This year the Philadelphia Flower Show was held outdoors. With the Covid pandemic, PHS cancelled their March indoor venue and moved the show to June in the beautiful Olmsted FDR Park in Philadelphia. The show theme was “Habitat” and a class called the “Enchanted Forest” captured the attention of our family. 

The “Enchanted Forest” is home to mythological creatures and ours was the native American Thunderbird, purveyor of thunder and rain which make the crops grow and the protector from evil spirits. Madeline wrote a lovely intent.

enchanted forest

Our three-generation team included Betsy, Glenn, Madeline, and Alex as the Baltimore coalition and the two grandparents from Philadelphia.

Betsy submitted a picture of a miniature nest along with our plan to the PHS advisors and we were happy to be accepted into the class. The final nest spanned  over 5’ across with lightning, rain, and golden painted eggs.

Our nest began with a series of grape vine wreaths in increasing sizes enhanced with garlands of vines and then willow branches. It was lifted onto a platform made from wood and broomstick poles.

(Thank you, Glenn for your carpentry expertise.) The nest would be outdoors for the duration of the show so it needed to be sturdy and totally waterproof.

Wood blocks lifted the nest so that its treasures could be viewed from the front. Alex smartly knows when to sit back and take a supervisory role.

Large plastic eggs from Michael’s were washed with flat gold paint.  This one sat outside to be tested for waterproofing and a squirrel broke into it looking for some goodies, sadly there were none. Glass droplets in three colors were strung to represent rain.

The nest is now in its outdoor test area and Betsy looks for just the right place to place our lightning branches which will be painted gold. 

Finally, we go to “The Show.” Eric and Glenn wait in a long line of trucks to get the nest to its proper place in the “Enchanted Forest.” Then it is unloaded and set up on its pole structure.

Madeline and Betsy survey the nest and plan where to put its treasures. Inside are some wonderful hens and chicks succulents, arborvitae branches, colorful eggs, and more.

Golden branches are the lightning and sod and mulch finish the ground below with willow baskets holding just a few lovely ferns. The ombre of droplets are pinned to the sod so that they don’t tangle in the breeze. After cutting the sod with my ribbon scissors and shoveling the mulch I was the dirtiest I have been for quite some time!

The final project!! I am so proud of our family effort and of PHS for pulling off this incredible feat of an outdoor flower show.  May the Thunderbird, purveyor and protector, bring good harvests and protect us from evil spirits.

And just to make sure I had enough to do this year at the flower show I was invited to be part of the AIFD American Institute of Floral Designers “Habitat Reclaimed” major exhibit. 

AIFD is my “flower family” and I worked with a large group of very talented designers under the guidance of chairs Valerie McLaughlin and Ron Mulray.  My task was to decorate a fireplace mantle that had been taken over by nature.

AIFD’s “Habitat Reclaimed” for the 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show was a house taken over by vines and plants.

My part of the house was the dining room mantle which was made of tree trunks, vines, foliage, succulents, and orchids. 

One side of my mantle was supported by large links of tree trunks threaded over a heavy iron pole.  Between the tree segments blocks of Aqua Wool, a new sustainable floral foam, held ferns, leaves, and pods.

The top of the mantle used driftwood and a circular vine wreath filled with greens, succulents and purple orchids for a pop of color. It is always a great honor to be part of this exhibit and the entire house was splendidly created. To my surprise, the exhibits all seemed to survive the rain, heat, and weather challenges. 

I hope many of you came to the show and enjoyed all the magnificent gardens, plants, and creativity. I am grateful for my family, flower friends, and to PHS for giving us this fabulous opportunity.