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    More than flowers in gardens at Phila. Flower Show

    The backyard chickens attracted a large gathering at a garden display inspired by the junkyard in the movie “Cars.” One chicken was picking at the straw floor near an old rusty car with netting on its doors. At one corner of the fenced plot, another chicken – perhaps pooped from all the attention – took a break from our gawking as another stood by ignoring us.

    The live chickens were part of a display by Burke Brothers Landscape Design/Build at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show. I wasn’t taken as much with them as I was with the vintage vehicles embedded into the display. Around the corner from the chicken coop, I had first spotted the back end of a long-forgotten tow truck, its metal hauling hook still attached, with an artsy display of ferns, moss, white flowers and more.

    At another corner was the bulky front end of another old truck, with flowers and green plants tucked into various spaces. I seem to be bumping into these old vehicles quite often.

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    One of three live chickens in a display inspired by the junkyard in the movie “Cars.”

    This was my first trip to the grand dame of flower shows in some years. I used to go every year to bath myself in the warmth of spring indoors against the harshness of winter outside. And that was definitely the case this time around. Dirty snow was still piled high on the sides of streets, and fresh snow coupled with sleet and freezing rain was expected later in the day.

    This show bills itself as the longest-running and largest indoor flower show in the world. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, it is in its 186th year, and the theme this year is “Celebrate the Movies.” It ends on Sunday, March 8, 2015.

    I volunteered for the “Make and Take” room where visitors paid $10 to create hats (or a terrarium for $20) from flowers and other tchotchkes with a movie theme. Folks didn’t necessarily have to make an Audrey Hepburn or a Carmen Miranda hat. Volunteers were encouraged to make their own hats, so I made a simple headpiece, white gardenias on a black band to represent Lady Day. So what that she was more singer than actress (she played opposite Louis Armstrong in “New Orleans,” 1947), but I wanted to give Billie Holiday her due. For those who didn’t get my drift, I wrote her name on a slip of paper and my auction pal Rebecca attached it to the band.

    http://www.waldor.com/

    A lovely copper bench was very inviting.

    The movie displays at the flower show were inspired by Disney movies – from “Tarzan” to “Frozen” to “Into the Woods” to “Ratatouille” to “Nightmare Before Christmas.” A beautiful architectural sculpture in wood represented the movie “Malificent.” Just as I remembered, the miniatures were still very popular, with a long line of people waiting to get a look inside the shadowboxes. “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” the exterior of Dorothy’s house after it landed on the wicked witch, took first place in that category.

    The chickens-and-cars display was based on the junkyard in the movie “Cars.” The chickens didn’t draw as many people as the boxes for the short time I was there, but they were obviously popular. Who’d expect to see live chickens in an exhibit where most of the “live” in the garden displays were flowers (although a few were starting to wilt on this fifth day of the show). A sign on the fence told the story of the backyard chickens:

    The Burke Brothers company raises a small flock of the birds at their site, giving them a “nice place to live with lots of love and attention.” The chickens return the favor by helping to reduce kitchen waste, control insects, and provide fresh eggs for consuming and manure for composting.

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    A display from “Into the Woods,” with crystal lantern-like inserts tucked in the ground. They appeared to be glass saucers and other pieces glued together.

    The fencing also bore another sign: DO NOT FEED CHICKENS. The sign was handwritten; it was probably added during the show after folks started tossing food to the birds.

    There was also an amazing display of orchids, both in a garden and in competitive categories. A pot of red orchids named “Jewel Box” from Waldor Orchids drew my attention, because I had not seen orchids in that color before. Later, I saw another pot at the company’s retail booth at the show. It had a “Not for Sale” sign on a leaf.

    I was surprised to see so much non-garden-related merchandise for sale, a far cry from my early years of visiting the show. The elaborate garden displays were too few and the retail section too many. You could buy anything from jewelry to paintings to salad dressing to chocolate candy to electricity service. This show is a fundraiser for the horticultural society, I reminded myself, so this is another way to fatten the coffers.

    Here are photos of some of the garden accessories and other creations at the show:

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    These garden lights change colors.

     

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    Hollywood hats inspired by actresses: From left, Audrey Hepburn, first place; Esther Williams, second place; Greta Garbo, third place; Maria Montez, honorable mention.

     

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    Window boxes inspired by actors: Sidney Poiter, left; John Wayne, center, first place; Robert Redford, right, second place.

     

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    I believe this is from the Solanum species.

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    A red “Jewel Box” orchid.

     

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    Overhead, an overflowing chandelier of tea lights, calla lilies and a host of other flowers.

     

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    The rear end of a tow truck from the “Cars” exhibit.

     

    Philadelphia Flower Show

    Front end of a truck in the “Cars” exhibit.

     

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