Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Who knew about woo-hoo?

Seriously, who knew the flower show crowd was a woo-hoo kind of group? The folks at the new Designer's Studio at the flower show are definitely in that zone. They hoop and holler and woo-hoo during the competitions that are being described as "Top Chef with Flowers." Three floral designers (sometimes amateur, sometimes pro) go head to head (or hand to hand, in this case) creating an arrangement with the same bunch of tropical flowers, stems and other materials.

Who knew about woo-hoo?

Seriously, who knew the flower show crowd was a woo-hoo kind of group? The folks at the new Designer's Studio at the flower show are definitely in that zone. They hoop and holler and woo-hoo during the competitions that are being described as "Top Chef with Flowers." Three floral designers (sometimes amateur, sometimes pro) go head to head (or hand to hand, in this case) creating an arrangement with the same bunch of tropical flowers, stems and other materials.

I sat in on one competition, involving three designers - two from Texas, one from Massachusetts - and a box full of bamboo, heliconia, ginger, anthurium and orange roses. Interestingly, the competitors from out of town all came on their own dime. Now that's devotion. Or competitive spirit to the max.

Julie Speer from Arkansas was judge and commentator, but the audience could vote for their favorite, too, using the new flower show app. I've got the app, which was easy to download, but I couldn't figure out - even with help from a PHS volunteer - how to use it to vote.

The crowd also voted a second, old-fashioned way, by clapping, which was too close to call. (That's where a lot of the woo-hooing came in.) Finally, the app vote was in, and a winner declared - Carol Bailey, from river Oaks Garden Club in Texas, who wowed Judge Julie with her clever use of "negative space," spaces without flowers, her use of color (pink-green-orange), and lines (the eye moved comfortably around the design).

Joy Arena of Pennington, N.J., was in the audience and said she loves to arrange flowers but doesn't believe she would buy tropicals ("too expensive" and doubted she had the talent to imitate what she saw in the competition. (Her friend disagreed.) But Joy said she did pick up one universal lesson: "Get out of the mound."

By that she means "don't keep arranging your flowers in a mound. Do different things." Even if you don't design with tropicals, that's a good thought. Say woo-hoo!

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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