Susan Cohan’s recent post about the difference between “Flower Shows” and “Home and Garden Shows” started some rusty gears turning in my brain. Apparently, some folks argue that the Philadelphia Flower Show is too artificial for their taste, that the floral displays are outrageously impractical, self-consciously artsy, mere theater.
The heck you say???
Susan’s response to this perspective was more polite. She argues that flower shows are supposed to be like that. That we go to the Philly Flower Show to take in the visual spectacle, to revel in some bubbly, over-the-top, horticultural fantasy, not to see what kind of innovative new pavers EP Henry is peddling. Duh! (The duh is my addition, Susan keeps it professional.)
When I first stepped into the Philly Convention Center last Sunday and found myself beneath a giant wave made of white orchids and anthurium, I wanted to twirl like Julie Andrews on that mountain top in The Sound of Music. Finally! I was at a real flower show! (I couldn’t really twirl though because we were packed in there like sardines.)
Since 2007 when I became a gardener, I have eagerly attended various “Home and Garden” Shows around DC. The pattern has been that I drift aimlessly among the spa, tool, and hardscaping vendors, politely picking up a brochure here and there — usually from a nursery called Screaming Dog Natives or something — only to leave an hour or two later, sulking and depressed.
If you’re now thinking “well what did you expect, you idiot? they’re there to sell stuff!” you are clearly savvier and less naive than I am and you probably aren’t agonizing about whether ceramic fish or stainless steel alliums would better complement your Hosta ‘Bea Arthur’.
But anyway, Susan is right that “Flower Shows” like the one in Philadelphia and Chelsea (squeal!) inspire creativity and showcase innovative ideas more so than H&G shows. But before you go imagining that these shows are all about Pure Art and would never stoop to Tacky Commercialism, I should mention that there is a butt-load of cool stuff to buy at the Philly Show. My sister found herself a sweet-ass basket for carrying farmer’s market purchases and I came away with — score! — three ceramic fish (my sister talked me down from buying five.)
I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the food, though. When you’re admiring High Horticultural Art like this interactive plexiglass/bicycle chain/palmetto frond sculpture, it doesn’t seem right to be scarfing down a luke warm italian sausauge.
But back to the rusty gears I mentioned in paragraph one. The idea of “High Art” in gardening deserves a bit of blog space, I think. I’m not going to write about it right now, because it’s Friday afternoon and I just want to stretch out on the sofa and flip through my White Flower Farm Summer Garden Book and also because research shows that I’ve already exceeded the “Ideal Blog Post” length by, like, 300 words.
But stay tuned!