‘ARTiculture’ – Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

– Posted in: Garden Musings

‘ARTiculture’ – Philadelphia Flower Show 2014 – begins today and runs through March 9th.

In the grand hallway, Subaru, a long time sponsor of the show, has created a compelling and whimsical recyclable garden.

Subaru's Recyclable Garden

Subaru’s Recyclable Garden

Notice how the lattices in the walls are made of old bed springs. How cool is that?

Subaru Recyclable Garden

Subaru Recyclable Garden

The entrance garden of ARTiculture is inspired by the paintings and sculptures of Alexander Calder. The gardens consist of topiary shapes, sculpted trees, rounded boxwood and a plethora of suspended elements that are reminiscent of Calder’s mobiles.

The King's Feast Centerpiece at Philadelphia Flower Show

‘Entrance garden inspired by Alexander Calder paintings and sculptures

Surfaces are made of fresh and dried flowers, grasses, stone, glass and art forms.

'The King's Feast' Centerpiece

‘The King’s Feast’ Centerpiece

BANDALOOP, a California-based vertical dance troupe that has performed on the sides of skyscrapers, bridges, cliffs, can be seen doing their artistry like a giant Calder mobile. I was lucky enough to see them in action today. To say they were breathtaking is an understatement.

Live Performance at Centerpiece Exhibit

Live Performance at Centerpiece Exhibit


Live Performer at Centerpiece Exhibit

Live Performer at Centerpiece Exhibit

Several years ago, I worked with Jock Christie, the great Scottish gardener, at Doe Run Garden who won several ribbons for both Sir John Thouron and other well known Delaware and Brandywine  gardening dynasties. Even today, one of  his several entries, Clivia ‘Sir John Thouron’ is considered an exceptional plant.

Below are a few entries for judging by novice and professional gardeners. This is one of my favorite areas of the flower show.

Arpo gigantea

Arpo gigantea


Denedelactum 'Mt. Airy'

Denedelactum ‘Mt. Airy’

Steve Tobin is a Bucks Country sculptor whose work exemplifies his connection to the natural world. He is best known for his large works in bronze, steel, glass and ceramics. A well known work, ‘Trinity Root’, a bronze piece at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City, is a casting of the 80 year old sycamore tree which fell and protected the chapel on September 11, 2001.

Exploded Earth by Steve Tobin

Exploded Earth by Steve Tobin


Steve Tobin's Exploded Earth

Steve Tobin’s Exploded Earth

Michael Petrie, of Michael Petrie Handmade Gardens, has created a display inspired by works of Henri Matisse at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. I really loved this design. I found the simplicity of the plantings juxtapositioned with the flamboyant brightly colored wood cut outs compelling.

Michael Petrie's Display derived from works by Henri Matisse

Michael Petrie’s Display derived from works by Henri Matisse


Michael Petrie display inspired by Matisse woodcuts

Michael Petrie display inspired by Matisse woodcuts

Competitions from area high schools for vertical wall designs.

High School Interpretation of Vertical Gardens

High School Interpretation of Vertical Gardens


Vertical Garden 'Urban Oasis' - Lower Merion High School

Vertical Garden ‘Urban Oasis’ – Lower Merion High School

Paintings interpreted by students from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Interpret a painting by student at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Interpret a painting by student at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts


Interpret a painting by student at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Interpret a painting by student at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts


Several more photos to follow over the next couple of days!

ADDENDUM on March 4, 2014 – Centerpiece of show photographed on Saturday night, March 1st, before closing when the crowds had dwindled.

Calder inspired centerpiece

Philadelphia Flower Show -Calder Inspired Centerpiece


Up close of large red sphere at Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show Centerpiece


Philly Flower Show Calder Inspired

Philadelphia Flower Show Centerpiece


Philly Flower Show - whimsy and color

Philadelphia Flower Show- whimsy and color


Centerpiece at Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show Calder Inspired Centerpiece


Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
21 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Audrey March 1, 2014, 7:44 am

Wow! Your photographs of the Philadelphia Show were great! Hoping that you’ll post some more of them since I won’t be able to visit the Show.

michaele anderson March 1, 2014, 8:16 am

As much as I love plants, I also love garden surprises of interesting and/or unexpected art work. My brain was particularly jazzed by Exploded Earth. Definitely looking to all the other pictures you plan to share from this exceptional garden show.

Susan March 1, 2014, 9:18 am

The Matisse woodcuts are awesome!

Jan Johnsen March 1, 2014, 9:39 am

What a fantastic post! And the show looks like such artful fun. Thanks for letting us all see what delights are in Philly.

Dee Sewell March 2, 2014, 12:58 pm

Goodness! Your flower shows are fantastic! Make ours here in Ireland look very traditional. I love the recycled garden at the beginning – a topic after my own heart.

Grace W. March 2, 2014, 5:02 pm

Glad to see my old high school, Lower Merion, made it into the vertical gardening category. Impressive.

Catherine March 2, 2014, 8:43 pm

Thanks Fran – a great round-up. I thought I’d seen pretty much all there was to do with recycled/reuse gardens but that Suburu garden has some fantastic new ideas. Who would have thought old bed springs could look so good?

Les March 3, 2014, 10:39 am

I made it there on opening day as well and took some of the same photos. I hope to have a post up as soon as I recover from being inadvertently groped by thousands of complete strangers who were trying to see the same things.

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:22 am

Just returned from Philly yesterday. I have several dozen more photos that won’t get posted. I agree about the subaru garden. I found it to be totally inspirational and ‘current’. The other garden that used recyclable materials and sustainable techniques in a more woodland setting with a house as a centerpiece is Temple University’s Dept. of Landscape Architecture – 16 students actually designed it. If I get the time to go through my photos, I’ll try to post it. IT WAS AWESOME!! Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:23 am

Les- That is the problem with flower shows. I find them to be totally overwhelming and exhausting. The concept of an indoor flower show is paradoxical – but it is what it is. Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:25 am

Yes- isn’t it wonderful to see high school students involved in creating these gardens? It brought a huge smile to my face. Pass the word on that you alma mater is doing some good stuff when it comes to gardening!!: ) Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:27 am

Dee – I know. I am in LOVE with that garden designed by Subaru. I am initiating an urban community garden this spring in Philly. Believe me, I will be looking to that garden for design inspiration. I’ve never been to a flower show in Ireland but your gardens – what can I say??? Extraordinary is an understatement 🙂 Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:29 am

Jan – An old gardening friend of mine from Philly who is now on the West coast asked my opinion of this year’s show. I haven’t yet answered because it is the first time in several years that I am pausing, reflecting, and thinking to myself that this show wasn’t the ‘same old, same old’. It was fun, exuberant, and filled with great energy! Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:30 am

Susan- Agreed. Can you imagine them in a home or community garden??? Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:32 am

Michaele – I just returned from Philadelphia and am beginning to sift through and re-size. Exploded Earth rocked my world as well….without sounding hokey, it is truly a world within itself. Am glad you’re enjoying! Look on my FB page – fransorin- as I continue to upload more pictures.:) Fran

Fran Sorin March 5, 2014, 2:34 am

Audrey – Just returned from Philly yesterday. Will continue to post more photos on my FB page if not here. If you’re not my friend, friend me so that you cn see them – Have several dozen more to share. It just takes time to organize and re-size 🙂 Fran

Cathy Taughinbaugh March 5, 2014, 1:00 pm

Thanks Fran for sharing the pictures from the Philadelphia Show! Great to see and always good inspiration. I loved the table with bicycle wheels in the Subaru garden and the springs in the window! I love seeing the creativity that people can come up with and how great to get the high schools involved! I wonder if there is anything like that in the San Francisco area. Appreciate seeing your pictures! Take care.

thomas March 6, 2014, 3:40 am

really great work fran am fall in love with your snaps….i hope you share more pics…am owner of one of the gardening service company so am more happy with your flowers…

Fran Sorin March 6, 2014, 4:33 am

Thanks Thomas. Am glad you enjoyed. Will check out your website! Fran

Fran Sorin March 6, 2014, 4:35 am

The Subaru garden was at the top of my list. For home gardeners- it was a fount of great ideas. Your SF Flower Show is going to be outstanding this year. A dear friend of mine, Chris Woods, is at the helm. He is extraordinarily creative and pushes boundaries. If I were in the states, I’d hop a plane from Philly and go to it. Fran

Nancy March 7, 2014, 3:01 pm

I and my friends were very disappointed with the show. We went to see beautiful flowers not modern articulture. It was not pretty at all and the awful weed garden was just a plain insult on human intellegence. What a total waste of money. Don’t think we will attend again. Will try a different one. I heard many people make the same comments as I walked around. What was with the many dead or dying flowers? I’ve gone when it was just beautiful. Not this year!!!!

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