The show of shows in the garden world Spring: The prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show brings together the latest gardening pros from around the world.

February 23, 1997|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The fragrances and colors of springtime around the world will blossom in harmony next weekend when the Philadelphia Flower Show once again opens its doors.

Floral designers, landscape artists and horticulturists from the Netherlands, England, Japan, Italy and Belgium are bringing the latest gardening techniques from abroad to the prestigious eight- day event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

In addition, more than 60 professional American nursery growers will show the newest plants, colors, themes and styles from around the United States at this international gardening exchange, touted as one of the oldest and largest indoor flower shows in the world.

(For a garden show even closer to home, see Page 11J for details on the Maryland Home & Flower Show, which opens next weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.)

Ten acres inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center will be transformed into lavish garden displays, some costing as much as $100,000 to create. In addition, amateur gardeners will display new and unusual plants in hundreds of competitive classes.

Gardening experts will present demonstrations, give lectures and answer questions throughout the show. Every plant will be identified with a label.

"A most important trend for us is people's quest for information," said Jane Pepper, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. "We try to satisfy their needs at the show."

The Philadelphia exhibition has been a rite of spring since 1829. This year's tribute to international gardening is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors from the Eastern Seaboard and from as far away as Canada and Europe.

Visitors to this year's show may find inspiration beneath a windmill in a field of 50,000 unusually colored lily, amaryllis and tulip bulbs, where growers from the Netherlands will create large arrangements with blooms grown from bulbs -- a popular European practice.

Horticulture students from England and Pennsylvania are collaborating on an English pub garden decorated for May Day with a thatched-roof pub, flowering trees, perennials and roses.

"English gardeners stake their plants in such tremendous ways," said Edward Lindemann, show designer and director. "They'll use an old tree branch and work it into their gardening. In $H America we just use a green stick, a twist tie and that's it."

Ideas from Asia

In a Chinese Scholar's Garden, plants of Oriental heritage that may be grown in the Philadelphia area are being used to create a restful setting with lots of texture and little color.

Peach and apple tree blossoms, fresh green bamboo 6 to 8 inches in diameter and camellias are among the plants that Japanese designers will use to express contemporary philosophies of freedom through ikebana, the ancient Japanese art of flower design. The arrangements may be 6 or 8 feet tall.

A flower society from Belgium will demonstrate that country's traditional pyramidal style of floral design as well as a contemporary look that is architectural and asymmetrically balanced with lots of horizontal lines.

Anthuriums, snapdragons and a rainbow of carnations in sizes ranging from the width of a button to 4 inches will decorate the balconies and terraces of stucco houses stacked up a hillside in a re-created version of the Italian town of Genoa.

"The Italian arrangements stand out because they are not inhibited about mixing colors," Lindemann said. "Their arrangements tend to be very bold and very bright. We Americans tend to be restrained."

Restrained or not, American gardening enthusiasts will find lots to get excited about at the Philadelphia show, such as exquisite Egyptian, native American and contemporary jewelry created with twisted vines, tiny seeds, leaves, pods, rose hips and flowers by entrants in several competitive classes.


Among the nationwide trends to watch for are:

Black gardens: Monochromatic color schemes set a mood and have been popular in England for years. Especially dramatic are black gardens with lots of texture and extremely dark tones in foliage, flowers and stems. Deep purples, burgundies and blues appear to be almost black. Among the plants used are ornamental black Mondo grass and philodendrons. Sometimes white flowers are mixed in for contrast.

Animation in the garden: Homeowners are seeking an element of motion that will add interest to the garden. Among the most popular are the butterfly garden and the water garden. In a butterfly garden, a portion of the garden is dedicated to plants, such as butterfly bush or impatiens, that attract butterflies by color or fragrance. In water gardens, ornamental fish and compatible aquatic plants are a must.

A garden to match the home: The garden is an extension of the home, designed to coordinate with the style and color scheme of the interior.

Container gardening: Growing plants in creative containers adds interest and variety on patios and decks.

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