What You Don’t Know About the Show

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It’s opening day of the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show! Starting at 8 am today an eager group of early-birds have flocked to the Show floor to be the first among their friends to see “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha”!

As you tour the Show, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of all of the incredible displays, but have you ever wondered about an exhibit’s back story–the inspiration, construction details, and history? A chat with a few of the exhibitors yielded some fun factoids.

Robertson’s Flowers of Chestnut Hill has created a beach wedding tableau, complete with floral altar and graceful white arches. According to designer Eric Schellack, those arches may dissuade a superstitious visitor; they’re made from aluminum ladders!

He said that a small army of 20 people worked on the display, assembling more than 1,500 vases and arranging 2,000 stems shipped directly from Hawaii. Let’s hope that the power of the leis on the altar, a traditional symbol of good luck, overcomes the power of the ladders!

Flowers by David has been a favorite at the Show for 16 years. This year’s display was inspired by Hawaiian tribal tattoos, graphically expressed on large panels throughout the exhibit. Robin Heller, half of the husband-and-wife design team, commented that “When you say Hawaii, everyone gets such an instant, firm image, so it’s difficult to set yourself apart. We wanted to stand out, and the tattoos are what we thought of.” Complementing the graphics is a beautiful 15-foot fountain, the base of which hides seven powerful, yet silent, pumps. “We were encouraged to go higher,” says Robin. “Maybe next year.”

The American Institute of Floral Designer’s (AIFD) exhibit celebrates the Merrie Monarch Festival that honors the legacy left by King David Kalākaua. This mighty monarch inspired the perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, native language, and the arts, including the hula dance.

Individual displays depict every type of hula from dancing for rain, to stop the rain, for fire, wind, water, and healing. AIFD designers from around the country have assembled to create the vignettes. “It’s a very literal interpretation,” says Ron Mulray, head designer, who added that more than 2,000 stems of anthuriums will be sculpted into the backdrop. If Ron is at the exhibit when you stop by, be sure to ask him about the history of the hula dance—he’s an expert!

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