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Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

A Flower Show is rather like a Quilt Show…


The Philadelphia Flower Show is rather like a royal banquet: a feast for the eyes…and nose, for that matter. I’m not so green, having been to a few even in the years before my husband and I transplanted ourselves to within walking distance of the Convention Center.  So I can say with some ability to judge by comparison that this year is as sumptuous and exciting as any. Worry not that the theme of Great Britain provides the horticultural parallel to bland English food. Rather, the title: “Brilliant!” inspired exhibitors to bring on the riches and inspiration by the barrel.


The Flower Show is rather like an art exhibit. As I constantly snapped pics–like everyone else holding up an Iphone, cell phone, Ipad, or humongous big box camera with telescoping lens–I realized that  the same elements that make art well, art, make for a successful floral arrangement or garden bed: color, contrast, value, line, texture, pattern play, composition, balance, rhythm, repetition.

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A flower show is rather like a collection of stories.  And storytelling is where the Philadelphia Flower Show exhibits are bloomin’ awesome.  The Commonwealth (of England, that is, not Pennsylvania) provides lots of inspiration for conjuring up romantic idylls—cottage gardens, rustic hideaways, Mary Poppins and Peter Pan roof-tops. There is more than a nod to literature, i.e., Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen.

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Some of the very best scenes were inspired by Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Potter, though my flashbulb dispelled the magic of the dark spaces of  laboratories, back alleys and narrow passageways,  underground subway stations and ancient crypts.

Surely, the graphic jolt and nostalgic sentiments of books and text heightens the take-away of a flower show:

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Pop culture played loud and clear as well, with too many yellow submarines to count, and a Peter Max-like review of musicians playing on the Big Ben clockface screen.


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A flower show is rather a heady affair, and with a British accent and the most recent royal wedding, this means crowns and fascinators. You remember, those little headpieces that defy gravity as they perch atop the head? The breakout fashion accessory seen at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? Lots of show-goers took advantage of a make-and-take opportunity and sported their fascinators through the show and out into the wintry winds. Of course, the headgear of the show were all composed of floral sprigs, stalks, berries, pods, leaves, moss, and fresh flowers.



One popular feature of the flower show is rather like an exhibit of  dollhouses. There are always long lines to peer at the miniature displays, but at the end of the evening on a Monday, I was able to drag the husband through at a good clip. He admitted the prize winners were mind-bogglingly sophisticated, rather than cloyingly cute.


A flower show is rather like a scavenger hunt: Looking closely rewards you with inspiration for recycled and unusual materials and containers.


Come to think of it, the Philadelphia Flower Show delivers everything I love about quilts in a juried quilt show: all the elements of art and artistry, storytelling, surprising materials and innovative techniques, use of text and graphics,  fascinating wearables, and fabulous miniatures.

It even included a quilt hidden among the foliage! A priceless olde English heirloom you’d put out in the garden…methinks not! More likely, a tufted pinwheel pattern of feedsack fabrics, and downright American.



Yes, a flower show is very like a quilt show. So you tell me, why do YOU think so many quilters are fond of gardening?

9 Responses to “A Flower Show is rather like a Quilt Show…”

  1. Karen Horton says:

    Eleanor, this is great — would love to see it. Not in the cards this year, but maybe next? So if you want company in 2014, holler!
    Can almost smell spring looking at the images.


  2. Nice blog and great flower show! I love looking at flowers.

  3. Carl Harringto says:

    “Brilliant” pictures and commentary.

    If you go to the flower show, don’t miss the Jack the Ripper exhibit. Dark and mysterious but a ripping good exhibit.

    • Eleanor says:

      Here’s how it’s described in the Flower show notes: “This exhibit travels back to 1888 and the distorted, dark streets, the cold, factory-driven silhouettes of the East End, the back-alleys where illicit activities were the norm. And Jack the Ripper roamed.” Sounds dismal. Looks divine.

  4. Heidi Butler says:

    Beautiful writing. Not a prepositional pile-up in the piece. Gorgeous pictures. Makes even this failure of a gardener want to go to the show.

  5. Beth Wheeler says:

    This is fabulous Eleanor! It makes the small Home Show in Fort Wayne look mighty puny. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Leona Law says:

    Glad to see you remain a visual person. Photos make you feel almost a smell. Thanks for the visit!
    Hope to be in the city with Trina and Nancy, in the spring. We will call for a lunch date.
    Peace, Leona

  7. HelenMarie Marshall says:

    Think that is a flowering crabapple…maybe in latin is is a “prunus” something

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