Just finished an interview with Arlene Bynon on Planes Train and Automobiles on Philadelphia. I ranked it 8 out of 10 for cities to visit. More information at visitphilly.com
Here's my article from the Hamilton Spectator:
It’s time for hot, horizontal, horticulture. That’s my headline for spring after a trend safari to Philadelphia. Burned in my brain is the sizzling colour of a hibiscus called Erin Rachel. Combine neon orange and lipstick pink in a flower as big as a muskmelon and you have a starburst of excitement. Erin Rachel was at Longwood Gardens, on the outskirts of Philadelphia in Kennett Square.
Their conservatories are breathtaking. Popsicle orange clivia’s popped up throughout the gardens, there to make blue flowers like cineraria look even bluer. Pansies, daffodils, and red-hot pokers added their unabashed vibrancy, and a gorgeous freckled kohleria tumbled out of pots beneath perfect tree ferns.
In contrast to the heavy breathing tropicals, The Silver Garden at Longwood unfolds like a wide-angle painting of the desert. Low growing succulents form a horizontal river of blue, broken by the pencil points of Mexican Fence Post cactus. The room breathes cool, even though it is populated by hot desert plants.
The scale of Longwood, a former Du Pont estate, is monumental, but still a thoughtful resource for gardeners. And now nearby, the recently opened Terrain at Styers makes for a one-two punch for those of us crazy about horticulture and ways to display it. The décor store/nursery/café-11 acres in all- is one stop shopping for gardeners. Pots, paintings, plants, books, lights, hardware-they carry everything to turn your home into a spread from a high-end British gardening magazine. In fact if you’re looking for a gift for Kate and Prince William-look no further. Bell jars were hot there, terrariums, weathered wood shelves, and stylish ways to display anything green. They even carried cool garden themed cots for getting horizontal.
Styers was a family run nursery turned in to a home and garden lifestyle destination by Urban Outfitters-and that kind of blend is a trend-making horticulture hot. In Hamilton you can see the same theory working at Terra, Connon Nursery and Garden Gallery.
The Philadelphia Flower Show attracted flocks of gardeners to the city centre while I was there. Though it is a theatrical extravaganza, it is still very much about plants. Not far from the elaborate Paris themed displays were the orderly and dignified horticultural competitions. A place where Mrs. Dorrance Hamilton, known as Dodo, the heir to the Campbell Soup fortune, often wins the blue ribbons. This year her 18 year-old myrtle topiary won a top prize.
Philadelphia is a gardener’s paradise, and a visit there is a marvelous jump-start to our season. We are on the brink of spring now. Canada Blooms is up and running, the blackbirds are back. And my brain is brimming with ideas for the hot, horizontal, horticulture.