Flora Galore!

I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned in at least one or two earlier stories that I ain’t an ace when it comes to gardening. I garden, but only in a utilitarian sense. That is, I mow the lawn surrounding my house as needed. I gather up shitloads of fallen leaves each autumn and winter and put them out for collection. I pull out weeds. I prune shrubs and trees as best I can to keep them from becoming crazily overgrown. And . . . well, that’s about it.

In other words, I don’t plant or transplant. I don’t fertilize or otherwise nurture. I don’t attempt to expand or reconfigure the placements of flora on my grounds. Thus, the grounds look more or less as they did in 2005, the year my wife Sandy (who is not a gardener at all) and I bought our house, except that several shrubs and one tree have bitten the dust since then, as have numerous flowers. Still, things look okay overall. To my eye, anyway. A facelift definitely wouldn’t hurt though, or a few changes simply for change’s sake.

So, what’s holding me back from engaging in meaningful gardening? Indifference, for one thing. And a bigger factor: It intimidates me. Meaning, I’m afraid I’d mess things up badly were I to thrust my hands into the soil. Yes, where gardening is concerned, I’m a f*cking wuss.

However, I’m happy to report that both Sandy and I are keen appreciators of other people’s efforts to create and maintain attractively designed grounds. Who isn’t? Those endeavors, after all, are artistic enterprises and expressions. It almost goes without saying, then, that we had a fine time earlier this month at the annual Philadelphia Flower Show, a famous event organized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The show began quietly in 1829 and has, over time, become a big deal. Out of ignorance, I used to thumb my nose at the Flower Show. I wised up in 2016, the first year I attended. Our visit this month was my fourth and Sandy’s fifth.

We arrived at the show, held in Philadelphia’s cavernous convention center, on the third day of its nine-day run. The show’s theme, which changes each year, was The Garden Electric. As that name implies, bold lighting was woven into many of the sights. I think that the show organizers also opted for the word electric in order to get folks psyched for the upcoming spring season’s unfoldings and blossomings.

The premises were plenty crowded. I was happy to see that mobility issues didn’t keep some people away, as canes, walkers, wheelchairs and motorized scooters abounded. Babies in strollers and carriages were on the scene too. All of which made for a welcoming environment, though the size of the crowd meant that long lines awaited Sandy and me at some of the special exhibits.

The waits were worth it, as the special exhibits, for me, were what the event was all about. (I had no interest in the sections of the floor where potted plants, sitting on tables, had been judged and awarded ribbons, or the enormous section where plants, horticultural tools and tons of other products were for sale.)

Tulips, daffodils, hyacinth
Dense vegetation near the winding path

Many of the special exhibits were either gardens or less-structured landscapes, all of their flora anchored in soil. It was easy to forget that these displays were mounted on a concrete floor. I immediately took a liking to the swath of lawn blessed by hundreds of tulips, daffodils and hyacinth, whose punchy colors rocked. And I was an even bigger fan of the mini-woods, which was dense with vegetation and alive with fragrances. I ambled along its winding path, my blood pressure dropping with every step. Soothing, man, soothing.

Part of the exhibit of wispy, tendrilled sculptures

Other special exhibits left the world of reality pretty much behind, such as the display of wispy, tendrilled sculptures, behind glass and bathed in black light. That exhibit, in fact, pleased me more than anything I saw during the three and a half hours Sandy and I spent at the show. It was very cool. Yes, there is no doubt I’ve become a believer in the Philadelphia Flower Show. If all goes as planned, Sandy and I will return for the 2024 edition.

I’m going to conclude the proceedings with a nod to a blog I enjoy: Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener (click here to view it). Unlike me, Paddy and his wife are masterful gardeners. The grounds of their home look great, due to their hard work and artistic vision. A stroll through Paddy’s blog will show you what I mean. Enjoy!

154 thoughts on “Flora Galore!

  1. denisebushphoto March 25, 2023 / 12:39 pm

    The Flower Show is another thing I miss about living near Philly. I saw a lot of Flower Show photos from them after the show on Facebook. It is hard to do any gardening here in Colorado. We have tons of deer and other critters that eat everything, even when fenced in. I have some pots on my upper deck and that’s it. We actually have been taking shrubs away from our house for fire mitigation. Great write-up on this year’s Flower Show experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 25, 2023 / 4:37 pm

      Hey, Denise. Because of covid, the show was outdoors in FDR Park in 2021 and 2022. Rainy days were real bad for attendance. The organizers were glad to be back indoors this year.


  2. andrewcferguson March 26, 2023 / 3:35 pm

    One thing I don’t miss about gardening since we moved from our house with a much larger garden – the hard work, often in very low temperatures! Garden shows like the one you expertly higghlight in your article are an agreeable way of staying in touch with the whole thing. Edinburgh’s Botanics are a special place too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. alison41 March 27, 2023 / 10:01 am

    Enjoyed your Flower Show post, and thanks for the link to the Irish Gardener.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lori Pohlman March 27, 2023 / 10:44 pm

    I am a wannabe gardener. I had some success living by a river in Wisconsin, not so much in the mountains of California or Nevada. It is so thrilling to see your plants thrive when it happens. We have town mule deer where I live now, and they are very athletic-no fence is too high for them, and they eat everything. They are adorable though, and who am I to deny them fresh produce?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pam Lazos March 28, 2023 / 1:51 pm

    EPA used to have a booth at the flower show that I worked at for years doing the set up. It was super fun. The flower show is a Philly institution!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. D. Wallace Peach March 29, 2023 / 9:40 am

    That garden show sounds beautiful, Neil. I’d get so many ideas, and then I’d sigh all the way home because my garden sounds like yours… and I don’t care enough (or have the $$) to do anything about it. Also, like you, I marvel at the beautifully designed and maintained gardens of neighbors with lots of energy and a green thumb. Thanks for the beautiful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. rkrontheroad March 30, 2023 / 4:09 pm

    Lovely! Living at high altitude, I have an excuse for not cultivating a garden. You already do more grounds keeping than I do! This time of year I drive down to Denver and the flatlands to visit flowers, and happy to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Linda Pearce Griffin April 2, 2023 / 5:11 pm

    Sounds like you’ve got plenty of inspiration and there are always seasoned gardeners to give advice. Be brave. Dive into something new. I’m certainly no Master Gardner but I have asked advice and taken a chance on many plants, flowers, trees, shrubs over the years. Some things worked out. Others didn’t. Our yard and gardens have been an ever evolving process. I’ve learned a lot in my adventures – what works for me, what doesn’t, what loves shade, what loves sun, what comes back hale and hearty, and what will only make it through one growing season. You’re smart and resourceful. I think you will have fun should you put your mind and thumb to it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 2, 2023 / 8:59 pm

      Hi there. I know that what you say is accurate and is good advice. But at my advanced age I doubt that serious gardening is in my future. There are a bunch of other things I prefer to spend my time on. Anyway, many thanks for adding your thoughts. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Pearce Griffin April 2, 2023 / 9:20 pm

        Well, maybe you could just plant something in a pot if the urge to garden overtakes you. Otherwise, go enjoy life – doing whatever pleases you! Happy Spring!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. ckennedy April 2, 2023 / 8:02 pm

    Lovely photos! I’m also definitely an admirer of other gardeners’ work. I can’t do it myself–and I lack the motivation, but I definitely can appreciate from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Shelley@QuaintRevival.com April 3, 2023 / 6:03 am

    Ah……………….it was so fun to see the colorful flowers. I’m jealous, I don’t think we have anything like that event close to where I live. I think with a few hours’ drive I could go to an arboretum to see flowers though. Thanks for sharing what you saw, I could see looking forward to that event every year! Happy April to you and Sandy! Get that mower handy…green grass will need some of your TLC soon. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      • Shelley@QuaintRevival.com April 4, 2023 / 6:37 am

        YAY! Enjoy your first of many lawn mowing days! PS – I’m jealous and ready to see green growing grass. But, then again, I don’t have to do the mowing. 🤔😂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. kegarland April 3, 2023 / 5:29 pm

    I hear you, Neil. This is why my hubby and I live in a townhome lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. cincinnatibabyhead April 6, 2023 / 12:45 am

    My ignorance with horticulture is equalled by no one. I do like all the little green and flowery things. though. Ask me to pick the weed or the plant, flower, it’s a 50/50 deal. My gal would love the show. CB might score some points if I attended with her.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. iglengel April 12, 2023 / 6:51 am

    I, like you, am no gardener. I maintain so as to not look terrible compared to other lawns and plants on the block.. great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. stargazer April 16, 2023 / 11:22 am

    The Philadelphia Flower Show looks like a nice event. Like you, I have limited (non-existing?) gardening skills, but I appreciate the skills of others. Japanese gardens are my favourites, there is something relaxing and mindful about them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Layla Todd April 20, 2023 / 11:33 am

    I have always wanted to go to a flower show as I love the flower section at nurseries. It is amazing to see the variety of flowers and to stop and smell their fragrances! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Silver Screenings April 23, 2023 / 5:37 pm

    Spring is having a slow ind indecisive start where I live, so your photos of these beautiful blooms was like a tonic. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Stuart Danker April 30, 2023 / 9:39 am

    Lol I love how you set up the event so well through your own gardening experiences. I myself am the furthest I can be from a green thumb. I’ve even given up the fight against the weeds and just hire someone to chop them (can’t use herbicides because we have a dog, and I’ve tried yanking them but they can grow faster than I can weed). Anyhoo, I like your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. TRAILBLAZER May 9, 2023 / 4:49 pm

    “I garden, but only in a utilitarian sense”. It’s quite good. Keep going and enjoy. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

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