You will recall that I visited the Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this month.
|Fishing for Heritage|
She also teaches courses on the anthropology of place, and the culture of gardeners. And now, a new book is underway about the social connections we make in gardening.
For her, the flower show was book research -- a look into two cultures, Britain and America, sharing a gardening heritage. She has lived and done research in the U.K. and studied many gardens (and the people who make them) in England and America.
She is also a gardener herself, visiting the show for a little inspiration and fun.
Here is her post on why the flower show disappointed:
This year, the show’s theme was “the British Invasion.” As a gardener, perhaps I may be forgiven the assumption that this would have something to do with the influence of British design on our gardens here in the United States.
But no. Instead, with a few notable exceptions, the show was all about American visions of British popular culture. So horticulture displays relied upon cheap, superficial imagery – Union Jacks, Big Ben, a yellow submarine, umbrellas, Shakespeare, photos of various Royals, a statue of a cricketer – to say, “here is the United Kingdom.” There was a lot of red, white and blue. Why not just go to Disneyland and have done with it?
To be fair, one nursery attempted to recapitulate Hidcote, another presented the Lost Gardens of Heligan (Cornwall), one wall did show the names of famous British gardens (Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, Hampton Court), and there was a very witty presentation of Alice in Wonderland. The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Pennsylvania offered a serious explanation of the early seed trade between Britain and America in the eighteenth century.
But by and large, I thought the show was a flop. Overall (and again, with some exceptions), the plant palette was wan, predictable and a bit boring. Personally, I like hellebores, but staged in stiff little groups under glaring fluorescent lights, they are not at their best. And someone should ban the use of hyacinths in closed spaces.
|There were so many stiff little clumps of hellebores.|
More to the point, the British “invasion,” from a gardener’s point of view, should include some of the plants the Brits rely upon in their herbaceous borders, such as campanulas and alchemilla.
I get that the show is intended to be a
spectacle, an entertainment. But does it have to be so shallow and
uninformative? Why not educate as well? The last time I went, I got ideas about
design. This time, I got bored and annoyed. I’ll save the money next year and
go to a good botanical garden.
|There were so few iconic British flowers like campanulas|
Thank you, Laurrie, for the chance to rant.