Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

That big black smokestack

In 1887, someone sent a letter in to the newspaper Le Temps calling plans for the Eiffel Tower, meant to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution, "a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack," or words - in French - to that effect. Hard to believe Gustave Eiffel's now-iconic structure was so controversial. Do not expect to encounter a controversial tower at this year's flower show. It is not an exact replica. Obviously. The real deal is 1,063 feet; this one will be 33 feet. At the moment, the flower show tower is in 13 "tractor trailer-size" pieces in a shop in Sharon Hill. They're made of steel and plywood and will be covered in hundreds of "peanut lights," tiny, 6-watt light bulbs that will be sychronized to Parisian techno-music. There will be no flowers on the tower, however, a departure from traditional flower show central-feature style. And the tower will not hit you in the face as you walk in. It'll be placed 90 feet back from the entrance, sitting in the middle of a so-called "French curve garden" with planters and ponds, a flower cart on one side (fashioned from two old Schwinn bikes) and a flower shop (modelled on one of those fabulous Parisian Metro stops) on the other. There'll be mimes and jugglers. I'm there.

That big black smokestack

In 1887, someone sent a letter in to the newspaper Le Temps calling plans for the Eiffel Tower, meant to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution, "a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack," or words - in French - to that effect. Hard to believe Gustave Eiffel's now-iconic structure was so controversial. Do not expect to encounter a controversial tower at this year's flower show. It is not an exact replica. Obviously. The real deal is 1,063 feet; this one will be 33 feet. At the moment, the flower show tower is in 13 "tractor trailer-size" pieces in a shop in Sharon Hill. They're made of steel and plywood and will be covered in hundreds of "peanut lights," tiny, 6-watt light bulbs that will be sychronized to Parisian techno-music. There will be no flowers on the tower, however, a departure from traditional flower show central-feature style. And the tower will not hit you in the face as you walk in. It'll be placed 90 feet back from the entrance, sitting in the middle of a so-called "French curve garden" with planters and ponds, a flower cart on one side (fashioned from two old Schwinn bikes) and a flower shop (modelled on one of those fabulous Parisian Metro stops) on the other. There'll be mimes and jugglers. I'm there.  

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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