A concept for the Philadelphia Flower Show’s entrance by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.

by Diane M. Fiske

Two local landscape designers have accepted the challenge of designing exhibits to be featured at the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show. The exhibits are not about a country or a region, but about something really fluid: water.

Water and how it affects every aspect of our environment is the theme of this year’s Flower Show, “Wonders of Water,” which begins March 3 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

This theme will be presented as both an aesthetic challenge and a call for understanding of the need to change the reality that many components of life, such as water, are in short supply.

First, the Burke Brothers Company, of Wyndmoor, is presenting displays by landscape architect Christopher DiVito and his fellow designer Kali Smalley to the Flower Show.

Burke’s first display is called. “La Fontaine – Elegance of Water.” It shows a 19th century fountain in the middle of a formal garden. This was inspired by a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, according to DiVito.

The display, DiVito said, includes the landscaping found in formal gardens, such as tall border hedges and a variety of trees with seating areas surrounding them

Most importantly, DiVito said, “Our display starts with a French fountain, which is a focal point surrounded with lawn seating near a formal garden.”

He said there is other statuary in the display made of terracotta. The Burke display includes more plants that are displayed in vibrant colors throughout the formal gardens, which are divided into four sections each including identical flowers.

DiVito said he feels the formal gardens are popular, not only in large estates, but also increasingly on smaller yards in residential areas.

The second display by Burke, funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, has a hydroponic theme.

“It shows,” he said.” How we can adopt the technique of growing plants without soil and give plants what they need in smaller spaces.”

DiVito said hydroponic plantings are very efficient and these plants can thrive in smaller spaces, some of them vertical.

“This shows you can grow beautiful flowers and vegetables in spaces as small as a patio,” he said. “Even people living in apartments or other small spaces can have a garden.”

DiVito said this type of hydroponic garden can be grown by anyone with a “few construction skills” who can connect a five-gallon device to channel water to the plants.

Robertson’s  Flowers and Events, also of Wyndmoor, will display a wedding in the rain forest at the Flower Show. The rain and mist found in the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and Southeast Alaska will provide a setting for a wedding in the woods.

According to Flip Ferry, owner, of Robertson’s Flowers, the design team lead by Emanuella Williamson will show a beautiful wedding setting that depicts a misty area of the Pacific Northwest surrounded by plants, ferns, moss and other vegetation.

“It will be very soothing, “ Ferry said.

The wedding tables will be set up next to a stone wall without actual figures representing the couple, but with the suggestion that the wedding party will be soon arriving.

Fallen logs and tree stumps will provide unique seating for pedestals surrounded with floral décor.

The theme of water is a dominant theme when guests will arrive at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year, They will enter the show under a 25-foot waterfall next to the a waterfall canopy of exotic flowers and have a chance to peek at a structure made of bamboo. A rain curtain will guide them over a rope bridge, and through the green rainforest.

“We want to capture all the sensory elements of the rainforest – its fantastic colors, scents and sounds – and demonstrate its unique and vital role in purifying water and sustaining our environment,” said Sam Lemheney, chief of shows and events for the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.

The show will explore ways green infrastructure can protect and conserve water sources. A major grant by the William Penn Foundation provided funds for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to build an exhibit that shows how plant systems cleanse and sustain the Delaware River Watershed through mountains, fields, marshes and streams. Speakers l will include former NASA Astronaut Mary Ellen Weber among other experts discussing freshwater issues and real-world solutions

The Flower show is scheduled to run from Saturday, March 3, to Sunday, March 11, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.