By Jill Brooke
The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the nation’s largest, and the world’s longest-running horticultural event since 1827, is now taking place until June 19th.
Since last year, the show has shifted from being a floral extravaganza to more of a landscape design showcase since moving outdoors due to Covid.
Titled “In Full Bloom,” this year the roster of designers will be larger than in previous years, with 40 major exhibitors creating forward-thinking and progressive designs for large-scale gardens between 900 – 2,500 square feet as well as dozens of smaller garden spaces ranging in size from 254 – 899 square feet.
It literally is a design laboratory for anyone thinking about their garden. Last year’s event was a blueprint for many 2022 design ideas as this one will be for next year.
As usual, Bill Schaffer and Kris Kratt of Schaffer Designs created a jaw-dropping enchanting structure that invokes fantasy and fun. They often win gold medals around the world.
Their work just consistently delights. Look at what they did with anthuriums.
Our friend Jennifer Reed of Jennifer Design Events decided to do a theme inspired by dancing. Utilizing artwork created by @belovely_co, flower and foliage supplies from @ferntrustinc and @owletfarms and @dvflora, she even created a fun dance mix with a DJ booth full of flowers.
“I’m calling it Rhythm & Bloom,” she tells us. “We often think of plants as being sedentary, bound by their roots, but when we take a closer look, we notice that they are in constant motion, unfurling their fronds, elongating their stems and grooving and moving to reach the sunlight.”
This exhibit features an array of native plant species as well as orchids, succulents, moss, ferns, fresh cut florals and foliage, as well as dried floral elements using Amaranthus, strawflower, baby’s breath, limonium, and palms.
Love that sentiment.
As Seth Pearsoll, PHS Director of Design shared, renowned landscape architect Martha Schwartz, a Forbes 2021 “50 Over 50” recipient debuted an 1,800- square foot display depicting the beauty of the mushroom. “The garden centers around an eye-catching, oversized giant flower sculpture made from mushrooms,” he explains. “This exhibit explores the resiliency of mushroom species which — unlike most flowers — tend to thrive in damp, cold, and dark conditions and play a vital role for all living things through recycling dead organic matter and giving us the life-saving medicine penicillin.”
Our friend Wambui Ippolito, the noted landscape designer and one of Veranda magazine’s 2021 “Eleven Revolutionary Female Landscape Designers and Architects You Should Know,” returned to defend her 2021 Flower Show trophy for “Best in Show” with another show-stopping display. Her garden features a spiraling structure, rimmed with colorful florals, and centered with a reflection pool to allow space for peaceful meditation.
However, it was Mark Cook from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, who won “Best in Show 2022” with this installation invoking meadows and inner sanctuaries. Judges liked the variety and abundance of so many. plants that this veteran landscape designer used. His innovative designs involving waves of colors, the lushness of textures, and so many playful plants have won him awards here for the past 12 years.
Polycarp Flowers, whom I met as a judge for New York’s Fleurs de Villes show at Hudson Yards, designed an exhibit that explores good health and positive wellbeing, through crafting elaborate, vibrant floral hairstyles. This exhibit, “What’s on Your Mind,” invites viewers to reflect on their state of mind by creating oversized facial silhouettes, topped with floral afros, whose colors will represent different mental states.
Apiary Studio, landscape architecture and experimental horticulture firm, is known for its unconventional building materials, adaptive reuse of urban decay, and unusual selections of hardy plants to create dynamic gardens. Their exhibit will take inspiration from an unused industrial setting, where plants are starting to overtake and return the space back to a wild state. At the focal center will be an old water tower, which will offer a familiar urban silhouette and stand tall over the wild gardens surrounding it. This exhibit will demonstrate gravel gardening techniques, as well as a number of plantings at the height of their late Spring display, such as: Crambe maritima, Linaria purpurea, Glaucium flavum, and Euphorbia characias.
I personally also liked what Arrange Floral did with this installation and the use of strings to create intrigue to look at flowers in new ways.
All the designs often use structures in conventional and non-conventional materials cushioned with beautiful flowers in a rainbow of colors. Since gardens are now our sanctuaries, this is a one-stop place to see all the innovation around the country.
More awards will be given out shortly and we will report on all the news for you. But for now, enjoy these selections and talents.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD, floral editor for Aspire Design and Home magazine and contributor to Florists Review magazine.