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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Philly's Park and Bark Show pined for flowers

Photo by Patricia Leslie
 It was time again for the Smithsonian Associates' annual day trip to Philadelphia for the spectacular International Flower Show whose theme in 2016 was the commemoration of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service.

Park designs to the right of us, park designs to the left of us, but alas, no sign of the most popular park in the system, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which records more than 10 million visitors every year, about twice the number of the second most visited park, the Grand Canyon.  

Perhaps the omission was because the Great Smokies don't need the attention and/or it's in the South. (Attention, Southerners: Northerners don't cotton much to you and your kin, if you haven't heard.) 


But I did see something dedicated to the Everglades in Florida: a bunch of sticks is the best of my recollection, which were the color of sticks, dull and brown, and no photographs.

Whatever, the Flower Show this year didn't have its usual bursting big arrays of fresh flowers in all colors and sizes and kinds, to top anything you ever conceived.   

This year the "Flower Show" was more about trees and greenery and limbs left from fires in the national parks which can always use the attention, I suppose, but their fragrance is not the same as roses (saw and smelled none) or daffodils wafting through the Philadelphia Convention Center.  
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 At the Flower Show, Park Service guides were at the ready everywhere and seemingly happy to answer questions.  It must have been a plum assignment for them.
Photo by Patricia Leslie At the main entrance to the show
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Another view of the main entrance to Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 And you thought the Old Faithful Inn was in Yellowstone.  From March 5 to March 13, it was in Philadelphia.
 Photo by Patricia Leslie 
Flower Show attendees mingled and watched video inside Old Faithful Inn.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 More of Yellowstone and geysers in Philadelphia.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Arcadia National Park in Maine by J. Downend Landscaping, Crum Lynne, PA
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 The Appalachian Trail created by Williamson College of the Trades, Media, PA.  All right, all right, so some of the trail wanders through the Great Smoky Mountains which straddles the Tennessee and North Carolina border, but that's just a small portion of the trail which meanders through the eastern U.S. 2,168 miles, ending in Maine and completed by only 25% of those who start hiking it, according to the sign at the display.  So, no, this is not a park in the South.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Just like the contests on the cooking channel, there were timed competitions at the Designer's Studio to see who could create the best design, and the audience voted for favorites.
Photo by Patricia Leslie A display of tablescapes.

Photo by Patricia Leslie Tablescapes from the other end.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 A little elaborate, don't you think?  The judges liked it though, and it won two third prizes (judging on different days), commendations, and a blue ribbon.  In posted remarks, one judge said "Overuse of accessories distracts from design." The setting was inspired by Washington Irving and Ansel Adams for Yosemite National Park's Annual Bracebridge Dinner, according to the creators, Rosemary Harris and Elsa Taylor.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 The Elverson Garden Club called their tablescape "Sipapu, Portal to the Past" which "evokes the culture of the ancestral Puebloan people and their ancient cliff dwellings found at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado." It took second and third place honors, and a commendation.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 The Garden Workers made "Smoke From the Ground" for Native Americans who admired Yellowstone's geysers hundreds of years before the park was established. "Smoke" won two blue ribbons, a gold ribbon, and class commendations.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 In the "Front Entrance" category, "Ellis Island, Welcome Home" by the Norristown Garden Club won two blue ribbons and a red ribbon.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 My favorite in this category was the Edgar Allan Poe house, the colors which immediately attracted me from several feet away.  "Tales Untold" by the Greene Countrie Garden Club were posted on a sign:  "Hot and humid day...[in] Philadelphia. Misery and gloom follow me everywhere. Even the garden reflects my melancholy mood. My mind is turning over with tales. Everything is just as I left it. Alas, there lay the typewriter to be used by me nevermore, nevermore." In the "yard" lay Poe's typewriter  stuffed with a manuscript entitled...
Photo by Patricia Leslie  
"The Raven." Poe's front entrance earned the artists only two yellow ribbons for third place. Wrote one nasty judge:  "A manicured standard (?) does not belong in a dismal garden."  Ain't this make believe, anyway? 

Said another:  "Relocating crowded plants would improve overall design."  Huh?  What crowded plants?  They must got eyes I can't see.  Take out the plants and what you got left?  A frame of a house?  The Philly Flower Show has never asked me to be a judge and if it did, like I did for my son's kindergarten classmates a long time ago on Spirit Day, all competitors would win blue ribbons.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Except for this one which struck Claire and me as an odd choice to win a blue ribbon in the Monuments category (I think that was the name), only because of its funereal, lifeless, unimaginative and artificial (redundant?) design that supposedly commemorates the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Huh?
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Down the aisle was more of a blue ribbon winner to me, the Washington Monument by Patti Kelly of the Gardeners of Rose Valley which only garnered an honorable mention. A judge commented: "Vertical structure is out of scale and affects the balance."  I wonder what this judge would say about a design dedicated to complement the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  "It slants"?
..
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Or, here is the contemporary design of the Jefferson Magnificent Memorial, one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, memorial in Washington, D.C.  Kathy Powell of the Garden Club of Trenton was the artist who won a red ribbon for second place. The wires "distract" from the overall design, wrote one judge.  Good cow, judge!  The wires are the design!   
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Aaawwww...the Great Smoky Mountains?  Nope.  Try again.  It's a scene from the Shenandoah National Park made by Hillary Lee and the "outstanding" blue ribbon winner in the Miniatures competition.  The artist copied a likeness of President Herbert Hoover's Camp Rapidan retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he liked to fish for trout, and escape demands of the office.  One of the judges said it had "museum quality."
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 A peek inside President Hoover's cabin with a fire in the fireplace.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Except for a splashy show of flowers, the Philly show had everything this year  including nudes, these bathers straight from "Optional Suits at Sandy Hook" by Mary Forsberg who entered this scene in the Miniatures competition and won a red ribbon.  At Gunnison Beach, New Jersey, this couple celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary with doughnuts, wine, cheese, cake, and a view of the Big Apple. No wonder the line was long at the Miniatures.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 This is what?  An impressionist painting at the Philly show?  No, it's "Symbiosis of Fire and Ice" by Dr. Robin Tomasi, which won an Honorable Mention in the Miniatures.  

"Thinking outside the box! Design and intent are confusing," wrote one judge. "Contrast is not as effective as intended."  The scene depicts the transmission of a "telepathicgram" (?) to paleobotanist Prudence Buster about an imminent eruption at Mt. Rainer and her climb through the forest to the portal of the volcano.  Perhaps Tomasi writes sci-fi, too.
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Photo by Patricia Leslie
 If you were small enough (like about 1.5" high or  shorter), you could have relaxed at the Redwood National Park Campgrounds created by Cathy Bandoian for the Miniatures, the winner of a blue ribbon. All the tree trunks are real redwood, but one judge thought the fallen tree "affects rhythm."  I saw no musical instruments anywhere.  

On the table, however, is a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies which the picnickers had better hide from the bears.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Who knew that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was coming?  She probably didn't know it either, but Norristown Garden Club members Dot Chmielewski and Barbara Leiby entered her in the "Back Pedestal" (?) competition (see the crown on the pedestal) and took third place honors. I can see Kate wearing a hat similar to the floral arrangement.  

What is the connection to national parks in the U.S.?  Oh, I get it.  We used to be part of her homeland which also explains the one below.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Queen Elizabeth!  This is the Queen Elizabeth designed by Jim and Valerie McLaughlin of the Four Counties Garden Club which won an Honorable Mention.  Can you see QEII wearing the stacked roses?  I can't either.  Too splashy for HRH, but a judge thought differently:  "Choice of flowers compliments (sic) the Royal Monarch."
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 High school students made these beautiful necklaces with all components from plants, flowers, trees, seeds.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 This might come in handy trying to fend off suitors.  Nehama Dormont and Carly Feld of Lower Merion High School designed and made it and carried off an  honorable mention.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Another gorgeous necklace to complement any ensemble, made by Jennifer Crainic of Lower Merion High School who won an Honorable Mention.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Holy Batman!  Devin McNutt took home a blue ribbon for these unusual earrings.  
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Sarah Carlson and Dan Baxter won an honorable mention for these gumball gems which are earrings.  Wrote one judge: "Dramatic design. Selection of plant materials affects wearability."  Really? 
 Photo by Patricia Leslie
 A hat made of rice, goji berry, Star of Anise, and thistle by Keith Cavell Long, Jr. won not only a blue ribbon, but a big blue and gold ribbon from the Garden Club Federation of Philadelphia. 
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Barb B. Kaytes and Frankie Hollister of the Green Fingers Garden Club (CT) won a red ribbon for this hat.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 New York's Fifth Avenue Easter Parade has nothing on this hat made by Tina and Brin Marcinek who used 16 different plants and won an honorable mention.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 It looked like a forest of wedding bouquets but this is King's Canyon National Park in California.
Photo by Patricia Leslie 
More bouquets, these from Denali National Park.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 These are not miniature stuffed poodles.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 The photographer cut off the heads of these white-legged ostriches with flowers attached to their knees.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 This is what a hangover looks like after a night on the rails.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Daffodils, daffodils!  There was a host of them.
Photo by Patricia Leslie
 And if you thought it was all flowers and pines, guess again.  Vendors galore were present to offer up unusual items for your home place.  

And wine!  And liquor!

Free tastings were rampant "on the bridge" where some drank wine and then liquor, and still managed to find their way back to the bus to complete a fine day at the Philadelphia Park and Pine Show, but on board the bus, special request to the Smithsonian:
 
Give us liberty in Philadelphia or give us drink, but please, not that awful Taylor sherry.  

Perhaps something next year to match the "Holland" theme, like Holland Gin Cocktails, maybe? Amstel?



patricialesli@gmail.com

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