - Where Is It Headed?" "Down The Tubes". . .

Rather than just a snarky observation, let me be more
specific: look at the first photo of Molie's photos in the
reply just above. This was the MASSIVE structure that
confronted you at the entrance: three giant picture
frames ("ARTiculture", get it?) interspersed with GIANT
mobiles (made of plant material, but not noticeably so)
which were meant to resemble the work of Alexander
Calder - who must have been thrashing in his grave.
Given that there are so many of the REAL Calder sculptures and mobiles in the Philadelphia area, why the
need for tacky imitations? It gets worse: the frames and
mobiles are awash in ever-changing colored lights, (rather like a rock show) which renders the original colors of the mobiles pointless; every hour-on-the-hour,
raucous music blares through the space (It was deafening, and you could not escape it) as four
aerialists descend, suspended on cables from the rafters, and proceeded to twist and pose next to the
mobiles - "living" mobiles, I guess? At most shows in
the past that I've attended, people cluster around the entry exhibit and marvel at it . . . in this instance, most
folks were moving away as quickly as possible.

To be fair, some exhibitors really took the theme - ARTiculture - to heart, and there were a few, a VERY few, successful attempts at mirroring art through display;
one of my favorite bulb purveyors, Jacques Armand, a 23-year veteran, captured Mondrian's style perfectly
with crisp, single-colored squares and rectangles of
flowering bulbs, laid out in a huge rectangle of grass.
The huge farm-and-forest landscape by Stoney Bank
Nurseries showed you living models of so many of the
Wyeth family's paintings. . .it was mesmerizing, and wisely co-sponsered by the Brandywine Museum, where
so many of their paintings reside, outside Philadelphia.

But these were the exceptions: everywhere else it was
flash-and-glam. . .I find it hard to believe that people
will actually pay good money for some of garish, over-the-top stuff that so many of these "event planners" and
fancy florists put out (they outnumbered the nursery exhibits for the first time ever!)

The layout was a nightmare - gone were the cleverly
designed pathways that guided you along from one
aisle of displays to the next - now, it was a disorganized
jumble. a logical path abruptly ends and you're forced
left or right, or around a sudden obstacle. We found
ourselves missing things and having to constantly back-
track. Some of the competitive judging has been lifted
out of it's longtime, logical home in the central Horticourt
(where ALL the judged material used to reside) and
scattered amongst the displays in the main hall. It took
my friend and I a few hours to realize WHY all the disarray and confusion - they were trying to hide the
fact that there was so much LESS there than usual. Our
guess was about 25% fewer exhibitors than normal. . .
and the other way they filled unused space: this year,
for the first time, we had not one, not two, but THREE
cars on the display floor! And the completely re-designed Market Place had so much more space. . .
because they had expanded it onto the main floor so
that it now fills nearly 50% of the entire show! And
the long-sacred rule that only products relating to
horticulture could be sold - GONE! - you could find all
manner of gadgets, gizmos, cooking utensils, insurance,
automobiles, alongside fewer than usual plant people
and garden supplies. Our favorite seed shop, carrying
a dozen of the best, and most unique seed companies -
GONE, a piece of history. And the garden bookshop,
a perennial favorite - gone, gone, gone. . .

And where they subtly slipped in just two of them a couple of years ago, there are now 6 - SIX, count 'em - stand-up bars for beer and mixed drinks.

To cap off my day, two friends arrived about 5:00pm to
catch the last four hours of the show; they're a young
couple, eager to see the show I've talked about so much over the years (and I'm helping them create
the gardens at their new home) . . . we met up, I gave
them a map of the show with a few exhibits circled which
I hoped might give them ideas for their new garden,
and my friend and I left them to it. My friend and I then went home 2½ hours EARLY, something we have NEVER done before! The next day, I had dinner with
the young couple: they thought the show was a waste
of time (Susie said she learned more and had more fun
just going to nurseries with me!) and they would rather
have spent the $54. admission, plus parking and the
babysitter, on a good dinner out. . .

I really didn't want to post this review, because it
depresses me even in the re-telling. . .but, hey, things
are what they are, and we just move on. If anyone's
interested in books "about" the Philadelphia Flower
Show in it's hey-day, I have a couple to recommend.

Off to "SpringFest", the much smaller flower and garden
show in northwestern New Jersey that I posted about last year. . .it, too, has been slowly changing, but it still has the "feel" of an indoor country fair, and the distinct advantage of being held in heated greenhouses. . .and we're supposed to get snow flurries the day we're going this week, which will make it seem TWICE as nice!


    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:28PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Thanks, Carl. I could have added more of my cousin's opinions but wanted to hear your "take."

My cousin recently began working as a volunteer docent at a museum. She has no art background and so has diligently studied and learned about the art at her museum. This was a bus tour sponsored by a local group. Some of her specific comments were that she was more impressed by the art displays .... that there we so many things for sale that had nothing to do with gardening .... and that just part of the trip was spent at the show.

And now my take.... I'm sorry, but after seeing the opening photos of the Calder-inspired entrance, I was glad I didn't consider going. Calder's work is elegant, but spare and lean. The first few displays shared nothing with his work.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Did anyone catch CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend? They did a story on the show. Carl, I had no idea the huge entry display frames changed color! Gross! What they showed while they walked around didn't seem to be anything to write home about, except the gardens that gave a nod to Wyeth. That display really looked beautiful.
I'm glad I decided not to go and spend the money on travel, tickets, hotel, etc.....

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:38PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Okay, I don't really have anything to add regarding the show, as I didn't attend, but I do have to say one thing - just can't let this one go by.

In re-reading this fun thread from the top, I noticed a comment and I don't know how it got by me the first time. The line in question is: "...No, we all know you're far from nuts, Carl..."

And my comment is, Jane, you are being far too kind, lol! I know you've actually MET Carl, so I know that you know he is one of the nuttiest people we know!


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:39AM
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Dee -

It's knowing folks like you that DRIVES me nuts !


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:24AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Carl, through it all, hon, you still won a new Vermont Weather Stick, lol. A tad bent, but it works!

Jane :)

And, I'm Delighted to see the gray GW skies background has disappeared! May it never rear its ugly head again.

Signed, Clover Lover

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:14AM
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carl18 - I'm sorry you were so disappointed with something that had great meaning for you. Ultimately I've determined that basic gardening is my primary goal so that's what motivates me. I wish you some sort of comfort/compensation and that you aren't completely disillusioned about the flower show after all's said and done. Like many things, it had its heyday but may now be past its prime (or at least its prime that meets your expectations).

I don't mean to wax pedantic but gardening (to me) isn't about showing off. It's about making the most of what a bit of earth each of us has been given to nurture & tend. If inspiring others to take up gardening can't be achieved via flower shows staged by media moguls bent on making a profit, perhaps throwing our weight behind local plant swaps may have a larger impact in the long term.

Mother Nature has been populating the planet with GREEN, RED, PINK, BLUE, ORANGE & other colors for millions of years without the help of pesticides. Could be it's time to take back our gardens.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:17PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

You're right, Jane. The clovers are great.... cheerful, hopeful, and much preferred to the awful winter background.

Gardenweed, interesting comment about garden shows having become "media events." You have me thinking.....

Wonder how much $$$ these shows made compared to previous years? In other words, are they passé?

Wonder if "flower arranging" has become a lost art or even not-an-interest for many people who attend these shows and/or who consider themselves gardeners?


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Thanks for the feedback on the show. With the quality so iffy, I find it difficult to be willing to travel to see a show such as this. I think my garden travels are more likely to be during the growing season.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:36PM
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