Kathryn speaking at the Idaho Horticultural Society Symposium in Boise.

Kathryn speaking at the Idaho Horticultural Society Symposium in Boise.

Our whirlwind of activities landed us at the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Idaho Horticultural Society Symposium week before last. We presented slide shows and seminars at both events.

 When people describe the Philadelphia Flower Show as the biggest flower show in the country, they’re not kidding. It is a mob scene, crammed with exhibits, vendors, and visitors. Long lines form to enter each seminar and exhibition space. And the waits are all worth it. This year’s theme “Passport to the World” inspired exhibits that represented New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Holland, and India.

baloon I thought all the exhibits were extraordinary. A gigantic hot-air balloon made of flowers floated above a stage of musicians and scarcely clad Bollywood dancers. It reminded me of car shows I’ve attended in the past.






Tree ferns and palms rose above a lush understory of white lilies in New Zealand. A tropical display featured huge bromeliads. The South Africa exhibit was a favorite. Small grass huts fitted with tools, everyday items made entirely from plant material, and elaborate masks adorned the walkway through the middle of the exhibit. Protea flowers and grasses predominated. I found it creative and evocative.



The shipping containers painted with lively graffiti decorated with cut flowers and grasses were apparently provocative. The Philadelphia Enquirer condemned the display as glorifying graffiti. I did not find it so. I found it rather, to be about “plants in cracks”. Life blooms wherever it can. A subtle statement of hope. One of these shipping containers featured a study of extreme contrasts. The totally functional and ordinary container held an elegant and sophisticated table setting of fine china and crystal decorated with purple Vanda orchid flowers.

 table setting vandas


Although the show is several weeks in the past, the exhibitor’s creative endeavors stay with me. I’m grateful for my first opportunity to go to “the biggest show on earth.”

 The same week we went to Philadelphia, we also blew into Boise, Idaho, for two gracious days of sun and spring weather.

 The Idaho Horticultural Society does an amazing job with their spring symposium. Plant aficionados from all over Idaho gather to take classes to improve their growing techniques. They also gather to share their passion. Teaming with the Idaho Botanical Garden the Horticultural
Society is involved with many incredible projects, and they do a great job.


David speaking at the Idaho Horticultural Society Symposium in Boise.

David speaking at the Idaho Horticultural Society Symposium in Boise.


The Society runs a series of contests as part of the symposium. Individuals, neighborhoods, and community gardens compete in categories such as “Best Community Project”, “Most Improved Front Yard”, “Best Dryland”, “Most Sustainable”, and others. The contest is only open to non-professionals and the contestants enter photographs.

 I looked over a display of the winner, and thought about what a great way to get more people involved in gardening, in beautification, in civic participation. I saw lots of thoughtful effort on display.

 We returned home after these events, briefly, to finish packing and then we took off on our driving tour of the West. We’re driving south through Oregon now, visiting bookstores and posting blogs along the way.

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