The set man

This will be the sixth flower show for which Gary Radin has done the set design for the central feature. Last year it was the Eiffel Tower. This year, with a Hawaiian theme, visitors will walk through a giant orchid wave with video images projected onto it - sea turtles, surfers, fish. Thousands of white orchids and anthuriums will cover the trussed "spines" of the wave and there'll be sound effects of rippling water and crashing waves with music. Now that sounds like an antidote to winter! Even the winter we've had.

The wave will be 40 feet wide and 50 feet deep, the width of all six of those doors that you walk through at the convention center to get into the show. And instead of heading straight in, as we did last year with the tower and have pretty much done every year, we'll be guided to the right. This should alleviate some of the scrum that typically forms by the entrance but it's also intended to change things up for the sake of change - to make "the visitor experience," as they say, more interesting. The layout of the show hasn't changed since it moved from the old civic center in West Philly to the convention center at 12th and Market in 1996.


There's much more to the central feature, and the showcase gardens, but it's the wave that will get most of the attention for both its size and novelty. You can see the rendering behind Gary, who has a design studio in Fishtown. His other projects include design and art direction for TV and live events, commercials.

There will be real water at the show - a 25-foot waterfall and another cascading falls. "Managing water inside is always a hoot," Gary says, remembering when a visitor to the "Bella Italia" show  accidentally bumped a stone along the long reflecting pool, which tore the plastic liner, which caused a leak.

No getting that close to the falls this year. Otherwise, they'd need a lifeguard.