HABITAT: Nature’s Masterpiece
Philadelphia’s time-honored celebration of gardens, plants and flowers takes place in March each year. Typically, it is held indoors, at a convention center-style venue.
The Philadelphia Horticultural Society changed things up for 2021 to adapt during the global COVID pandemic. The entire nine-day flower festival took place in early June — outdoors!
As the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is a stunning and educational look at the world of floral design and gardening. Annually, the event features breathtaking displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers.
In 2021, with the show’s new outdoor setting, flower and garden lovers enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the beautiful, unique landscape of FDR Park in Philadelphia.
Congratulations to four of our Slow Flowers Members for participating as designers at the 2021 show. They have generously shared photos and details of their displays:
Design and concept: Jennifer Reed Oechsle, Jennifer Designs
Partners: Philadelphia Zoo @philadelphiazoo; Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
@resendizbrothers and Hattie Weselyk Studio @hattieweselykstudio
Photography: Tara Federico @tarafedericophotography
Description: Get lost in the outback and the vast landscape of Australia by experiencing the uplifting nature of a habitat reborn. Explore the diversity of the flora of the continent and surround yourself with the joy a new Joey would experience as his environmental habitat comes back to life following devastation from recent wildflowers. You’ll revel in the beauty and wonder of the resilient Australian landscape.
All of the native Australian florals were grown in the U.S. by Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers. The display invited show-goers to “take a ride in the Roo” and hear what a real Kangaroo sounds like, along with fun educational resources from the Philadelphia Zoo.
The gorgeous metal sculptures of endangered Australian orchids were created by Hattie Weselyk Studio @hattieweselykstudio
THE HONEY HIVE
Design and concept: Renee Tucci, AIFD, Renee Tucci Floral Educator
Description: Place yourself in the wings of helpful honeybees and behold a tapestry of pattern, harnessed by the perfect hexagon.Flowers appear in shades of lemon, amber and gold to give way to the future; with honey produced by the perfect pollinators forming the foundation of our food web.
“When the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society invited us to exhibit, they let us know that we would be placed by the entrance and asked us to create THE photo moment of the show . . . no pressure,” Renee explains. “Considering their importance to the world, I knew that I wanted to focus on the habitat of the honeybee, so all we had to do the create an intriguing exhibit that also engaged the public. After some brainstorming, The Honey Hive was born!”
Renee’s two-sided exhibit featured an over-sized set of transparent bee wings on the front, making for the perfect photo op. The back of the exhibit housed a tapestry of dried flowers in miniature hexagons, designed in delicious patterns, captivating to view. Intriguing facts about bees and sleek honey jars filled with different types and colors of honey completed the display, while planters filled with bee-friendly blooms, including a real beehive, displayed plants.
WHAT DWELLS IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
Design and concept: Kathleen Claar, From Blossoms
Photography: Tell the Bees Photography
Description: This otherworldly creature, containing a world within itself, evokes the familiarity of interdependent lives and the strange possibility of the unknown made real with botanical, sculptural and metal components. The looming presence of a living beast questions perceptions of our immediate environment while the miniature world draws the viewer in, forcing acceptance of the beast as a host to life.
More from Kat: “For my installation this year, I used dried and preserved florals and some perennial grass and ferns. I always love playing with color and tried to create a dream-like palette. I incorporated mirrors and iridescent plexiglass to play with space and dimension, and even found a brand of tear-proof, waterproof paper so I could stiill include some of paper shapes.
She continues: “I wanted the body of the installation to be made of metal and commissioned my friend Kate Kaman to fabricate it. I also commissioned my puppet-making friend Aunty Beast to make three unique creatures to live inside the belly of the beast. Aunty Beast also drew a comic to create more of a backstory and context for the beast. In the comic (above), part of the story of the beast is that humans are drawn to the inner-belly world, and as they get closer, the beast ultimately consumes the humans. This is the important role the magical belly world plays for the beast, and in return, the beast provides a habitat for the creatures it carries.”
ROOTED + GATHERED
Design and concept: Maura Feeney, Camellia Faire Floral Studio
Description: To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separated from. This scene features a feast table set by woodland natives to welcome a weary traveler who is caught somewhere between the real world and the wilds. As humans, being rooted in nature is perhaps the essential and least recognized need of the soul. We may grow in different directions, but our roots of existence remain as one. “Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light” Theodore Roethke, poet