More than tulips, this week’s Philadelphia Flower Show (www.theflowershow.com) offers a look at Dutch history and a vision for the future.
I assumed this year’s theme “Holland, Flowering the World,” would present a wondrous display of tulips, daffodils and all things Holland. I was correct. The central feature delights the eye with gorgeous drifts of tulips skirting the replicas of canals and bridges.An innovative curtain using vases of flowers mesmerizes visitors as they enter the show. Blue and white delft tiles with painted windmills line the underside of the bridge with succulents connecting the panel sections. A creative use of the plants, succulents have been a hot garden trend for the past few years and are not disappearing anytime soon.The next surprise was seen in the interpretation of the Dutch New Wave movement of landscape design. Mixing Holland’s trademark tulips and daffodils with a diverse selection of annuals, perennials and wild and ornamental grasses in a naturalistic landscape exudes sustainability and renewal.Leading Dutch designers were invited to participate in this show. I had the pleasure of meeting two of the designers as they put on the finishing touches the evening before the opening.Niko Wissing explained his use of natural “architecture” in combination with his philosophy of the value of green, living elements used to create an oasis of peace. Reconnecting with nature whether in a private garden or public space minimizes the effects of the built environment.”Rainwater provides the source for all living elements” he said.And the exhibit shows how to connect the overhead gutter collection of water using a rain chain into a natural channel to irrigate the landscape. While people relax on the sun deck, the water provides soothing music to heal the day’s stress.Touted as “a visionary in green” in the Netherlands, Niko’s design, titled “Reconnection,” weaves “sustainable materials with human functioning for well-being.”Carrie Preston offers a look at the unique plant communities used in traditional Dutch estate gardens. Carrie’s exhibit “Stinze” interprets the gardens surrounding the brick manor houses and “marries Dutch cultural heritage – embodied in brickwork and lacework – with the exuberance of spring and raw American energy.”The chain-link fence, the designers’ expression of lacework, elevates the functional into beauty. One could transcend this concept to an urban contemporary design within the confines of a small fenced-in space, typical of many city backyards.The narrow view opens to a lush garden that could be replicated with a vacant lot or shared property. The estate lawn of spring flowering bulbs was under last-minute construction at the time I visited. I cannot wait to see how it was completed when I make a return visit to the show this week.Bart Hoes created “The Sustainable Roof Garden” in his urban living exhibit. Blending herbs, edible plants and perennial gardens in combination with spring bulbs shows American gardeners how to benefit from our land. The inner-city garden features a greenhouse, olivine stone that binds carbon dioxide and filters the air and a rainwater collection system. Bart expresses, “Even in a jungle, one must survive.”In addition, global award-winning designer Michael Petrie presents “The Style,” inspired from the cover of the art journal De Stijl, interpreting the work of Piet Mondrian, Vilmos Huszar, Bart van der Leck and architect Gerrit Rietveld, renowned for their abstract use of bold primary color squares and rectangles and horizontal and vertical black and white lines. This exhibit is meant to be viewed from all angles, showcasing the artworks within the enclosed evergreen walls.Art, architecture, landscape design and lifestyle, from the history of the development of the tulip to the sustainable vision of the future through plants and human endeavor, don’t miss the spectacular color, creativity and a breath of spring at this year’s show, which runs through Sunday.Gloria Day is president of Pretty Dirty Ladies Inc. Garden Design & Maintenance; a member of Gardenwriters and the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association; and serves on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence Horticultural Advisory Committee. She lives in Berks County and can be reached at Gloria@prettydirtyladies.com. AUTOAYUDA CRECIMIENTO PERSONAL