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PHILADELPHIA – Orchids, sea grass and remnants of Hurricane Sandy combined with flowers, dance and great works of art at the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show, which attracts horticulturalists the world over. Garden lovers packed the 10-acre display area at Pennsylvania Convention Center on opening day, Saturday, March 1 to get their fix of spring before the 15th storm of the winter season dumps nearly a foot of snow on the tri-state area.
The theme for this year’s spectacle is “ARTiculture,” a collaboration between flower show designers and some of the nation’s leading art museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brandywine River Museum and the Barnes Foundation.
The entrance exhibit, inspired by the mobiles of Alexander Calder that welcome art lovers to the Philadelphia Museum of Art every day, include live acrobatic performances by the vertical band troupe BANDALOOP amidst the multi-dimensional floral display.
Waldor Orchids of Linwood, New Jersey partnered with students at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University to create a rooftop garden featuring ordinary objects found in a gardener’s shed.
“We wanted to make it look like anyone’s rooftop garden, one you could find in any city throughout the United States,” Bob Taylor, co-chairman of Waldor’s display team, said.
He looked around the Linwood greenhouses to find things that could be considered everyday art. One item is an old mechanical device that opens greenhouse windows; another is a portable potting shed that could be found in any small garden, he said.
Waldor owner Walter Off’s daughter Rachel, who graduated from art school, reached out to Tyler students Michaela McGuire, Rachel Akerley and Katherine Larsen to collaborate on the display, Taylor said.
Taylor, Walter Off and Off’s son David came up with the design months ago, he said.
The company has been displaying orchids at the flower show since the 1930s, Taylor said, and he has been involved in the annual show for the last 28 years.
“Walter’s grandfather displayed roses here in the 1920s,” he said. “I’ve been good friends with Walter for many years, so I naturally fell into it. I love this week. It’s peaceful for me.”
Taylor of Southampton takes time off from his job as a dispatcher for a concrete company to create the nine-day exhibit, which will be seen by more than a quarter-million people before it closes on March 9.
“Once we know what the theme is, we lay it out on paper but we don’t know where the plants will go until they arrive here,” he said. “It’s like painting with flowers.”
Some of the orchids are generations-old, Taylor said. The most unusual orchid is the pleuro. marthae or “Pololei,” which doesn’t resemble what most people imagine an orchid would look like.
A team of five worked from Monday until Thursday to create the display, and help other teams get their displays completed in time for judging Friday morning.
“Everyone works together to pull this off,” he said.
Subaru of America sponsored a display of repurposed remnants from Hurricane Sandy for its ode to Mother Nature. Joe Palimeno of Ledden Palimeno Design used pieces of wood, metal and sea glass to recreate scenes from the renewable Jersey shore environment in its “Reclaimed-Repurposed-Renewed – Survivors of the Storm in Artful Recreations” exhibition.
Another highlight of the show is the Brandywine River Museum’s partnership with Stoney Bank Nurseries, which features the paintings of Andrew, Jamie and N.C Wyeth amid a landscape reminiscent of the area surrounding the Brandywine Creek, which inspired many of their paintings.
Art lovers and gardeners everywhere will enjoy this year’s stunning exhibitions, including a modern look at the work of Andy Warhol, Frieda Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh, miniature floral displays and the Butterfly Experience, which features 20 species of butterflies.
Proceeds from the show benefit Philadelphia Horticultural Society initiatives, including creating community gardens that provide fresh produce for more than 1,200 families during the growing season.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $32 at the door, with special rates for students and children. The show continues 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday until March 7, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 8 and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on closing day, Sunday, March 9.
For more information, visit www.theflowershow.com, or call 215-988-8899.