Friday, March 7, 2014

Practical ideas from the Philadelphia Flower Show

I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show yesterday with Neighbor M. I haven't been in a couple of years but I had nothing else to do (spring break!) and thought it might be nice to see some flowers during this never-ending winter.

It's the only flower show I've ever been to so I'm not sure if my issues are with it or with flower shows in general. I've avoided it in past years because I always found it ostentatious with few practical ideas, super crowded, and really, there are only so many rhododendrons one can see. This year's theme was ARTiculture and many of the displays were interpretations of a particular painting or of the works of a particular artist. So, a lot of it was really out there. (And then, of course, there are those displays that don't even pretend to stick to the theme and do whatever they want.) Hellebores were apparently this year's rhodies, which was a sort of pleasant surprise.

As photos and show reviews are ubiquitous across the interwebs,  I'm not going to add yet another review of the show or of its grand displays. Instead, I made a conscious effort to seek out practical ideas that would inspire me in my own garden and will share those here.

Seating areas

I'm not a fan of my seating area or outdoor dining table in the back yard. Neither are comfortable and they stick out too much, and both are too big for my small space. I saw some ideas at the Flower Show that inspired me, though I'd certainly need to bring them down to scale.

In these first two photos, I liked the plantings behind the chairs (try to ignore the furniture itself. I'm not going for bright red!). I can dig out a foot or a foot and a half from the fence where the current outdoor table rests and then get a smaller table. Alternatively, I can group some pots behind the dining table and chairs.

There were also some nice bench ideas. One was on top of a wall (that I keep building in my dreams). The other was between two flower boxes.

And finally, there was a really great vignette of a dining table under a pergola. I've thought of putting up a pergola over my back patio and then growing vines up and over it. There's a lot going on in the picture as far as table settings, orchids, and hanging lights, but you get the idea.

Veggies and herbs

The next few pictures show some creative ways to grow veggies and herbs. I don't know that I'm going to run out and get a giant barrel in which to plant herbs (actually, I know I'm not going to) but it was nice to see the lushness of them all. I particularly like the basket of herbs.

Assorted design ideas

This final set of pictures has some random things I liked, from hardscaping to vertical planting.

Flower petal-inspired hardscaping:

Small flower beds in between a patio and some Belgian block:

A lush screen of evergreens (I'll pass on the Monet-inspired bridge):

A well-designed wall of vertical plantings:

I'd say this year's Philadelphia Flower Show was a success as far as practical inspiration goes. I can look back on these pictures and try to incorporate some of the ideas in my own tiny city garden. What about you? 'Tis the season for flower shows - do you attend any? Do you come away with any inspiration?