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.)
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.
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!