Exhibitor Spotlight: Bonsai Buddies

March 10, 2012 by

The folks at Rosade Bonsai Studio and the Pennsylvania Bonsai Studio are here at the Flower Show, displaying their strikingly beautiful bonsai trees, some of which have been trained for decades.

Chase from the Rosade studio told us that lots of people come to them with bonsai-related questions. And, on occasion, a bonsai enthusiast will seek counsel on how to care for a struggling specimen.

“There is no one way to properly care for bonsai,” Chase says. “You need to know how to care for your particular tree. Identify your tree and understand its needs.”

Additionally, although many of the mini-trees displayed at the Show are exotic varieties from the East, there are certain bonsai trees that are suited for the Mid-Atlantic climate. So look out for Chase and the other friendly bonsai folks when you visit the Flower Show, now in its final days.

Through Laura’s Lens: Stalking the Pandanus

March 10, 2012 by
Picture of Pandanus tectorius roots

Seen during setup week, this plant's roots look like something out of The Lorax.

When I saw these incredible prop roots during set-up week, I stopped dead in my tracks. What sort of plant could this be? I couldn’t find anyone who knew, so one of my fellow guides and I stopped Drew Becher, president of the PHS, to ask him.

Drew knew exactly the plant we meant and was very pleased about having it in the Show. In fact, he told us gleefully that he and designer Sam Lemheney had been on a shopping expedition at a Florida nursery and spotted it over in a corner. Ignoring the big royal palms the nurseryman wanted to sell them, they said, “we want that one.” It took Drew a couple minutes to pull the name off the tip of his tongue—don’t you hate it when that happens?—but he took the time to find it and get back to us.

Ppicture of Pandanus tectorius

Pandanus during a pre-show lighting test.

Pandanus tectorius, also known as hala or thatch screwpine, is one of the few surviving native Hawaiian plants; evidence of the tree predates the arrival of the first Polynesian colonists. Its leaves were used to make sails for sea canoes and fiber for weaving (the craft of lauhala refers to weaving baskets, mats, and other objects from the leaves of the hala).

Pandanus is a “floater”—its seeds are buoyant and can tolerate salt water. No wonder it can be found on islands and atolls all over the South Pacific. Here at the Flower Show, you can find the Pandanus in Pele’s garden, near the Hale (thatched hut). There’s another, smaller specimen on the rear side of the Men’s Garden Club exhibit, near the Marketplace—illustrating that you should always look for hidden gems on all sides of the displays.

The Pele’s Garden Pandanus sheds its usual grey-green color when it becomes a canvas for the fabulous light show. You can find many items woven from the Pandanus in the Hawaii Village in the Grand Hall. Check the schedule on your Flower Show app for weaving demonstrations in the Village as well.

QVC “Spring in Bloom” Begins Tomorrow

March 9, 2012 by

A solar-powered umbrella may not do much good indoors at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, but think of how nice it would be for your deck or patio.

At the Kaua’i Kafe, located in the center of the Show floor, you can see these colorful canopies on display.

The umbrellas come in seven colors and each features 30 LED solar lights and a solar panel with rechargeable batteries. Now when you host barbeques, cook-outs, and other outdoor affairs, you’ll have an easy, reliable way to light up your night. What a bright idea!

You can purchase these umbrellas at a special price now through March 10 through QVC. (The umbrellas are item #M28054.) This deal is part of the QVC’s “Spring in Bloom” special, which airs for 24 hours tomorrow and will include live segments from the Flower Show.

Shop QVC for this product and everything else under the sun.

A Tale of Two Michaels: The Landscaper and the Florist

March 9, 2012 by

The list of exhibitors at the Flower Show reads like a “Who’s Who” of the horticulture industry, and includes some of the area’s finest landscape architects and installers, as well as respected floral designers. Every visitor has a favorite, and here are two that exemplify the differences.

The exhibit created by award-winning Michael Bruce Florist is a whimsical compilation of three sand-filled islands, connected by pass-through arches of gently manipulated bamboo. Individual cut blooms have been draped like jeweled necklaces from carefully woven and suspended mats, interspersed with sparkling capiz shell medallions. Brightly colored orchids are the stars of this show, placed in tear drop-shaped vials that hang at eye level. Truly a display that’s not to be missed.

In the Michael Petrie’s Handmade Gardens display, gravity-defying stacks of lava rock punctuate this fantasy landscape inspired by the wind-carved stone formations and lunar-like landscape of the Garden of the Gods (Keahiakawelo). Legend has it that ancient Hawaiian gods created the high-desert area on the island of Lanai by dropping boulders from the sky. Winner of the “Showcase Garden Award,” the “”Mayor’s Trophy,” and “Best Achievement Blending Horticulture, Landscape, and Artistic Elements,” this display continues to wow visitors with its size, scale, and story.

Whether you want to appreciate a single, cut blossom or be enlightened by landscape possibilities, the Flower Show has inspirational moments for everyone!

Charitybuzz Highlight: Feeling a Little Starstruck?

March 9, 2012 by

Here’s a chance to rub elbows with some famous and influential people, all while supporting PHS and its programs (like Plant One Million and City Harvest).

The PHS auction at charitybuzz.com features some incredible prizes including tickets to watch a live taping of Hardball with Chris Matthews and a tour of the set, followed by a photo-op with the host and Philadelphia native, Chris Matthews!

On a lighter note, bid for two VIP tickets to be in the studio audience for LIVE! With Kelly in New York (who doesn’t want to start their day with Kelly Ripa?), or be among Philadelphia’s brightest stars with tickets to the Preview Party for the 2013 Philadelphia International Flower Show.

Want to catch up on all things Philly-related? Bid on the opportunity for you and a guest to have lunch with one of most-recognized voices in the Delaware Valley—KYW Newsradio anchor, Harry Donahue. Harry is also the voice of Temple University football and basketball, hosts weekly radio and television shows, and has also done play-by-play for Philadelphia Eagles preseason games.

Visit charitybuzz.com between now and March 13 to bid. Good luck!

Get to Know the Malo

March 9, 2012 by

Wondering what this unfamiliar garment might be? It is a malo, the traditional Hawaiian loin cloth.

While both men and women will wear hula skirts, the malo is meant strictly for men and has been around for centuries.

This year’s Flower Show features two hula troupes dressed in traditional garb and performing mesmerizing hula dances in front of the thatched roof in Pele’s Garden.

One troupe comes courtesy of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu. The other, Halau O Keikialii, joins us from San Francisco.

Don’t miss the striking stage shows to experience the rhythm, dance, and traditional dress of Hawaii.

Who’s Cooking at the Flower Show March 9-11?

March 8, 2012 by

Things have been heating up at the free culinary demonstrations that are not only educational, but also entertaining! Show favorite, the great Chef Joseph Shilling and students from JNA Institute of Culinary Arts host and assist, respectively.

Click here to see the schedule and presentation titles. The impressive bios of our speakers are below.

Eugenia Bone is a journalist and food writer, as well as co-president of the New York Mycological Society. She has written four books, including the critically acclaimed, Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird and Wonderful World of Mushrooms. She is a frequent contributor to culinary magazines such as Saveur, Fine Cooking, The New York Times Magazine and Food & Wine.

One of the most recognized personalities in Philadelphia dining, Aimee Olexy truly understands what hospitality means. She managed several restaurants in Colorado and attended L’Universite du Vin in France before settling back in Philadelphia in 1999, where she embarked on a variety of ventures with the Starr Restaurant Organization. She is currently the owner of Talula’s Table, which was dubbed by portfolio.com as “The Toughest Table in America” because reservations must be made a year in advance. The New York Times praised the “handsome, deceptively complex and masterfully executed” food, likening the experience to a “spiritual retreat.” Talula’s Garden, which Olexy opened in partnership with Starr in April 2011, aims to capture identical sentiments. “I work a lot and I love it,” says Olexy. “My work is who I am—and that is the only way I know to live.”

Master Chef Joseph Poon is known for his Asian fusion cuisine. He prepares fresh meals with simple elegance—and a dash of adventure. From his quirky venue in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, he hosts private events, conducts “Wok ‘N Walk” tours of Philadelphia Chinatown, and teaches cooking classes. He also leads trips to China and participates in dozens of philanthropic events each year. He recently published an autobiographical cookbook, Life is Short…Cooking is Fun. His warmth and exuberance have earned him appearances on The Tonight Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Food Network’s The Best of… He is regularly featured on The 10 Show and on many television and radio shows. He has also been featured in Nation’s Restaurant News and many consumer magazines, as well as in newspapers from Philadelphia to New Orleans.

A third-generation restaurateur with more than 40 years of culinary experience, Chef Walter Staib began his career in Europe in some of the finest hotels and restaurants before coming to the United States. Chef Staib is currently the driving force behind one of the nation’s most unique dining establishments: Philadelphia’s City Tavern, a faithful recreation of an original eighteenth century tavern. His passion for culinary excellence has earned him many awards, including the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole de la République Française in recognition of his dedication to the advancement of the restaurant industry and the image of France world-wide. In 1986, he was appointed Commandeur by the Association Internationale des Maîtres Conseils en Gastronomie Française and in 1987 was awarded the Silver Plate, the hospitality and restaurant industry’s highest honor. In 1995, he was honored as the first inductee into the Caribbean Culinary Hall of Fame in recognition of his pioneering work founding the Caribbean Culinary Federation. Mr. Staib serves as Ambassador to the Culinary Institute of America and in 1996, was also appointed the First Culinary Ambassador to the city of Philadelphia.

Mike Stollenwerk, chef and restaurateur, has rapidly become a respected key player in Philadelphia’s restaurant scene thanks to his innate culinary understanding, drive for innovation, and steadfast work ethic. After learning the intricacies of the Philly dining scene in the respected kitchens of Davio’s and Avenue B, he purchased Bella Vista’s Little Fish in 2007, and opened Fish in Rittenhouse Square in 2009, boasting a contemporary dining and bar space, an impressive wine list and, and an expertly crafted menu. Stollenwerk’s Fish has garnered recognition from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Food & Wine, and others. Philadelphia magazine named Fish “Best New Restaurant of 2010,” as well as naming Stollenwerk’s dish—Japanese Sea Bass—one of the “230 Best Dishes to Eat in Philly.”

Masterful in the kitchen, Guillermo Tellez has an impeccable 20-year restaurant résumé–from the Trotter empire in Chicago and Los Cabos, Mexico, to Philadelphia’s own celebrated Starr Restaurant Organization, where he was director of menu development for the brand and executive chef at Striped Bass. At his current restaurant, Square 1682, Tellez introduced a “new American” menu that thoughtfully jets from Asia to Mexico, then to India, and circles back home. Each dish is handcrafted using sustainable and organic ingredients, from local seasonal produce to free-range meats and ocean-friendly seafood.

Townsend Wentz is one of the true great culinary talents of Philadelphia. He’s equally comfortable crafting house-made charcuterie, expertly butchering animals, and is well versed in French technique, Spanish influences, and Italian specialties. An alum of The Fountain at the Four Seasons and Lacroix at The Rittenhouse, and executive chef at Twenty21, Wentz has also worked with London-based Chef Yvonnick Lalle in New York City and Connecticut. He currently brings his expertise to McCrossen’s Tavern.

Big thanks to Organic Gardening magazine for sponsoring the culinary room.

A Marketplace of Wonders

March 8, 2012 by

It’s a shopper’s paradise! On a recent stroll through the Flower Show Marketplace, we saw everything from high-tech ratchet pruners, botanical body scrubs, armloads of curly willow, and every type of garden furniture imaginable. Here are a few favorites.

A Show vendor for 12 years, Stems Vases from Anacortes, Washington, celebrates “the art of simple.” Their slim, elegant containers lend themselves to a variety of designs, from layers of colorful citrus slices to a single orchid stem. The glass outer layer is framed in brushed metal and covers an acrylic liner that resists algae growth. While we visited, several show-goers were singing the praises of these containers, saying they use them year-round. In fact, shoppers at the Show were so excited by the concept that the company had its best sales day ever last Sunday!

Mary DeMarco’s La Contessa jewelry captures the spirit of this year’s Show theme with nature-inspired statement pieces. Mary has been designing jewelry for 30 years; we loved the variety of her cast pewter pieces from a soaring bird to a gangly octopus. The pewter is complemented with semiprecious stones such as carnelian, desert jasper,  Mojave green turquoise, and Austrian crystals, and each ring, bracelet, and necklace is more magnificent than the last.

Imagine a school of bright golden koi swimming through a bed of blue ageratum, or a blue trout swimming upstream through the ivy. Maine artist Tyson M. Weiss has created Fish in the Gardens, a line of stainless steel and stoneware fish that add movement and fluid beauty to any landscape. These weather-resistant swimmers are hand crafted and signed by the artist, some featuring true-to-life details, while others are painted as one-of-a-kind species. In addition to the stoneware varieties, the artist creates stainless-steel fish that will not rust and can be hand-shaped to swim around the trunk of a tree—so cute!

Dave and Jill Wallace from Bittersweet Herb Farm have brought their extensive line of seasonings to the Show. Varieties include wild blueberry and limoncello jam, chai tea marmalade, and Show-favorite wasabi ginger finishing sauce. This family-run business from Massachusetts has brought gourmet products to the Show for 24 years, delighting buyers with not only the food, but the warmth with which it is presented. “We try to have fun!” said Jill.

Through Laura’s Lens: What’s Six Feet Long with a Fourteen-Syllable Name and Hundreds of Flowers?

March 8, 2012 by

Why it’s Nopalxochia phyllanthoides ‘deutsche kaiserin’—one of Mrs. Samuel M. V. Hamilton’s favorite plants. (Mine too, although I don’t expect mine to look like this any time soon.)

Photo of Nopalxochia phyllanthoides

Bursting into bloom just in time for the Flower Show is the fabulous Nopalxochia phyllanthoides 'deutsche kaiserin'. See how the strappy leaves almost reach the ground.

This glorious plant, also called Cereus phyllanthoides, Epiphyllum phylanthoides, orchid cactus, or pond-lily cactus, was discovered in April 1801 in the trunks of old trees near the small village of Turbaco, a few leagues south of Carthagena.

It first flowered in Europe in May 1811 in the garden of the Empress Josephine and in another botanical garden in France. It became a popular parlor plant during Victorian times, probably because the winter weather encouraged it to bloom.

Close-up of Nopalxochia blooms

A closer look at the flowers, from a just-opening bud at lower right to a fully-open flower, upper left.

It takes cool temperatures to make this beauty bloom, but in the summer it can tolerate temperatures as high as 100F, as long as it doesn’t get direct sun.

Like all epiphytic (tree-dwelling) plants, it doesn’t like wet feet, although it does like to be kept fairly moist. Too much water makes the roots rot, as I found out the hard way. Take cuttings after the plant has bloomed, let them dry a bit, and root them in vermiculite or other medium that drains well.

There are other epiphytic cacti with knock-out blooms, some as large as your fist. Meadowbrook Farm has a number in its cactus greenhouse and will sell you a cutting, or even start you a plant. You can also learn more about these remarkable plants by joining the Philadelphia Cactus & Succulent Society or visiting its booth at the Flower Show.

A Wedding in Paradise for Two Show Exhibitors

March 8, 2012 by

When you work for PHS, the Flower Show is like a big family reunion. Each year we get together, swap stories, and make new memories. A major memory was made yesterday when two of our beloved Show exhibitors tied the knot in front of hundreds of visitors on the Flower Show stage.

You can read about the love story between Bill Schaffer (of Schaffer Designs) and Kris Kratt here. And believe me, there wasn’t a dry eye when the two exchanged vows surrounded by orchids of every color.

Later, at the reception, the couple cut an ocean-blue multi-tiered wedding cake created by Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop, home of the Cake Boss. In fact, the TV crew for the popular TLC reality series filmed the event for a future episode.

Adding to the evening’s excitement was the announcement that Liberty Travel has donated a honeymoon vacation to the new bride a groom. The destination? Hawaii, of course.

Join PHS and everyone involved with the Flower Show as we toast to Bill and Kris!

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