A Jolt of Inspiration at Philadelphia Flower Show’s “The Garden Electric”

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The theme of this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show was “The Garden Electric,” but participants veered into the eccentric and the edible, with exhibitions that gave a jolt of inspiration.

From a giant panda bear, to a sun hat, to a bakery filled with floral cakes and donuts — this internationally known event proves yet again that the human imagination and flowers work very well together indeed.

Upon entering the Philadelphia Convention Center, I was greeted by FloraStruck, the entrance garden — a massive wall of botanical varieties illuminated by vivid florescent lighting. Hundreds of orchid pots were suspended upside down from the ceiling, reminding me of the observation from Edgar Allen Poe that anything truly beautiful must have something unusual about it.

FloraStruck at the entrance to the show.

FloraStruck was designed to remind us of that “extraordinary moment when one is overcome with joy or awe in seeing or receiving unexpected beauty,” as the signage explained.

“Struck” was how I felt as I made my way around the exhibitions, gawking with other revelers — many creating queues fifty deep to see masterworks like “Electric Bulbs,” an astonishing field of tulips by Jacques Amand of London, or “Chandelier,” a giant riot of colors by Arrange, Floral and Event Design in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Tulips by Jacques Amand of London.

“Chandelier” by Arrange, Floral and Event Design in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

A bird mural by Kyng Rhodes accompanied the display of Indiana’s Newfields, and a lone dove sat on the cherry blossom tree of Portland firm Treeline Designz, who used their exhibition, called “In Search of Peace,” to convey the power of nature to bring hope, even in times of war.

Treeline Designz’s “In Search of Peace.”

Mural by Kynge Rhodes of Indiana.

The panda, probably my favorite, added a bit of levity. He’s not here to make a statement about art or politics, but just wants to have fun and be a happy ambassador for Chengdu, China’s panda encounter region.

Good for him, I thought.

The panda, a happy ambassador for Chengdu, China.

The power of horticulture …

Similarly “Eye Candy” from Schaffer Designs treated the viewer to confectionery delights with a floral twist.

“Eye Candy” by Schaffer Designs of Philadelphia …

“Mama’s Hat” by Emy Flowers in Mohopac, New York was in honor of a Barbados grandmother who never did her gardening without her trusted millinery.

“Mama’s Hat” by Emy Flowers in Mohopac, New York

The next generation of gardeners tried their hands at digging — in deep troughs with worms — at the outside area for children of which there were many. The show is a definite family affair.

Future gardeners in worm trough.

I spotted many a youngster in the butterfly hut where whimsical winged creatures clung to you. (Staff with handy butterfly nets were on standby in case the butterflies lingered a little too long.)

Under the Butterfly Hut …

After spending several hours gazing wondrously at the natural world — in all its electric glory — I hope there will be some of it left behind for the children who attended.

This event, whether consciously or not, is a stark reminder that nature is here for us to enjoy — but also to protect.

A few days later on March 8th, International Women’s Day, Edward and Eve Lemon hosted a dinner party at the City Tavern Club for biographer and Royal Family expert Hugo Vickers, who regaled us with stories of the late Queen Elizabeth II and the powerful example she set not only for women — but for everyone — as the most respected head of state of her time.

Hugo Vickers, center, with Edward and Eve Lemon. A portrait of Abigail Adams hangs behind.
Dr. Richard Meyer, Hugo Vickers, and Stephanie Green. Photos: Jeremy Long

In a nearby parlor in the historic club was a portrait of another formidable matriarch, Abigail Adams, whose husband would often dine there.

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