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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flower Power

Rule 37 – Everything’s better with friends and family

     Every year we go through the same thing…

     It’s February, closing in on March. Weather is cold, damp and/or snowy. We have cabin fever. And then the light glimmers on the horizon in the form of the Philadelphia Flower Show. Then we scramble to get tickets!

     By “we”, I mean my sisters, my aunt and myself. This has become an annual event for members of my family. It’s a ritualistic necessity, almost as necessary as the family baseball game. We start the spring, during the first week in March, literally drooling over floral displays at Philly’s Convention Center. The weather outside might be frightful but inside the Center, it is delightfully floral, and spring!

     Each year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society chooses a different theme. Many statewide landscape contractors, landscape designers, and professional nurseries present displays illustrating the theme of the year. This year, we had a floral trip to Hawaii in their theme of “Islands of Aloha”.

     You entered in the main concourse “under the sea”. A wave display, accented with orchids, greeted you with flowing holographic images of sea creatures and flowers. Hawaiian music filled the air. You moved from the waves to the shore, where you found a large hut with a steep sloped grass roof. There you were able to view slide show images of the Islands. At times, a light show display accompanied the music. That location also served as stage for Hawaiian dancers.

     The artistic exhibits and the Designer’s Studio were moved to the back of the hall, this year. Designer Studio workshops have been extremely popular in the past and tended to clog traffic flow. Now they occupy a larger space and the demonstrators are visible to more people. The placement also allowed for the artistic designs to be showcased closer together.

     This year the number of showcase exhibitors was down but the number of landscape exhibitors and competitors was up. Tropical plants took over some of the displays. Others seemed to go for xeroscaping with little or no soil. Lava rocks became focal points in some garden displays. Water falls and water features were tucked surprisingly into a number of small displays. Many designers tried to use plants native to Pennsylvania to give an island look to the landscape. This design trend gave hope to gardeners like me, who live in a temperate climate. We saw how we could use familiar plants to achieve a tropical effect.

     The show allowed us to spend the whole day wandering around in garden-Zen euphoria. You don’t even have to leave the show for food. Many food vendors served patrons along the periphery of the building. My party and I took an afternoon tea in the Garden Tea Room. After all the walking, it was a welcome break.

     Recharged from tea and sandwiches, we made our way to the Marketplace inside the fair. Once there, we spread out and shopped for those one-of-a-kind garden additions you can only find from unique craftsmen. Everything from plants to landscape equipment to kitsch was for sale at the Marketplace. We learned to make that our last stop, since we have to carry our purchases back to wherever we left the car.

     The Philadelphia Flower Show runs each year during the first week of March. There is plenty of time to make a day (or 2-day) trip just up I-95 to the Convention Center. For those who avoid city driving, take the Amtrak to Philly’s 30th St. Station and the Market Street Subway to 12th and Market. The Convention Center is 2 blocks north of the station. Many of our larger local garden clubs offer bus trips to the show. I’ve even found bus trips offered by a few of my local garden centers! The Flower Show is the Mecca for gardeners.

     The show is now an annual family field trip for me. My sisters and I schedule days off from work just to get together to share our flower power. My aunt makes sure she is up to joining us each year. We are actively recruiting more and more cousins to join us. We just may be able to rent our own family bus soon.

     Next year, the theme is “Brilliant”. It promises to take me to England. Cottage gardens, manor house landscaping, roses, hedge mazes…. I can’t wait!!!

      For more information of the Philadelphia Flower Show, check out the show’s website at http://www.theflowershow.com/showinfo/index.html.

     The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s website has links to their projects in and around Philadelphia, as well as links to the Flower Show site. Check out http://www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/phlgreen/index.html for more information.

     And next year look for me and mine! We will be the ones with ice cream cones for lunch and cameras taking pictures of everything!

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