By: Karen Cohen
Well, I have never been surrounded by so many LIVE creatures in the form of gorgeous flowers and plants in my life! Well, ok, maybe when I would make my monthly pilgrimage to the Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC. That place, especially at holiday time, would blow your mind with the amount of greenery and poinsettias. Last week I attended the longest running flower show in our nation, the Philadelphia Flower Show in Pennsylvania. Along with my experienced gardening friend, a professional orchid grower, the two of us were stunned into complete silence by the multitudes of floral displays, creative competitions and award winners, and then there was the vendor section…for sale items. Jaws dropped.
With one day to complete the world’s largest indoor flower show, we hustled about cutting through crowds, though they weren’t all there at the same time, thank goodness. We came prepared for walking… and walking. First, we entered the Garden Electric gardens, the moniker for the show. Hanging from a very high ceiling were flowerpots, large and full, and turned upside down. That’s right, double take! We wondered how the flowers, dirt, and moss were held in the pots, bottoms up! All I can say is, I won’t try that trick at home.
Purple and blue strobe lights flashed across an array of flowers and plants; I could hear the Bee Gees singing somewhere, Stayin’ Alive, was it? We had the urge to break into a disco dance, so we did! Two ole hippie chicks dancing around doesn’t really draw much attention, not when there are more beautiful things to look at, like the flowers!
For a low ticket price of $40, we certainly got our money’s worth. My friend scooped up a bucket full of assorted bags of peony tubers, buy five get one free! Prices for those ranged from $13 a bag to $125. I couldn’t resist buying from a vendor whose name was Peony’s Envy! I bought a layered pink and cream peony called Sorbet for $28 which promises many blooms per stem along with fragrance. Oh, la la.
Peonies are perennials and very easy to grow. If you are having trouble growing these, it may be that you planted the tuber too deep. They will not flower if you do. Dig them back up carefully, not to break the roots and dig a shallow 1 ½-2 ” deep trench, lay the tubers in and cover with just about 1-2 inches of loose soil; let the “eyes” face upwards and even poke out of the soil. It’s best to put them into the garden in late fall so they can establish themselves over the winter and that’s the same time to divide them to replant. Since I bought mine in March, I put them in the fridge till the cold soil outside unfreezes and then I will plant them. No need to add fertilizer because they require low nitrogen. It may take 2-3 years for these to flower but when they do…they do put on a show!
We also visited the netted tent called Butterflies Alive! Hundreds of butterflies of all shapes, colors, and sizes were flitting about, landing on everyone’s heads, shoulders, and shoes. We were warned to be careful not to crush any! It was so much fun to hold out your hand and have one perch on your fingers. Of course, cell phones were snapping away like mad.
Artwork, garden art, gardening tools, armchairs, wind chimes, bath bombs, herbal olive oils, and bird houses are just a handful of the many goodies to peruse and take home. Let’s not leave out the oodles of attractive house plants. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, I promise you, you can adopt certain plants for inside your home. I look for low light plants that like consistently warm temperatures, such as Philodendrons or Tradescantia Nanouk (also called Fantasy Venice). These are both easy to care for. Just hang these up in a window, even the bathroom window for indirect light, and let them grow wild and free. A light watering once a week or only when the soil feels dry is all that is needed to keep these vines sprouting more green leaves. Both of these will thrive indoors for many years! If you are a beginner, I wouldn’t purchase a bonsai tree; these require attention and careful pruning.
For novices with a desire to indulge your non-green thumbs, buy an air plant. Yes, there is a plant which requires really nothing but air, light, and very little water. With strange names like Aeranthos or Brachycaulos, these plants are epiphytes and can produce flowers and offshoots. Lifespan is about two to five years but a single plant if properly treated can last indefinitely.
Treat your senses to flowers and plants, all things live! It really will perk up a long drawn out winter and will guarantee you to liven up!
(Karen Cohen grows flowers and vegetables organically and loves to explore the woods! Seed and plant lovers can sign up for the seed/plant swap gathering in Lewisburg by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And happy growing!)