Sketches from the Philadelphia Flower Show

Signe Wilkinson's impressions of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show

This year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs through Sunday, is boringly mistitled “Wonders of Water.” The VaVaVaVoom floral abundance should be called “The Colors of Water.” The show is a knockout not only for its gorgeous entrance arrangements of hot (and I do mean sexy) tropical flowers and foliage. Also welcome is its more-open, less-cluttered layout that allows for better navigation and admiration of the color-drenched exhibits.

The show’s many designers manage to convey lots of ingenious water-related ideas by weaving them through displays that range from jungle to desert but each is designed to please the eye and the horticulturist’s lust for exotic stems. Even the miniature classes were alluring with vibrant background colors in their carefully arranged niches. I still wonder what kind of obsessives would spend their time on earth sticking minuscule leaves into miniature watering cans and invisibly suspending them in tiny, little spaces but the results are so enchanting, I just passed each and gave thanks that they had.

Camera icon Signe Wilkinson
Signe Wilkinson’s impressions of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Don’t worry. There’s plenty of stuff to buy. The huge marketplace is a riot of essential gardening items like the indispensable $2,995 handmade bronze eagle, the $80 genuine alpaca hat and, for the very novice gardener who hasn’t yet mastered watering, the $18 wooden, pastel-painted shasta daisies stuck on green dowel stems.

As I do whenever I leave the Flower Show, I stop by to visit the topiary and say hello to the five-tiered Myrtus communis, which has been coming to the show for some 30 years — way longer than I have. Every year its owner, the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, displayed it along with her other carefully clipped plants and scooped up many (OK, almost all) of the blue ribbons. My friend Myrtus is now retired from competition and being cared for at Longwood Gardens, like the living sculpture it is.

Camera icon Signe Wilkinson
Signe Wilkinson’s impressions of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Don’t let the weather slow you down. The colors of water and tulips and daffodils and anthuriums await.