Look, She’s Moving!
March 5th, 2013
The 38-foot-tall, video-playing Big Ben clock might be getting the most attention, and Jack the Ripper’s neighborhood might have the longest lines, but I’ll take the white lady…
… The white lady as in the angelic, pure-white mime who’s portraying a moving statue in the E.P. Henry display garden at the 2013 Philadelphia International Flower Show.
That’s been my favorite part of this year’s British-themed show – even better than the flower-filled cricket-club garden.
I’m not the only one either. When the mime starts her act, people swarm six and eight layers deep to watch her do her thing. (See the video I shot of her on YouTube.)
At first, people can’t figure it out.
When she’s holding a pose, she looks a whole lot like the white concrete statues to her right and left.
But keep watching and she begins to slowly move and change her pose.
I overheard some people wondering, “Is that one of those animatronic robots? No, I think she’s real!”
She definitely is, but her movements are so graceful that it’s easy to doubt. She’s pure white from head to toe and even keeps her eyes closed so you can’t pick up on any eyeball clues.
The setting is also beautiful. She stands in the middle of a brick pavilion that overlooks a rectangular pond equipped with spouting fountains and changing lights.
I’ve seen 20-something Philly Flower Shows now, and they always impress me.
Some years are better than others, and every show has a few duds mixed among the gems. But I’ve never been disappointed or been to a “bad” Philly show.
This one I like a little better than most.
Most of the people I’ve taken to the show on bus trips this week are saying the same thing – mainly because this year’s theme involves plants and styles that are more familiar to us than, say, last year’s Hawaiian theme that featured tropicals that we really can’t grow.
The main entry is always some kind of “wow” attraction, and this year it’s a replica of Big Ben.
You first walk through a pair of flower-adorned, celosia-crowned palace gates and then down a red carpet and past flanking allees of clump white birch.
Big Ben is actually a four-sided theater that shows animated videos of British pop culture set to pulsating British rock music and flashing lights.
I could do without that part, which is probably a sign I’m getting old. I’ll take soft, relaxing music and quiet lighting in my gardens, thank you.
Big Ben Plaza surrounding the Big Ben clock/theater is very well done, though.
It’s got several levels of walls with a classy four-drop waterfall leading from an 8-foot-tall vertical sheet of water.
Roses and oversized flower pots fill most of the plaza, but there are also three other geometric pools with oblong sculptures in the center of each. One is made of recycled garden hoses, one is made of tire treads, and one is made of sections of copper tubing.
So far as display gardens, I liked J. Downend Landscaping’s “The Scorer’s Garden,” which is set around a cricket scoreboard and scorer’s equipment shed.
This whole landscape is filled with flowers from spring through summer – all blooming at the same time.
That’s one of the things I like about the Flower Show. Growers force scores (if not hundreds) of plant varieties into bloom for these 9 days. It’s one place where you can see roses, zinnias and butterfly bushes blooming at the same time as azaleas, tulips and viburnums.
Some of the other folks on my trips liked the “London Fog” display, which featured an overlapping collection of oversized umbrellas covering a foggy British pond.
“The Crown Jewels” was another popular spot. In this recreated section of the Tower of London, florists created arrangements inspired by different gemstones. My favorite was the Royal Throne with its seat and seatback made out of red roses.
The British “roundabout” with each quadrant filled with Bentley-sized floral arrangements from four different time periods was another eye-popper.
And for cuteness (my wife’s term), there was “The Mad Tea Party,” a floral table setting surrounded by quirky features from The Mad Hatter and four metal sculptures from the fantasy as well.
You’ve only got until Sunday, March 10, to see this year’s show before it all gets torn apart for another year.
The rest of my bus trips are already full, so sorry I can’t help you get there. You could take Amtrak and Septa trains or bite the bullet and brave the Schuylkill Expressway and $20-a-day parking lots.