Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
March, 2006
Regional Report

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Judging by the visitors crowding around to take photos, "Awaken Yea Dragon, Come Dance," by the Norristown, PA, Garden Club, was one of the most popular displays at the recent Philadelphia Flower Show.

A Welcome Taste of Spring

This year's Philadelphia Flower Show on the theme "Enchanted Spring; A Tribute to Mother Nature," was a welcome tug from winter into spring. The fun began on entering the Convention Center's exhibit hall, where the towering Floratopia Tree greeted visitors front and center. Decked in orange and yellow ranunculus, pink and white orchids, and all sorts of butterflies, birds, spiders, and tropical creatures, the dazzling display set the show's whimsical tone.

In sharp contrast but equally delightful, the sparkling lights of Styer's Nursery's exhibit, "Snowfall," drew showgoers to its wintry scene. "The exhibit was gorgeous and unanticipated," gushed visitor and Philadelphia artist Mary Nomecos. Snow-flocked trees, flowers, and shrubs glistened as if in moonlight. The effect was like walking through woods after a glorious snowfall. Just the mood that designer Michael Petrie, vice president of J. Franklin Styer Nurseries, had in mind. "We are trying to create the effect of being in a garden in a blizzard," Petrie said.

With its child-sized willow tunnel, pink and purple playhouse with tea set, and vivid pink mallows, The Camden City Garden Club exhibit looked better than ever. Its creators, the Camden Children's Garden staff and volunteers, were on hand to answer questions and encourage people to visit their interactive garden. This exhibit, "Backyard Adventures; Childhood Unplugged" will join others from years past in the Children's Garden across the Delaware River.

Judging by the crowds gathering 'round to take photos in the Arbors category, "Awaken Yea Dragon -- Come Dance" was another favorite. Fairies danced under a flowery, yellow-eyed, fire-breathing dragon in this award-winning display by the Norristown Garden Club. As the judges wrote: "Never was a dragon so wonderful."

The 2006 show held more than meets (and delights) the eye. "This year we wanted to make it more educational," said Chela Kleiber, education programs manager for The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show. "We wanted people to actually learn something they can take home with them." So PHS designed the show around three aspects: "Know It; Grow It; Show It." All the educational exhibits were grouped together for "Know It." The Horticort focused on "Grow It." The artistic classes were clustered to "Show It."

Proceeds from the Philadelphia Flower Show support the Philadelphia Green gardening and tree care programs. Begun 30 years ago as a small vegetable gardening project, Philadelphia Green has become the largest and most comprehensive urban greening effort in the nation.

In the eyes of Philadelphians Marbie and Elizabeth Begosh and Mary Nomecos, the show is always a success. "I love the competitive classes, especially their new ideas for container gardening," said Marbie. "The Windowbox displays are always fun but so crowded you have to wait till the end of the day to see them closely."

Marbie, who's been attending for more than 30 years, turned to her daughter Elizabeth. "I used to bring you when you were tiny, a baby in a stroller, to the Civic Center (west Philadelphia)," Marbie recalled. She and Mary began volunteering in the Horticulture Information Booth two years after the show moved to the Convention Center in center city.

"This year there were lots of pitcher plants and water features interspersed throughout the exhibits," noted Mary. "I always like the wide variety of plant materials. There's so much information!"

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