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Annual Philadelphia Flower Show

Spring is not only the season of gardening but also the season for flower and garden shows. The International Garden Festival just kicked-off at the chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire in France, while the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London begins next week. (Wish I was there...)

Fortunately, we have already had some fun. Before 2 feet of heavy snow pummeled the US east coast in early March, business manager Jennifer Hannah and I flew in and out of Philadelphia just in time to explore the renowned Philadelphia Flower Show.

For those of us who love good garden design, this event is somewhat of a pilgrimage, and certainly something to savor. The oldest and largest flower show (dating back to 1829), the event includes acres of gardens, plants, floral displays, demonstrations and lectures of all sorts. Inspiration at every turn!

This year's theme was "Holland: Flowering the World." Stunning displays captured the iconic elements of Dutch gardens: canals, geometric layouts, bulbs, bicycles, and wooden clogs.

The show was a great opportunity to meet other professional garden designers and to gather knowledge and inspiration.

I brought back some fresh ideas to implement into my designs - like new ways to improve our environmental stewardship, reuse materials, creatively label plants, plant for diversity, grow edibles, and manage water run-off. We gleaned useful information on the best greenhouses, outdoor kitchens, patio umbrellas, and hardscaping materials to bring home with us.

Jennifer and I could not resist purchasing our share of garden tools, books, unusual seeds, a handcrafted birdbath, a new system for repelling deer, bare-root saplings, and fun jewelry made from seeds and nuts.

Next on the calendar for inspirational garden events is the

This self-guided tour promises "different and creative ways to showcase a variety of native and specimen plants, solve steep slope and water problems, grow veggies, integrate art into the landscape, attract pollinators, and invite peaceful contemplation." Who doesn't want to know more about those topics? Plus, proceeds support local school garden programs.

(Here we are at the show. Jennifer left, me right. Don't we look happy!)

Back on home turf in Asheville, we are more inspired than ever to be in this dynamic, exciting field of garden design.

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