Archive for March, 2012

Celebrate Spring with a Recipe from the Flower Show

March 30, 2012

Chef Sarah Fioroni, from Fattoria Poggio Alloro (Laurel Hill Farm) in Italy, showed us how to make this saffron risotto during her Flower Show culinary demonstration, sponsored by Organic Gardening. Subtly flavored and full of fresh vegetables, this dish is straight from her family’s organic farm/resort in the Tuscan hills.

Saffron Risotto with Spring Vegetables

Makes 8 servings

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup diced red onion
2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups sliced fresh asparagus spears, woody ends discarded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups water
4 cups vegetable broth
½ teaspoon saffron
4 cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, 14-inch sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is wilted and transparent, about five minutes. Add the zucchini and asparagus, stirring to blend well. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add ½ cup of water as vegetables are cooking. Combine another one cup of the water with the vegetable broth and saffron in a heavy-bottomed, three-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat until hot,  about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Stir the rice into the vegetable mixture. Increase heat to medium-high and sauté for one minute, then add 1⁄3 of the vegetable broth mixture. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice absorbs the broth. Add one cup of the water, and stir until it is absorbed. Continue to add broth and water, alternately, cooking and stirring, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid between each addition. When the rice becomes creamy, add the broth and water more sparingly, or the rice will become mushy. Cook until rice is creamy but still al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes total. Stir in the butter and scatter a little Parmesan cheese over the top, if desired. (Don’t add too much of the cheese, or it will overpower the delicious taste of the saffron.)

Highlights of the Marketplace: Copper Curls Garden Sculpture

March 29, 2012

Alice Calhoun—the artist behind the fanciful sculptures of joyful faeries, ballerinas, and mermaids you may have seen at the Flower Show Marketplace—has created a fun tribute to the 2012 Show, “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha.”

Her special Pele the Fire Goddess statue is part of a set inspired by the elements. Alice also creates a new set of “Flower Faeries” that are inspired by a signature flower at that year’s Show. This year is the orchid—how lovely!

We love how her faeries capture the dynamic energy of dancing within the static medium of sculpture. Check out all of her curly-haired garden sculptures at the Copper Curls website.

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What to do with Willows

March 28, 2012

Picture of pussy willow and curly willow cuttings

Are you among the many, many people who purchased pussy willow or curly willow at the Flower Show Marketplace? This perennial favorite is a versatile design element, but by now you may be wondering what to do with them.

Whatever you do, don’t throw them out! If you’ve been keeping the willow in  water, continue to do so—changing the water regularly. If you didn’t keep them in water but still have the cuttings, cut off an inch or so from the bottom and put them in water now. You have a very good chance that they’ll take up water, put out roots, and grow for you.

The curly willow makes a handsome small tree, and can be grown in a container and pruned back repeatedly to make a bush shape if you prefer. The pussy willow will reward you with little furry ovals every spring.

It’s nice to plant some Flower Show plants and enjoy Flower Show goodness all year long!

Macy’s Flower Show Features Some of Our Favorite Designers

March 27, 2012

We’ve barely caught our collective breath after a trip to Hawaii during this year’s Flower Show, and now Macy’s invites us to another exotic locale during their show, “Brasil: Gardens in Paradise,” March 25 through April 7 during store hours at the City Center location.

Celebrated at Macy’s in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, the show features a variety of activities for the entire family, including organ concerts; floral, tabletop, and cooking demonstrations; guided tours; and more. Also featured is the “Bouquet of the Day,” where local designers create floral masterpieces within the store.

You’ll recognize these participating artists from the Philadelphia Flower Show: Jamie Rothstein, Jamie Rothstein Distinctive Floral Designs (March 25-26); Michael Bruce, Michael Bruce Florist (March 27-28); Donna O’Brien, Beautiful Blooms (March 29-31); Barb King, Valley Forge Flowers (April 1-2); Eric Schellack, Robertson’s Flowers (April 3-4); and Bill Schaffer, Schaffer Designs (April 5-7).

Remember, no passport is required to experience the lush, vibrant South American plants and flowers as interpreted by some of Philadelphia’s most-recognized floral designers. Enjoy!

The Art of Flowers: PHS Teams Up with Museum

March 26, 2012

In a joint promotion with the 2012 Flower Show, the Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrated its current exhibit,”Van Gogh Up Close,” with “Eight Days of Van Gogh’s Flowers.”

From zinnias to roses to almond blossoms, the botanical paintings by post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh were featured on the Art Museum’s Facebook page, with a description of each plant and a brief history of each painting provided by Janet Evans, PHS librarian.

Looking at van Gogh’s Butterflies and Poppies (pictured above), Janet revealed that poppies were exhibited at a PHS meeting as early as 1834. In July 1889, almost one year before this work is thought to have been painted, van Gogh wrote to his sister Wilhelmina, “If you want to do as artists do, gaze upon the white and red poppies with the bluish leaves, with those buds raising themselves up on stems with gracious curves. The hours of trouble and battle will assuredly come and find us without our going to look for them.” Janet also suggested that if we want to grow our own poppies, they should be planted in well-drained soil that receives full sun.

Art and flowers: A truly inspirational combination! The “Van Gogh Up Close” exhibit is available for your enjoyment until May 6. Before you go, click here to read all “Eight Days of van Gogh’s Flowers.”

Through Laura’s Lens: Not the Light at the End of the Tunnel

March 23, 2012

Serendipity sometimes leads to beautiful photos at the Flower Show. The stars certainly aligned when I stood at one side of the Jacques Amand exhibit, which had a winding path surrounded by spring bulbs. At the opposite end was the Kepich & Associates exhibit, a woodland setting filled with azaleas and rhododendrons.

From this perspective, it’s difficult to tell where the one exhibit ends and the next one begins. And with creative cropping, you almost forget this photo was taken indoors!

Take a walk through the spring-flowering bulbs to reach the azaleas and rhododendrons

Other times, the juxtapositions are more surreal. Take this picture of Abraham Lincoln High School’s imaginative re-creation of a subway station. Uh-oh—what’s that at the end of the tunnel? Oh, dear, it appears to be a giant foot right out of Monty Python. Stay off the tracks!

Yikes! Is the Giant Foot o' Doom going to squash the subway like a bug???

Liquid Luau Voters Pick a Favorite!

March 22, 2012

With almost 300 discerning participants sipping tropical libations around town during the Flower Show, a tally of the responses found that the winner—by a healthy margin—was the Toloache (Hawaiian for “enchanting wild flower”) from Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti!

The Nani (meaning “beautiful”) from Bridget Foy’s came in second.

In partnership with Center City District, the Liquid Luau gave everyone a chance to experience a taste of Hawaii at some of the area’s best bars and restaurants. A heartfelt “mahalo” to all of the venues and voters who participated, and to Center City District for making this special event possible.

Click here to see the list of recipes.

Make a Lei at Home!

March 21, 2012

The March/April issue of Green Scene magazine contains a do-it-yourself lei making tutorial that will surely make you the hit of the summer cookout or day down the shore.

During the Flower Show, we were thrilled when Green Scene readers James Gerald and Pat O’Rouke came to “Islands of Aloha” adorned in their home-made leis. They told us that they made these beautiful leis based on the instructions in the magazine—and they did a great job!

Thanks for reading, James and Pat!

Want Green Scene delivered to your door or available on your iPad? It is a perk of being a PHS member. (PHS being the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the organization that produces the Flower Show.) Click here to find out how to become a member, and learn about all the benefits of membership!

A Flower Show Volunteer Tells All!

March 20, 2012

If you struck up a passionate gardening conversation with a friendly, smart-as-a-whip woman at the Flower Show’s PHS Exhibit, it may have been Mia Mengucci.

We asked Mia about her Flower Show volunteerism and why she comes back year after year. In return she gave us not one, but 10 reasons (in no particular order, although she saved the best for last). Take it away, Mia!

I volunteer at the Flower Show because I…

  1. Get behind-the-scenes access to the world-famous Show
  2. Reunite with the “family” of volunteers
  3. Receive smiles and hugs-a-plenty
  4. Catch spring fever
  5. Find ideas on how to get my garden to look as good as the exhibits—but I still have a long way to go!
  6. Discover that sleep deprivation builds character
  7. People-watch for hours on end
  8. Can eat a pretzel with mustard and call it a complete meal—no time for relaxed dining!
  9. Share my first-hand experience and knowledge of all the wonderful things that PHS does for the area
  10. Meet wonderful people from around the world

How to Care for Your New Orchid

March 19, 2012

The magic and beauty of the orchids adorning Pele’s Garden and other 2012  exhibits seemed to inspire a lot of visitors. So much so, that we spotted many of you leaving the Show toting a new gorgeous orchid for your home or workplace.

If you are a first-time orchid caretaker, you may have some questions about caring for your new plant. Here are some orchid care tips for beginners to get you started!

How often should I water my orchid?:
Every 5-12 days, depending on the type of orchid you have and the time of year. During the warm summer months, more watering is required than in the cool winter months. For the most part, over-watering is more common that under-watering, but be sure to research the needs of your particular orchid, because every type is slightly different.

How often should I be fertilize my orchids?:
Your best bet is to purchase a fertilizer that is made specifically for orchids and follow the instructions on the package. Excessive fertilizing may burn the roots and leaves.

How do I know if I need to re-pot?:
A newly potted orchid should be fine in it’s current pot for about two years. You’ll know it is time for re-potting when there are many long visible roots over the edge of the pot.

What are the most common orchid pests?
Eek! Snails, slugs, aphids and thrips are all known pests that target orchids. Additionally, if you notice a brown or black crust on leaves or stems it is probably scale insects. If you notice a white, cottony mass, that is likely mealybugs. The best line of defense is to visit your local garden store for products designed to control each of these common pests.

Learn More:

If you’d like to learn more to ensure that you bloom as an orchid tender, check out the marvelous “How to Care for your Orchid” subject guide online provided by the PHS McLean Library!

Also, consider joining the American Orchid Society, a great way to network with other orchid enthusiasts and learn more about these terrific plants!


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