Power of the petal: Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates 190 years of gardening and design

Safe to say, thousands of people have stopped to smell the roses at the Convention Center for the Philadelphia Flower Show. The annual event, which opened on March 2 and is running through March 10. Dating back to 1829, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) celebrated 190 years of gardening and design with the theme of “Flower Power.”

Drawing on the 1960s and early 1970s, visitors are immediately transported back in time with PHS’ entrance garden. Comprised of nearly 8,000 flowers of more than 85 varieties, the vibrant entry display incorporates a suspended meadow with 18,000 floral and grass stems and artistic vine sculptures.

Decorated with crafted flowers and butterflies, the opening attraction encircles pods that host the work of 23 international floral artists who competed in the Interflora World Cup competition. Bart Hassam from Australia was declared the winner on March 4. Second place went to Natalia Zhisko of Russia and third place was awarded to Tamás Mezőffy of Hungary.

While there were no topiaries to directly represent the major players of the 60s and 70s, the designs evoke the spirit of the times and pay homage to the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock.  The large scenic display, “Woodstock … A Renewal of Vows” by Robertson’s Flowers & Events includes a rainbow, pickup truck filled with flowers, old-fashion Coca-Cola vending machine and plenty of floral peace signs.

“Wish” of Wilmington, Delaware with art labor by students of Shepherd University is another dynamic display that pictures different scenes to represent the era. Emphasizing the Beat Generation atmosphere, one part of the work has a camper trailer, cruiser bicycle, vintage television, dreamcatcher and mock-up newspapers.

In another section of “Wish” is a Vietnam display. The section mentions in its description that Allen Ginsberg coined the term Flower Power in 1965 as a way to rally the masses towards passive resistance against the war.

Other displays take a more figurative interpretation on the “Flower Power” theme. “Kaleidoscope” by Waldor Orchids is a stunning piece that includes rotating structures made of orchids, tropical flowers and mirrors that spin atop a reflective floor. The various flowers and structure sizes are intended to represent the diversity of the human race. Additionally, the mirrors are meant to convey the ability to both reflect on the collective and the individual.

The psychedelic “Happy Together: People & Flowers” by Schaffer Designs is a panoramic display with multiple scenes, each sectored off by different colored lights. Designed to express the positive relationship between flowers and humans, the design scales from simple to elaborate floral design.

“Fanfare” by Flowers by David is a multi-medium display, incorporating electric fans into the yellow palate flower scheme.

Some botanical artists scaled back and made intricate, smaller displays to encapsulate the theme. Artists competed in a flower hat making competition, showcased in the “Three Days of Peace and Music: A hat worn at Woodstock” exhibit.

Although Karena Valentine and Eleanor P. Deacon placed third, their hat made of gerbera daisies, gypsophila and salal perfectly embody the fun-spirited grooviness of Woodstock.

Anneke B. Cunningham and Moose P. Cunningham presented a more sophisticated and technically difficult look with their first-place hat, which utilizes air plants, allium, eucalyptus, fern, monkey tails, orchids and ranunculus.

Philadelphia Flower Show | Running through March 10. Prices vary. Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th & Arch Sts. theflowershow.com


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