Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Philadelphia Flower Show Announces Over 30 Prestigious Awards Presented for Horticultural Excellence

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society shares the list of award winners at the 2022 Philadelphia Flower Show, “In Full Bloom.” Categories this year included the coveted ‘Best in Show’ award, The Governor’s Trophy, and The Philadelphia Trophy, among over 30 others presented for horticultural excellence and mastery of this year’s theme.

This year’s Flower Show featured a roster of 40 of the world’s best landscape architects and garden designers and placed special emphasis on diversity. Exhibitors varied in their interpretations of the theme, professional experience and background, gender, personal identities, and more.

Bill and I were able to visit all the entrants and experience the immersive designs. All the gardens were designed with great care and passion ~ I love the stories behind the garden designs.

The sought-after “PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Cup - Best in Show” award was presented to Mark Cook Landscape & Contracting LLC for its excellent representation of theme and garden design. Mark Cook, the owner of Mark Cook Landscape & Contracting, is known for his innovative designs which have won him various awards in each Philadelphia Flower Show over the last 11 years, including Best in Show in 2020 and 2017, and the Silver Trophy in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

The Silver Trophy was awarded to Susan Cohan Gardens, who created a peaceful and beautiful space meant to encourage visitors to reflect and dream, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own.” Susan’s garden was dreamy, colorful, and serene. It’s a terrific presentation of the power of plants.



The Governor’s Trophy was awarded to Refugia Design, who designed its exhibit to be alive with sights, sounds, and smells and featured native plants, sustainable materials, and innovative soundscapes. We loved the mushroom archway and the “amplified” perspective ….



The Philadelphia Trophy was awarded to Auburn University Landscape Architecture Program with “Conquer the Soil,” whose striking exhibit made use of color, depth, and perspective. I had the distinct honor to interview Abra Lee, Conquer the Soil, on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations in February this year, and wrote a follow up blog post here on Garden Glamour. Reading this important reference to W.E.B DuBois, I recognized Abra’s contribution! Cheers to Effie Lee Newsome and her children’s nature poetry. “Mixed Shades, Much Joy.” And the gazing portholes into the garden in this presentation are brilliant. Great perspectives into plants and horticulture. And history…



The 2022 Flower Show is the second time the Show has been held outdoors in its almost 200-year history. Held at South Philadelphia’s FDR Park, “In Full Bloom” connotes good health, positive well-being, and a passion for life, and encourages all to recognize the restorative power of nature and plants, as well as the importance of mental and emotional health that contribute to a person being “In Full Bloom.”

Congratulations to all the winners! But I also truly believe that all the attendees and the real winners ~ we get to feast our eyes on these inspiring garden designs. Plus, the Flower Show offers classes, tours, and lots of food and drink.

Food and Drink and Experiences

Through a blend of culinary artistry, local flavors, and diverse cuisine, OVG360 and Brûlée Catering have joined forces with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to incorporate a wide variety of food and beverage options into the Philadelphia Flower Show experience, which will once again returned to FDR Park.

With these elevated and reimagined dining experiences, the Flower Show will bloom bigger and brighter than ever before, offering guests dining options to suit every preference and palate.

This year’s Flower Show will offers several new guest experiences, including new on-site activities and events, new family-friendly spaces, and a new show layout. The dining experience has also been revamped and the Show will feature cuisine from near and far, with an emphasis on local culinary talent. Guests can also look forward to refreshing floral-inspired cocktails, hometown Philadelphia favorites, dishes fresh off the grill, smoothies, salads, and delectable desserts.

This year, guests will be able to unwind at a Happy Hour with Fine Wine & Good Spirits, grab a bite and listen to some music at the Food Bazaar, share a casual drink and bite to eat at the Boathouse, explore a collection of dozens of notable food vendors, or enjoy an expertly prepared meal while seated in The Lakes restaurant.

For more about these unique dining experiences and to get your tickets, please visit at the 2022 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Pretty in Pink: Peonies Grace a Tablescape Designed for Peace and Love



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I wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s no secret that I love, love, love peonies.

They are my favorite flower. (Don’t tell the viburnum or the hydrangea, nor the casablanca lily, or…)

I grow a variety of deciduous and itoh peonies ~ Paeonia Itoh ‘Julia Rose.”

My heart does skip an extra beat for ranunculus ~ I’m even growing them this year, for the first time. We’ll see how this turns out.

I find the papery-thin, voluminous, petticoat-like blossoms of the ranunculus and the peony, similar in a romantic, seductive way that is just so heart-clutching. Turns out they are genus cousins, if you will; part of the same taxonomy family.

But the fragrance of the peony makes it the luxurious, glamour-girl of the garden.

That it is also a symbol of peace makes this beauty the perfect star of my recent tablescape. Now that the peonies have been in full-bloom in the garden, I hope this lovely table decor, brimming with peace and love, inspires you … 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Inspiring Horticulturist & Author Abra Lee, Shares Garden History Discoveries from "Conquer The Soil"

I was smitten with Abra Lee and her groundbreaking work the moment I was introduced to her. (Pun intended.)

See, Abra Lee is a horticulturist; a gardener.
Lee is also a refreshing, revolutionary kind of garden historian, speaker, and author of the soon-to-be-released book Conquer the Soil that, according to Timber Press, her publisher, “profiles 45 hidden figures of horticulture—the Black men and women whose accomplished careers in the plant world are little known or untold.”

If you’re like me, there’s nothing better than “digging in;” satiating one’s curiosity.

I love to learn and to be inspired.

Abra Lee checked all the boxes. I couldn’t wait to soak up more. A garden adventure awaited…

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

A Bee-utiful Spring Table Design: Home Entertaining Pays Homage to the Garden & Pollinators

 

I love the happy colors of spring; they just seem to tickle us in yellow sunshine after a dark winter. 
I believe the art of home entertaining and distinctive tablescapes are more than just “pretty.” They tell a story…

For this special tablescape design, I wanted to keep the yellow color theme, plus incorporate an environmental message to honor one of our most beloved pollinators: the bee. 
Here’s how I designed the happy, layered look. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Our Trees are Stars of Film, Poetry, & Books: Arbor Day Tree Tips to Grow Inspiring Native Trees at Your Home

 Avatar tree, Forest landscape, Avatar movie

Hands down, my favorite tree as a main character in the Avatar film is The Tree of Souls, the giant willow tree that is the Mother tree, that is the sacred soul ~ the connection to spiritual and guiding forces. 

There were also those magical floating trees. Ahhhh… 

It was pure heaven for me. And seeing it in 3-D is about as magical as it gets for a tree and nature lover like me. 

Ents are trees in Lord of the Rings. Their leader is Treebeard of Fangorn forest. They are similar to the talking trees in folklore around the world. 

In researching my homage to trees for Arbor Day this year, I learned more about The White Tree of Gondor that stood as a symbol of Gondor in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith. 

There are the apple trees in The Wizard of Oz, the Whomping Willow Tree in Harry Potter and the Tree of Life in The Lion King. 

Why do trees so often inspire not only filmmakers but poets, fine artists, musicians and well, all of us? 


Thursday, April 21, 2022

What You Can Do For Earth Day to "Invest in Our Planet" and Our Healthy Future

 

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When one is a gardener and landscape designer, as well as a passionate naturalist, everyday is Earth Day. However, marking the day April 22 as the official Earth Day, says as much about the collective, global observance as it does on an individual who is keen to “observe the interconnected relationships between plants, birds, trees & ecology so we can understand the past, present & future of our local and global environments,” as described in Nature Mentoring.


I have been following the Earth Day organization and its efforts from its early days; not long after they launched in 1970. At that time, the effort was an answer to what was termed a “Crisis of Survival.” Reportedly, ten percent of the US population marched to demonstrate the impact of industrial development!  

I thought the effort was an, ahem, natural evolution. Meaning that once folks learned how bad pollutants and environmental destruction was, the solution would be within reach.  After all, who wanted to eat contaminated food or breathe bad air or swim in fouled, poisoned waters.  We were smarter and, collectively, we’d solve this crisis. 

And yet, here we are, 52 years later. Do you think we are better off or has the crisis deepened?

This year, the global organizer announced that the theme for Earth Day 2022’s celebration is “Invest in Our Planet.”  

But what does that mean?

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Egg Art: "Egg-cellent" Ways to Dye Your Eggs Naturally ~ Plus a Devilishly Delicious Egg Recipe

 

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If one is a dedicated foodie; moreover a bit compulsive about sustainability and keeping chemicals off your family’s ingredients menu, then coloring Easter or spring eggs should be made using homegrown, pure ingredients, not synthetic food coloring.  Some years ago, I set out to discover – or rediscover – how to color eggs with natural – plant-based dyes. Yes, the fizzie PAAS Easter Eggs is a holiday favorite or tradition.  But those pellets are rather scary. 

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Got You Covered! Pretty Ornamental, Native, & Evergreen Ground Cover Plants Your Garden Will Love

 

“Ground Cover” sounds so pedestrian. So banal. Yet, we shouldn’t “look down” upon these workhorses of good garden design. Rather, let’s think of Ground Covers as a kind of garden tapestry that adds a carpet of beautiful color, (oh the metaphors!) along with fragrance, and texture ~ all while keeping the soil in and weeds out. 

Let’s explore what are some of the best, most beautiful, easy-maintenance ground covers; many that are native which are beneficial for the pollinators, too. And you’ll see that these pretty, low-growing blooms look so fetching as cut flowers for your indoor floral design compositions. 

Here, I’ll share with you some of my favorite, go-to groundcovers that I turn to when designing for my clients and in my own gardens.  

 

Monday, April 4, 2022

What's Up Doc? Celebrate International Carrot Day with Vibrant Recipes, A Beloved Cartoon Legend & Happy Horticulture

 

I know, I know. There is a marked day for everything. Everything. But as a card-carrying fan of the sexy carrot, I couldn’t pass on this party.


“Digging” into this a wee bit (!) I learned that the April 4th celebration of my favorite vegetable was launched in 2003 as The International Carrot Day and is “the pinnacle for carrot lovers all around the world. It is the day when the carrot is celebrated through carrot parties and other carrot related festivities.” Who knew?!


I wondered, is this yet another example of my British ancestor’s satirical poke at the “art of the carrot,” a leap down the proverbial “rabbit hole,” or is it an opportunity to explore the magic of the carrot? (Never mind pulling a rabbit out of the hat!)  Oh, the irony, the humor… And when did rabbits and carrots become a pair, anyway? 


Did you know there is a Carrot Museum, albeit a virtual one. Here you can learn the history of the humble wild carrot - we’ve been crunching carrots since prehistoric times and the garden carrots since the Middle Ages. So much horticulture, folklore, nutrition and folly about my beloved vegetable. No less than Pliny the Elder suggested the carrot seed made a fine love potion… 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Women's History Month Honors Macchu Pisco CEO: Melanie Asher's Meditation on Her Mindful Distillation & Career ~ Interview with Ladies Who Lunch Conversations



Melanie da Trindade-Asher

CEO, Founder, Master Distiller, Macchu Pisco, 

Featured Guest: Ladies Who Lunch Conversations 

 

In retrospect, it’s rather cosmic that I met Melanie Asher at a “Star Chefs” food event in Brooklyn. There, I met a true “star” of the burgeoning cocktail culture,  who was in fact, a pioneer leading the way. I was writing for the Examiner then, covering the radical food and drink world in New York City. It was an exciting time. So many new possibilities. And opportunities…Then, as now, Melanie triumphs. Hence, I was over the moon that she agreed to be a special guest on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations, to share her career journey (so far) and meditations on life.  Just in time for Women’s History Month, I honor Melanie and highlight her special contributions to our world. And I offer a delightful Pisco cocktail recipe to enjoy while you read ~ and watch the Conversation!

 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

I'm Tasting Stars! Champagne Cocktail Recipes for A Glamorous Oscar Party

 Image result for oscar winning stars drinking photos

Say what you want about the Oscars but I think we need this bit of red carpet glam, fashion, and entertainment now more than ever. 

The 94th annual Academy Awards is a frothy escape that you can enjoy at home. So whether you’ll be hosting a party or snuggling solo, you’ll just need your bingo card/Oscar Form Guide (a la Ascot or Santa Anita) and a food and drink menu. I've got your award-winning drink recipes.

After all, the televised festivities kick off at early afternoon for pre-shows; 8 EDT for the Oscar. (check local listings/streaming options). You can spend most of your day – and night, with Oscar! 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Inspired by the Emerald Isle: Eight Pretty Irish Flowers You Can Grow to Enjoy a Greener Garden Life


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While we most often celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a robust combination of food, drink, fashions, parades, along with singing and dancing traditions; as a garden designer and horticulturist, I thought it appropriate to mark the day with Irish Flowers. 

After all, Ireland is referred to as the Emerald Isle for good reason. With its rain and moist air and moderate temperatures, it’s a kind of Shangri La or plant utopia. So while I wouldn’t ever change up your affinity for such customs as drinking green beer while crooning “Danny Boy” or wearin’ the green to the local pub for corned beef and cabbage, I wanted to add a bit of garden magic to your Irish festivities. And who knows, maybe you’ll be dusted with some of a sprite’s fairy dust and be inspired to grow some of these Celtic classics.

Monday, March 14, 2022

How to Ignite Your Garden Beds for Spring: "Fire Farming" Ornamental Grasses & Pruning Perennials

       

Oh the Sunlight!  Just when you think you can’t take the darkness anymore, we turn the clocks. Happy Daylight Savings Time. 

With the days getting longer; the ground starting to thaw, it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to gardening. 

But before you start planting anything, especially annuals ~ I recommend you follow my planting guideline that I practice for my gardens and with my garden design team at the clients’ ~ and that is to refrain from planting until after Mother’s Day. There could be an overnight frost.

For now, it’s key to prepare the plants and the beds. 

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Era of Ladies Who Lunch Percolated a Frothy Nexus of Food, Fashion, & Culture




The Intersection of fashion, food, and fame, illuminated by money, politics, media, and society could be found in no place other than Gotham.


The era of the “Ladies Who Lunch” (LWL) best percolated this frothy nexus, hitting its stride mid-century - from the late 1950s and 1960’s; enjoying its heyday throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. 


Some credit Women’s Wear Daily publisher John Fairchild for inventing the phrase, “Ladies Who Lunch.” Stephen Sondheim claims to have coined the moniker: his 1970 hit play Company and LWL ballad sung by Elaine Stritch was a backhanded salute to the grand dames. Not to be “out-lunched,” New York Magazine too claims to have introduced the phrase.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Orchid Show Returns to NYBG in the Bold and Colorful Vision of Famed Floral Designer Jeff Leatham

                                           

You can’t help but feel it. Spring is pulsing. Broadway is back. And in the world of gardens ~ the slowest of the performing arts ~ there is a return engagement as well.  

I received word the other day from The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) that its popular orchid exhibition returns with “The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope, from February 26 through May 1. 

Clearly, the orchids are the heartstopping stars of this show. And yet it cannot be denied that the irrepressible lifestyle icon and floral designer to the stars, Jeff Leatham, shares marquee status. This is a man who so loves orchids that he literally wears that love, well, not on his sleeve, but his leg! The Vanda, his favorite orchid, is tattooed there. Jeff is reprising his role because the 2020 Orchid Show he designed was cut short due to the COVID pandemic. I was fortunate to review the original Kaleidoscope so you’re in for a treat preview here. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Ten Best Trees & Shrubs To Create All-Season Garden Design Beauty, Privacy & Habitat

Spring is tantalizingly close. On my Wellness Walk today I saw Easter-egg colored crocus and leucojum ~ their teeny white heads hanging down like tiny umbrellas, along with  the tips of tulip bulbs peeking out.  Yayyy. The symphony of spring is tuning up.


Meanwhile, with our thoughts turning ever-more to the garden, now is almost the best time to think about the bones or the foundation of your garden. 


Friday, February 18, 2022

Learn How the Godmother of Urban Gardening Grows Hope and Sustainable Food

Karen Washington, farmer, urban gardener, food advocate, activist, and New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Trustee was a distinguished guest recently on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations monthly talk and interview show. 

I’m so very honored to host such extraordinary, inspiring women to explore their captivating, candid, & inspiring stories about their life journeys. These great dames are surely our time’s “women of rank and dignity”; thought-leaders who share their challenges, grit, optimism & more to help turn a talent, hobby, or dream into a well-lived life  


Karen was long a community activist who has been referred to as "urban farming's de facto godmother" by The New York Times

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Love in the Garden ~ NY Botanical Garden Announces Major Exhibit for 2022: Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love

                               

 

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) today announced that its major, institution-wide exhibition for 2022 will be Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love. 

Gotta' Love that!

According to NYBG, “This multifaceted presentation that examines the art and science of foodways and food traditions, many dating back thousands of years, visitors will explore the rich cultural history of what we eat and learn that—from global dietary staples such as rice, beans, squash, and corn to the regional spice and flavor provided by peppers, greens, and tomatoes—plants are at the base of all culinary customs. Expansive displays of living edible plants, art and science installations, weekend celebrations, and wellness and culinary-themed programming will provide opportunities to discover the diversity and beauty of plants that are grown for cuisine around the world; uncover the botanical origins of the foods people think they know; cultivate deeper understanding of the environmental and social impacts of food choices; and invite gathering at artist-designed tables set throughout NYBG’s 250 acres, bringing to life stories about the featured and other notable edible plants. Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love will be on view June 4 through September 11, 2022.”

Monday, February 7, 2022

Winter Gardening Tips to Inspire Your Garden Designs; Green Cocktails and Gardens in Movies!


Making a pivot from my last post and its references to ballet and performance art, I thought I’d “pivot” or jeté back to the garden. Puns intended (smile).

Mac Griswold famously said, “Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts.” 

Mother Nature indeed knows how to choreograph a spectacular show: the colors, the texture, the orchestrated tempo of blooming flowers and blossoms, the dance of myriad pollinators ~ all coordinate to create a spectacular, heart-stopping show. And one of the best parts? The show changes every day! There’s no playbill noting intermissions or understudy.  The show must go on… 

Yet, let’s not forget that a garden is a planned space. I always tell my garden clients that every good garden design tells a story… When creating your garden oasis and telling your story, you need to start with a master plan to reimagine (if you’re just starting out) or to enhance your space (if you’ve already got a cultivated garden). What to do at this time of year if your garden views are white with snow or winter fog? 

Here are some tips to get your garden ready for the spring. Plus a list of movies that feature inspiring gardens, and a garden-to-glass cocktail that is sure to stimulate your green garden fantasies… 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

How to Balance Career & Mental Health: My Conversation with Megan Fairchild: Ballerina, Best-Selling Author

 

One of the very best traditions of the winter Holiday season is to attend the New York City Ballet production to experience George Balanchine’s The NutcrackerⓇ ~ it just whispers legend and folklore and fantasy.  

In that spirit, as I’ve noted in some of my recent social media posts, you can understand why I had my heart set on showcasing a ballerina on my Ladies Who Lunch Conversations during the holidays. 


I was in pursuit of the magic of ballet and its ability to sprinkle us with its fairy dust and transport us to dream worlds.  I felt it in my bones that this was most especially needed in the time of a pandemic.  Art transports us… 


How did the Ladies Who Lunch Conversation come about?  Through a good friend, of course.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

My 2021 Reading Journey ~ Books I Love and Recommend

 

Snow Storms and Books Go Together Like Patience and Fortitude.

It’s a whopper of a blizzard here ~ we’re getting pummeled by snow and wind. 

Therefore I figured it’s a good time to share what I think is an exciting list of books for you to consider reading. 


Despite being blessed with an oversubscribed schedule, I found more time for books last year. I say it this way ~ being blessed with work ~ because especially in a time of the pandemic, I do indeed feel gratitude for being able to do work that I love and that brings value to others. 

That’s a luxury. So is reading. 

As a writer, I often bemoan that I’m too busy working to read as much as I want. Only on vacation was I truly able to feed my insatiable appetite for books: to scarf up, devour books. 

But during the last year, I found or carved out a “sweet spot” combination of audio books I listen to on my daily “Wellness Walks,” hardcover, and Kindle editions. 

Last year, I became intoxicated with books. 

What to read, you ask? 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Birthday 'Look Book' Celebrates Life's Mix of High Points and Sad Lows With Love and Hope

 

I just celebrated another wonderful birthday. Lucky me! And marking a birth day so close to the start of the new calendar year offers the chance to both look back and plan ahead in a tidy way. I’ve had a mix of lovely high points and some sad lows with an unexpected loss that has left me unmoored… Yet, I remain grateful and genetically happy.  Efficiency being a kind of attribute of my zodiac sign, I can happily check off a few boxes at the same time. 

While I’m preternaturally superstitious, it’s also true that I cling to the idea ~ or I daresay promise ~ of astrology. Who doesn’t look to celestial bodies and the stars to help plan their lives?  A “Look Book” portfolio beckoned…

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Embracing The Winter Garden: Tips to Appreciate A Winter Landscape & Cultivate The Seasonal Magic


It was the first snowstorm of the winter season in our area this week.  This snow shower was a Goldilocks gift: meaning it was “just right.” The snow is so pretty; dissipated mid-day and the sun even came out, making the icicles’ prismatic shapes and snow crystals glisten like exotic jewels.

At dusk I was working  in my home-office loft writing and looking out at the clear, twinkling, movie-set New York skyline just beyond, and sensing something,