Everyday Gardeners

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Philadelphia Flower Show 2013

Last week I escaped the freezing rain and melting snow that seems to define March in Iowa to attend the Philadelphia Flower Show in our City of Brotherly Love. The 2013 theme was “Brilliant” for all things decidedly British. There was a handsome new million-dollar Hamilton Horticourt for plant competitions, which historically were the reason the show was started in 1829.

According to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the show’s producer, the plant entries have doubled in the last decade to almost 6,000. PHS president Drew Becher attributes this to “younger competitors, high school garden clubs, and college students who’ve had success growing herbs on the kitchen windowsill, and garden clubs and social media spreading the word,” he says. “It’s become sexy again.” Check out the size of this yellow clivia in the Horticourt.

We’ve always thought plant competitions were sexy around here. But I also loved seeing more emphasis on organic gardening, native plants, and wildlife habitats, and a growing culinary presence under the general theme of “From Garden to Table.” However, the centerpiece of the flower show was a high-tech recreation of Big Ben with palace gates and a fast-paced video with rock music, flashing lights, and iconic images such as the royal family and the Beatles.

Loved bumping into my old friend Jerry Fritz from Linden Hill gardens in Ottsville, Pennsylvania. That’s us above catching up in front of his retail display. I also loved meeting Trenny Robb and Bob Michaud of Sutton, Vermont. They make the coolest custom Arts and Crafts lamps out of copper and brass with mica lampshades embedded with plants and petals from their own garden. Here’s the first one that caught my eye made the leaves of Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla).

Their business is called High Beams ( They also had lampshades with bloodroot, horsetail, Solomon’s seal, grapevine, even maidenhair fern. Don’t be surprised if you read about them in a future issue of Country Gardens.

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