The 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show Was Filled with the Exotic and the Spectacular, But Fortunately, the Little, Natural, and Simple Plantings Were Also There

Yesterday, I attended the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the largest indoor flower show in the world. I had heard reports that this year, the show was not as grand as in previous years, but I anticipated that I would not agree with that appraisal. This year, the Philadelphia Flower Show was different. Instead of drenching the convention center with a bezillion single flowers–like in years past–this year’s objective was to create large water installations, and in my opinion, the result was stunning.

I suspect that most people who attended the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show were most impressed with the Rainforest, which was at the main entrance of the show, and there is no doubt that the rainforest was an extravaganza. Consider the challenge: The Philadelphia Flower Show began in 1829, and for almost 100 years, every performance has tried to top any that have come before it. And if “topping” is the objective of a display, the rainforest will be hard to “top.”

The rainforest waterfall was 25′ tall, and it was attached to the rainforest structure, which was built from massive bamboo poles and from steel poles that look like bamboo.

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Although the waterfall was impressive, it was the canopy of orchids, which was on the other side of the waterfall, that was breathtaking.

I couldn’t begin to guess how many orchids were suspended inside the rainforest, but I read that the rainforest had 4,000 plants.

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In addition, there were mounds of bird of paradise plants and palms and massive spreads of alive and planted bamboo. Within the canopy itself, you heard birds and other wildlife. I presume that was a recording, but it was the most impressive fakeness that I have ever experienced.

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But probably because I grew up in the country–in a rural part of the Southern part of the USA, rainforests are not part of my DNA. They amaze me. The awe me, but the parts of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show that touched me the most deeply were the more natural spots.

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I suppose that most people would say that the 25-foot rainforest waterfall was the most magnificent in the 2018 Flower Show, but I also loved its primitive country cousin, that was tucked back in an out-of-the-way spot.

The Country Waterfall was made by allowing various primitive containers to flow into or drip one into another.

Some of the flow was created by tilting the pot above it, but some of the buckets merely leaked into the vessel below. The water vat at the bottom was wrapped in old, rusty galvanized roofing, and garden tools arched across the top.

Certainly, the rusty bucket waterfall was the most modest water display at the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, but I loved it and I also adored the waterfall that was created by painting an old, iron, claw foot bathtub hot pink, and juxtaposing it against a royal blue garden shed. A rain spout dropped water into a tub that continuously overflowed, simply because it was too full. Unlike traditional waterfalls, there was no water cascading down a hillside of rocks, but the overflowing tub created the same, therapeutic sounds of a trickling waterfall. The tub was apparently set on a false ground level that was suspended above some water reservoir below it. The pink of the tub was echoed in the pink azaleas and rhododendrons, and the blue was highlighted by the yellow forsythias and daffodils. Blue hyacinths dotted the natural woodscape around the tub area.

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On one side of the blue cottage, there was a small and very natural-looking stone waterfall that seemed to simply be resting in a clump of blooming spring bulbs.

If I said that I was not impressed by the rainforest at the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, I would not be truthful, but I don’t believe that it requires any special set of sensors to be impressed by massive displays of exotic pageantry. The rainforest display was like Disneyland. As I suggested before, it was over the top, but it was by no means the only treat at the show. I do not believe that excess and beauty are the same. I loved seeing the rainforest, and I am very happy that I was able to be thrilled by its tableau, but I was most genuinely touched by the tiny and natural touches that were also dotted around the exhibition.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

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If I were forced to choose my favorite big display at the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, I would not select the magnificent rainforest. Instead, I would choose the natural lake where wood duck boxes were built. It was the most natural indoor water feature that I have ever seen in my life.

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Image may contain: plant, flower, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: plant, flower, tree, outdoor and nature

I also loved the seemingly wooded chapel that was built inside the convention center. I grew up going to summer camp, and there was a forest chapel like this at my camp.

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Behind the chapel, there was a pond with a network of “raining” pipes draped above it.

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I grew up in the South, and I grew up believing that spring and daffodils begin by early March, but I live near Philadelphia now, and March is still cold up here. I believe that one reason that people love the Philadelphia Flower Show is that it brings springtime to the Northeast early, and the 2018 exhibition was no exception. I had initially planned to attend the show days earlier, but because it snowed, I could not attend. The day before I went to the 2018 Flower Show, I had to break the ice off my car, to enable me to drive. To enter the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show, I was forced to walk through patches of snow that were still on the ground,

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But inside the Philadelphia Convention Center, the 2018 Flower Show was a Springtime Wonder.


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