GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2006 show1
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This week we visit the Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Flower Show is the oldest and largest indoor flower show in the world. It's steeped in tradition - 250,000 visitors, 10 acres of gardens and 140 vendors selling and displaying everything from seeds to sunrooms. The Show celebrates its 177th anniversary this year. We'll meet one designer who has been exhibiting here for 28 consecutive years and another carries on the tradition her grandfather started decades earlier. This show highlights tabletop displays, large gardens and more manageable spaces.

Sam Lemheney is Director of Design at the Phily Flower Show. This show attracts all kinds of people, from gardening experts to weekend gardeners and people from all over the world. It truly is an international show. People come and exhibit from Europe, Asia, Ireland and South America, to name a few. The show has something for everyone, it features educational opportunities from the gardeners studio to design elements with floral design exhibitors. Sam invites Garden Smart viewers to visit the Flower Show and Philadelphia. It is a great city.

We first visit with Jack Blandy of Stoney Bank Nurseries. This year they have created the central theme of the Show, it is called Enchanted Spring, a Tribute to Mother Nature. There are three gardens-fire, water and wind. And they are mother natures enchanted gardens.

We first visit the fire garden. The intent was to create the illusion of lava flows from the fire turret which goes off every 20 minutes with a rumble and supposed fire shooting out of the top. The lava flows are flowers, of course, since this is a flower show. They used Crotons, which are very colorful and specimen plants like Bromeliad, which is actually flowering. Jack and his team had to force these plants in their greenhouses in Glenn Mills, Pa., then bring them here in heated trucks. They started here with a concrete floor and built the exhibit. Some of the rocks were brought in from Arizona, they're volcanic-type rocks. Jack and his group have utilized special lighting that makes the Croton lava-flow look like it has movement. They've utilized different textures and leaf forms to go along with and compliment the smaller, more narrow foliage. Homeowners could utilize these large textures in their garden, since the large textures contrast with the small textures it provides a dramatic look.

We next look at the wind exhibit. It is a stylized meadow and they've created a sense of wind and movement in this exhibit. There are kites flying overhead and a birdhouse in the meadow. Fans above move the plants around, providing the sense of movement. Plants are also utilized to create a sense of movement-Weeping Cedars, the small leaves on the Ulmus, weeping Redbuds - all create a sense of movement. The meadow is filled with meadow flowers and ornamental grasses of all kinds. They have contrasted the small textures of the ornamental grasses with larger textures highlighting leaf and form. Jack has included Sedges which are popular and has contrasted the foliage of Hostas with a new variety of Pieris, called Brouwer's Beauty. It is a nice plant, doesn't get Lacewing Fly and mites like many of the Japanese Andromedas. They're great plants for shade. Good color, good contrast. Even in a shade situation you can have flowers on your plants although that's not always the most important thing because the flowers are only around for a short period of time. Jack thinks that is an important point. Gardeners go out and buy plants in the spring because they have pretty flowers, those flowers last a short period of time, then what is left is the plant itself. The gardener then may be disappointed because their garden is rather flat. Instead think about texture and form when choosing plants. As well, find plants that have more than one season of interest.

We next visit the water garden. This is Joe's favorite. It has a lot of interest. It points out the fact that there are a lot of plants that are good, in, around and near water. There are more choices than most realize. Acorus is a water loving plant, it is evergreen, has great foliage, has a variegated variety and a solid variety. And it is an easy plant to grow. As well River Birch, Heritage River Birch, grows great near water. Magnolia Virginiana, a native Magnolia, loves water. Many native Azaleas, like Swamp Azalea and Flame Azalea like moisture. Ferns also do well in a wet environment. Some are four-season ferns in different parts of the country and you get different color with them. They add a nice texture - the fine texture of the fern leaf compliments some of the bark like that on the River Birch and some of the larger foliage on some of the larger plants. Joe Pye Weed attracts butterflies and bees. Fothergilla is a great 3 or 4 season plant. Anytime you can get more than 1 season of interest out of a plant, it's a great advantage. This plant produces brilliant fall color, it is red and orange and looks like it is on fire. It adapts to the shade and is brilliant in the sun. It is a great plant, everyone should have one in their garden. Liqularia has a big, bold leaf and it is placed next to an Epimedium which has spiky foliage. The texture of plants helps provide a backbone for the garden for the whole season. That is a very important design element. Joe also notices different heights, which provide a layering effect. Jack has created lower plants, mid level plants and then the tall trees. It is beautiful. Thanks for the tour, Jack.

Gardens come in all shapes and sizes and the Philadelphia Flower Show showcases them all. We found some smaller gardens. Here one designer has utilized the color white in flowers and foliage and tied that all into the house, from the shutters to the trim to the structures on the side walls. Often when we think about color in the garden we think about utilizing flowers for that. It doesn't need be so. Hostas, for example, have been utilized to emphasize the color white and that is a good design technique. The seating area is designed to take full advantage of and assist in enjoying the view of the garden.

In the exact same space another designer has created a completely different look and feel. It's more enclosed and intimate. They've done that by packing in the plant material and using more vertical height. As well, they've done this on both sides of the garden. Here they've planted material into wreaths that coordinate plant color with the wall. They've utilized grays and pinks, tying it into the salmon color. Another design technique that we see too little is to combine the foliage and color of leaves with different plants. For example, a Chartreuse Hosta ties in well with a finely textured Juniper.

Backyard gardens can also be small. In fact, this space is only 12 feet wide and 14 feet deep. But it's a gardeners garden and there is a lot going on with trees and shrubs, even a container with fresh herbs. It's one step out the back door for fresh herbs. Joe likes the technique of using a tall plant by the door, a Sky Pencil Holly. It will get tall but stay narrow, thus will never get too big for this space.

We next visit a large, formal garden. You know that several ways. First, the grand entrance has symmetry. What you see on the left is mirrored on the right. The designer did that with the fountain, as well, it's on axis for the main sight line of all entrances to the garden. When planning plant material they utilized material that would stay nice and low so it would not obstruct the view of the fountain. They gave the fountain some vertical interest by placing urns on all four corners, another example of symmetry. To carry the idea further, on all four corners are River Birches. In a formal garden it's good to have straight edges. They did that here and layered it with a good ground cover of Dwarf Boxwoods and beautiful Knockout Roses to provide some color. When in the outdoors you want to entertain, thus they've added a seating element perfectly placed to enjoy the beauty of the garden and the sound of the fountain.

Entertaining in the garden doesn't have to begin and end with the meal. There is a lot you can do before and after dining. Joe Palimeno is a landscape designer and he discusses the concept of vacationing in your garden. Vacationing in your backyard depends upon the concept of what one wants to do with the product, how one wants to show the product that is created. In this area Joe took an area about 40 feet by 40 feet and created a great outdoor living environment that has not only a swimming pool that can be used during the day to play and swim and grow but at nightime it transforms into a fountain with an adjoining built in seating area that is accessorized with cushions to soften the area. As well it has a great combination of table and chairs. It's an outdoor environment that brings you outside the house. You come outside, bring the meal, cook it, socialize, entertain, sit down for dinner but then you don't have to go back inside because there is a lot going on outdoors. Joe has created elevation changes. He has utilized double sided, segmental retaining blocks that enable one to show both sides, allowing him to not by necessity pack earth up against the back side. He can show both sides. He took a flat area, built the different levels with different, great seating areas. Additionally, he has utilized beautiful plant material all around to provide a feeling of seclusion and privacy. The plants soften the area, accessorize it and the space comes to life. No matter if you're in the country or city this concept can be adapted to your area. Thanks Joe, this has been a great learning experience.

Eric Johnson provides our Design Tip for the week. A great way to create accent and intrigue in the garden is using black plants. Black plants are some of the hottest plants on the market today. Eric has 3 wonderful examples. One is Ophiopogon Nigrescens, Black Mondo Grass. It has wonderful texture for under plantings in the garden. The next plant is Colocasia Black Magic, it is great for a tropical feel. It will get pretty big. One of his all time favorites is Sambucas Black Lace. It is a fast grower and super cold hardy. So, when looking for plants in your garden think about black plants for accent. For more information visit the garden tips section of the website.

Susan LeBoutillier is with Waterloo Gardens and she has created the feel of separate rooms with a relatively small space. It has an outdoor eating area where we start. Susan feels it is important to feel like you're a part of your garden. So, when sitting out here eating breakfast you feel like you're with the plants and flowers. Joe likes the way she has blended the colors together, even the colors in the napkins and the placemats are reflected in the plant material. She has incorporated sound, utilizing wind chimes as well as artwork on the wall to reflect a garden theme. Another room is a show stopper and features a flowering Crabapple. When Susan's family started doing the Flower Show 12 years ago her father always had a Crabapple in the display. The Crabapple is a tribute to him, he died 5 years ago. Susan has designed the surrounding flower bed to match the colors in the Crabapple blooms, the Tulips match perfectly. Joe also likes the layers. Tall Conifers in the back to create a screening effect, it softens the wall, midlevel shrubs, like Viburnums, then plenty of color down low. It is an important design technique. Thank you Susan.

Chris Ondrak is with the American Institute of Floral Designers and they have an elaborate display. We start off with one that looks like Monet's garden. It is incredible. It was done by Steve Parker from Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Steve took a piece of 2 dimensional art and turned it into 3 dimensional art. It is spectacular. We next look at what looks like candles. They are a new product on the market and come in 9 different colors. It doesn't have a flame, it is a battery pack light. When outdoors they never blow out. They will normally last about 48 hours but last longer if it is colder. The small battery just pops out and is easily replaced. We next look at a design that Joe feels he might be able to manage. It is a beautiful piece done by Richard. Richard has taken a glass top table and expanded the design above and below the glass. It has Orchids, shells and different types of Protea. The design almost seems to go through the table. There are blue rods that go all the way from top to bottom and they add a lot of vertical interest. This almost triples the size of the arrangement for little cost. The blue rods are on the opposite side of the color wheel from the yellow flowers so they just pop. Another display is deceiving because at first it appears the stems are going into 3 separate vases but that's not the case. The vases are just a prop to hold the centerpiece up. This is designed in a 14 inch bowl. It might be a little grand for someone at home. In another display, Colleen has taken an oasis-type foam wreath, soaked it in water then started her design to match the top piece. This is a piece that could actually fit on your dining table. Chris shows us a technique that will make your flowers look a little more professional. It is called a hand-tying method. He takes the stems and lays one over the other in his hand rather than putting them at this point in a vase. He spirals them around, this creates a spiral form which will stay that way into the vase. You'll see the spiral form. When done, cut the stems with a knife or scissors, cut on an angle, you don't need to cut them all at once. This will allow new water to get into the flower in case its been sealed off at the bottom. Then drop them into a vase with a floral solution. Joe thanks Chris. It has been a learning experience.

Links ::

The Philadelphia Flower Show
Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing
Stoney Bank Nurseries
Waterloo Gardens
Joe Palimeno
American Institute of Floral Designers

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