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. Lynette d'Arty-Cross March 21, 2023 / 1:13 am

    At first I read The Garden Eccentric, and my mind leapt to dozens of garden nomes teetering everywhere, plants trying to grow despite them. Then my brain decided to register properly the visual inputs, and I went on to enjoy your photos. What a great show. I can see why you enjoy it. Cheers.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Audrey Driscoll March 21, 2023 / 1:38 am

    I agree that those black-lit sculptures are striking, but not something you’d find in an ordinary garden. The Flower Show is partly an artistic exhibition, it seems.
    And thanks for pointing to Paddy Tobin’s blog!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 2:38 pm

      The Philadelphia Flower Show is a winner. The organizers probably are planning the 2024 show right now.


  3. Paula R.C. Readman March 21, 2023 / 3:01 am

    I would love to go to more gardening shows, but I would want to add more plants to my garden. I try to keep it very simple as I don’t have time to do everything I want.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 2:41 pm

      Gardening can take a whole lot of time, that’s for sure. Some people work 10 or more hours a week in their gardens.


  4. johnlmalone March 21, 2023 / 3:24 am

    I reckon we’ll see more floral posts in the future, Neil; you may even turn into a fully fledged gardener 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane Sturgeon March 21, 2023 / 3:53 am

    Lovely pics, Neil, and thanks for the link to Paddy’s blog. I need to grasp the nettle this year (pun intended!) and learn how to do this! 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Paddy Tobin March 21, 2023 / 4:19 am

    There were a few new visitors to my blog this morning, Neil and I wondered where they had come from. Now, I know! Many thanks. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s show has a wonderful reptutation and I would jump at the opportunity to visit if I could. We have travelled to London on a number of occasions to visit a similar event there, The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show. These shows are both inspiring and mind-boggling and are best treated simply as gardening entertainment. I must get writing now that you have expanded my audience! Get your fingers dirty!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. joylennick March 21, 2023 / 5:49 am

    Hola Neil, All flowers delight me, so thank you for the colourful photographs; and what a keen gardener Paddy is! My late father was a keen gardener too and favoured roses, especially the scented variety. Lovely memories…Keep well. Cheers. x

    Liked by 2 people

  8. swabby429 March 21, 2023 / 6:00 am

    The garden show looks fantastic. Meanwhile, I’m not much of a landscaper myself. Tackling the default Nebraska prairie soil is a job for someone much younger than me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 2:48 pm

      You know, I sort of enjoy the gardening that I do (mowing, raking, pruning, etc.), mostly because it’s pretty good exercise and it gets me out of the house.


  9. Robert Parker March 21, 2023 / 6:33 am

    Looks like an amazing show and some very artistic displays. You might start developing a green thumb with a small composter — chuck in banana peels, lawn clippings, a few handfuls of leaves, etc to put some good stuff back into the soil, the microbes do most of the work, no experience needed!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Michael Graeme March 21, 2023 / 6:41 am

    Good one, Neil. You sound like my kind of gardener. That indoor garden show is a new one to me. All ours are outdoors and it rains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 2:51 pm

      Because of covid, the Philadelphia Flower Show was held outdoors in a big park in 2021 and 2022. Rainy days cut down on attendance. The organizers were glad to be back indoors in 2023.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael Graeme March 21, 2023 / 3:34 pm

        Makes perfect sense. 🙂👍

        Liked by 1 person

  11. estricsek March 21, 2023 / 7:30 am

    Great story Neil. We had planned to go to the Garden Show one year. Our sound and his fiancé lived in Philadelphia at the time and we were going to visit for an all day affair, Garden Show and dinner. However the “Surekill” Expressway was particularly bad that day, it may have been Demo Derby Day, I don’t know but it took us almost 4 hours to drive the 50 or so miles from Exeter, PA. My wife and I toil each year; mulch, plant, prune, cut down, re-plant, grow veggies, etc. This year I am tasked with planting about a dozen Leland Spruce, I can hardly wait…. Maybe condo living is on the horizon….😉😁. Great story, best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Deb March 21, 2023 / 7:58 am

    Exhibitions like this are so much fun, historical as well depending on where you live often with heirloom plantings and the story behind them, and just beautifully inspiring. Did your walk through the plantings inspire you and Sandy Neil? Has the gardening fairy settled in and helping you plan changes for your own yard and garden? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Laurie Graves March 21, 2023 / 8:26 am

    I haven’t been to a flower show for a long time, but I remember how wonderful it was to see flowers abloom in March. A big treat when you live in Maine and there is still snow on the ground. I really liked the sculpture with tendrils. Both eerie and beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Helen Devries March 21, 2023 / 8:57 am

    I enjoyed the flower shows in the U.K. which always gave ideas for the garden, though the electric stuff at the flower show you attended did not do much for me.
    We used to garden when in France and on selling houses people would say how much they loved the gardens…but inevitably, after a year or so they found it too much work and down would go the turf over the lot.
    Anno domini and the knees have made for a sort of tropical wilderness here, which is enjoyable without the hard labour.
    Thanks for the link to Mr. Tobin’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gabychops March 21, 2023 / 9:11 am

    Thank you, Neil, for the honest admission about your minimal gardening skill.
    In my garden, there is a plague, a copy of the Roman inscription on the arc in Rome: “Who plants a garden, plants happiness.” Also, having thousand of plants and several trees, I eliminated pollution from my garden, despite being
    100 yards or so from the busy High Street, and can enjoy the scent of my flowers and fragrant clean air.
    “Flowers are the essence of the world,” said the last gardener of Aleppo,
    and this is my mantra too.
    We have here a famous Chelsey Flower Show and it is quite spectacular!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 3:00 pm

      Hey, Joanna. I remember a photo of your property in a recent story — very beautiful. By the way, if you haven’t already, take a look at some of the stories in Paddy Tobin’s blog. I think you’ll like the looks of his and his wife’s grounds.


  16. Platypus Man March 21, 2023 / 9:41 am

    I agree. Some people (Paddy, for example) are born to garden; others (you and me included!) are born to appreciate their efforts without getting our hands dirty!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Debra March 21, 2023 / 10:02 am

    Thanks for the Flower Show pictures. Mulch appreciated. :-}

    Liked by 1 person

  18. JOYCE HAMILTON March 21, 2023 / 10:15 am

    Great photos including Paddy’s garden. Looks like the show was wonderful. Didn’t have anyone to go with so was not there. Glad you enjoyed!!!!🌷🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Paula B March 21, 2023 / 10:17 am

    I love that the show’s name is a nod to Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric”! You’ve inspired me because I, too, am a fearful gardener and have pooh-pooh’d flower shows. Perhaps I’ll try one in the near future and hope for the blood pressure drop that you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jeff the Chef March 21, 2023 / 10:46 am

    I’ve been to that show, and it is indeed spectacular. Even if you’re not into gardening, it’s something to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jacqui Murray March 21, 2023 / 11:20 am

    I know what you mean about gardening. We’ve hired folks to redo the hard, maybe twice in 38 years. It needs it again and I’m not sure I care enough for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. liliannemilgrom March 21, 2023 / 11:59 am

    I’m about at your level regarding gardening though I occasionally have spurts of inspiration and motivation! Sometimes the plants make it and sometimes they don’t 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  23. David Brock March 21, 2023 / 1:29 pm

    Great post! The Philadelphia Flower Show sounds fantastic, especially the special exhibits. The wispy, tendrilled sculptures behind glass and bathed in black light are intriguing. I can understand why it pleased you the most. Have you ever considered taking up gardening or attending gardening workshops to overcome your intimidation?
    David Brock
    Philly Local Support

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Rosaliene Bacchus March 21, 2023 / 1:44 pm

    Beautiful, Neil! I haven’t been to a Flower Show for several years now. But I know that soothing feeling you speak of whenever I visit our local garden centers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. JT Twissel March 21, 2023 / 1:44 pm

    I love garden shows though like you, my gardening skills are limited to the necessary. I always get carried away and buy way too many plants and gizmos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 3:15 pm

      I planted vegetable and flower seeds when I was a kid. Since, then, I haven’t planted seeds or bought a plant. I’m only the most basic type of gardener!


  26. Ann Coleman March 21, 2023 / 1:56 pm

    I’m like you: I don’t have a gardener’s instincts or love for spending lots of time taking care of plants, but I do enjoy looking at the gardens of those who do. Thank goodness for parks, botanical gardens, and even just the yards of those who love gardening! They nice to see….just like your photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 3:20 pm

      You’re totally right — parks, botanical gardens, nice yards, etc. help to make the world a better place. There’s a great park in Philly called the Morris Arboretum. My wife and I should go there this year. Probably haven’t been there in about seven years.


  27. talebender March 21, 2023 / 2:55 pm

    Lovely story, snappy title. My wife and I visited the tulip festival in the Netherlands, plus the Royal greenhouses, and felt much the same pleasures.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Monkey's Tale March 21, 2023 / 4:20 pm

    I am not a gardener either but as you, I love other people’s gardens. The flower show looks beautiful, thanks for the colourful tour. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 5:06 pm

      A neighbor on my block has enormous azalea bushes on her grounds. I’m looking forward to their blossoming. They are absolutely amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. shoreacres March 21, 2023 / 9:14 pm

    I love flowers and flowering trees, but I’m not a gardener at all, and not inclined toward garden shows. On the other hand, every spare minute I have is spent wandering nature’s garden: learning about our native plants, photographing them, talking to them, boring my friends with tidbits about them…. You get the picture. I suspect if I had an actual house I would do a bit of planting, but with a small apartment, I satisfy myself with a couple of pots of nice annuals, and then head back to the fields!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 21, 2023 / 10:57 pm

      There’s nothing like being in wide-open Nature. It never ceases to amaze. And there always are many things to learn. We live on an incredible planet.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Joni March 21, 2023 / 11:28 pm

    I’m so longing for spring, so any peek at flowers is appreciated. I used to love to garden but I’m downsizing again this year – it’s too much work and the summers have become too hot – I sound like an old person but I am an old person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 22, 2023 / 6:45 am

      Hi Joni. Right, working outdoors in high temperatures is no fun. I’m not a fan of that either. Thanks for adding your thoughts. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Anonymous March 22, 2023 / 6:56 am

    Lovely pics. I am the worst when it comes to gardening. Guaranteed, anything green I touch will NOT be green for long.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Ken Dowell March 22, 2023 / 10:03 am

    My gardening skills are about the same. It’s a good year if I’ve managed to pull most of the weeds.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. mariezhuikov March 22, 2023 / 10:03 am

    I used to have a knack for houseplants, but that died after I had children and had to keep them alive instead. I do try now, with outdoor gardens, but the deer often eat the best of my efforts. It’s so nice others have gardens and green thumbs we can enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 22, 2023 / 5:46 pm

      Speaking of plant life: I went for a long walk with a friend today through parts of Philadelphia. It’s only March 22, yet many flowering trees were in blossom.


      • mariezhuikov March 23, 2023 / 9:55 am

        Thanks for rubbing in the fact that you are getting a spring. In Duluth, spring is buried in about 5 feet of snow.

        Liked by 1 person

  34. Misti March 22, 2023 / 10:08 am

    You’ve just gotta get out there and realize you’ll make mistakes! I’ve been gardening over 20 years and still make mistakes. Flower shows are one place that I typically don’t really like to go for some reason. I think they all look the same to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 22, 2023 / 5:48 pm

      Hey, Misti. One good thing about the Philadelphia Flower Show is that there’s a new theme each year. So, the exhibits are very different each year. That might be a big reason why the show is very popular.


  35. annieasksyou March 22, 2023 / 12:06 pm

    After my husband and I spent several days a few years ago trying to plant bulbs in our rock-filled back yard amid tons of tree roots–only to find most of the bulbs didn’t bloom because the squirrels thought they were tasty morsels–we hired a landscaper. Expensive, yes, but better results! Thanks for another nice visit, Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. eden baylee March 22, 2023 / 3:21 pm

    I love gardening, but I think you do as well, Neil — just in a different way. You can obviously appreciate beauty and gardens and colour and growth and life.

    Even if you never plant a flower in the ground, your enthusiasm for gardens is still a contribution to life.

    Having said that, plant a small patch and see what happens. You have to start somewhere!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. KarenS. March 22, 2023 / 3:50 pm

    I feel your intimidation! Put my chainsaw in my hands on top of a roof during a structure fire to cut ventilation holes, I’m your gal! Put that same chainsaw in my hands and set my in front of my own shrubs and I’m suddenly a babbling idiot without a clue *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 22, 2023 / 5:52 pm

      Hi Karen. Thanks for visiting. Yeah, there’s something about gardening that weakens our confidence. Oh well, we do what we can do. See ya!


  38. Fairy Qu33n March 23, 2023 / 10:34 am

    This show is fantastic 😍😍😍 here in Italy, where I live, there are gardening event but noyo so big and exiciting 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  39. J P March 23, 2023 / 1:10 pm

    Like you, if I am a gardener it is only because Marianne likes gardening less than I do. I’m thinking about a plan to become “that house” – you know, the one where everyone drives by and wonders if the owner is still alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 23, 2023 / 4:34 pm

      When we bought our current home in 2005, “that house” was at the end of our block. What a mess! There are new owners now, who had a huge task to get the place into decent shape.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Jan Milusich March 23, 2023 / 5:42 pm

    I’ve never been to a flower show. It sounds and looks like it was a delight to the eye.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Ally Bean March 23, 2023 / 5:49 pm

    I always enjoy garden shows, whether they be formal ones or looking at my neighbor’s yard. Once upon a time I was VERY into gardening but now I consider it a spectator sport.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. alhenry March 23, 2023 / 10:13 pm

    “…such as the display of wispy, tendrilled sculptures, behind glass and bathed in black light.” Definitely my favorite here! We have a number of smaller spring garden shows at the various greenhouses on college campuses around here, and they do get you psyched for the color and rich greenery of spring. I am a gardener (though I don’t know the names of that many plants–I choose with a “artist’s eye,” i.e., that which appeals to me at any particular moment. Also, hear you about the bags and bags and… of autumn leaves. Thirty is our usual number (and we have a very small lot).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 24, 2023 / 7:28 am

      Hi there, Amy. I have you beat when it comes to leaves. This past autumn/winter I gathered up more than ever before. More than half of them came from trees on neighboring lots.

      Liked by 1 person

      • alhenry March 24, 2023 / 10:34 am

        LOL Neil, you are WELCOME to be the winner on the autumn leaves raking. As for neighboring trees, I hear you!

        Liked by 1 person

  43. cigarman501 March 25, 2023 / 11:09 am

    Going to shows like that makes me sad…I am better at killing flora than growing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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