Longwood and the Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

IMG_0451Kathy Stokes Shaffer, APLD,  recently enjoyed a special behind the scenes tour of the Philadelphia Garden Show and shared here experience seen from the eyes of a perceptive landscape designer.

Upon entering Longwood Gardens with snow on the ground, I was struck by the majesty and size of the old trees on the grounds. There is nothing like the tracery of the branches against the sky to truly appreciate a trees structure and form. The main focus of the trip was the greenhouses –4 acres under glass.




The intoxicating smell of pink Asiatic lilies hits you as you first enter the greenhouse. The staff at Longwood is suburb at combining textures, colors and forms to stimulate all your senses




They played with tone on tone , contrasting colors and with large masses of color for visual effect.. Opposites flower forms next to each other created more drama. Spikey flowers with rounded forms might be something you try in your gardens this summer. Even the flooring around the displays mimicked the plant forms around it. The leaves are very subtle, but how nice would that be in a client’s garden, maybe extending out from a column associated with an overhead structure.


The next day was the Philadelphia Flower Show. Over 200,000 people visit this show annually. I believe it is the biggest indoor flower show in the United States. This year the show focused on art for it’s inspiration. There were very few gardens that I could glean ideas from to apply to my own garden creations. One could not walk into the gardens as we can at our show to look at things closer. There were a few images that I thought were usable and interesting

Living wall art. Thought this might be great on a fence, or on the side of the house for a focal point.This was three metal cutouts put into a 6” by 6” wood beam. Left- is a close-up of the construction. Loved this. Notice the paving as well in leaf form. Wow.








The other fun image was fabric hanging from a painted wood frame. I think this idea came from the fabric installation in Central Park, N.Y. What cool ways could you use this?





This was about a 10’ metal circle with white rope strung from hooks on the inside of the circle. The pink is orchids, and the center soft green form is made of leaves to simulate a mirrored pottery form. There must be some way to use this idea. Maybe as a backdrop to a Jacuzzi and have it lit up at night.



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