Philadelphia Flower Show displays feature Dutch designs and student entry takes home gold


This year the Philadelphia Flower Show theme was, “Holland Flowering the World” which inspired entrants to come up with new ways to present beds of tulips, windmills, bridges and the traditional Dutch wooden shoes.

The show, hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and founded in 1829, features the newest plant varieties, garden and design concepts, and organic/sustainable practices.

This year, Mercer’s Horticulture and Plant Science students worked with peers from the Fine Arts, Advertising & Graphic Design, Illustration and Television programs to craft an exhibit called “Postcards from Holland,” that included a park, a farm area, a windmill, a bike, rows of corn, tomatoes and, of course, tulips.

The team was awarded the Gold Medal in the Education category for their effort, and also earned the Alfred M. Campbell Memorial Trophy for their work.

Megan Jean, an Advertising and Design major who helped build the structure told The VOICE: “I am really happy that we won two awards! All of the clubs worked really hard to make everything perfect.”

Getting things perfect required obsessive attention to detail. For example, the flowering park section included yellow and brown witch hazel flowers, pink and red roses, and green tall trees.

Professor Amy Ricco who runs the Horticulture program at Mercer told The VOICE:  “We used 50 different species, our display had close to 700 plants.”

Besides the number of plants there were other considerations.

“Trying to force our plants to bloom in the greenhouse when they normally wouldn’t be blooming,” was a considerable obstacle according to Professor Ricco.

Megan Jean says “the best part was that we had the freedom to come up with a design as long as it fit the theme.”

Before finishing the exhibit, many different parts had to come together outside the Horticulture program itself. For example, the Art Club helped out by painting the windmill.

”The hardest thing was probably having to wait for things to dry and for paint to come in. We couldn’t continue on to the next step until the paint was dry, and the cold probably didn’t help.” said Amanda Tonkery, illustrator major and part of the Art Club at Mercer.

The Graphic Design and Illustration students created postcards and posters for flower show visitors. The pamphlets included facts about Holland and Holland’s unique use of space resources that promote an eco-friendly culture. All this was cemented by a short video, produced by a Television student, focusing on  “Sustainability In Holland” which was played in Mercer’s barn exhibit.

This year many new features were added to the show, such as a light show that was presented in the middle of the convention center. It included music and heavy light concentration on the windmills and bridge.

“This is amazing, the music, the lights and the decorations. It feel[s] like I am in Holland.” said Joe Kasper from New Hope, Pennsylvania.

The PHS displayed 1,240 exhibits this year, which included everything from plants, trees, flowers, to butterflies and dutch landscapes.

There was also a “Wine and Spirits Tasting Room” with a large selection of wine from around the world. And for those who didn’t want to leave their puppies at home there was a “Yappy Hour” where dogs were invited to attend the show and get treats.

“Hey if I can bring my puppy, have a beer and smell flowers, [I am] def…coming back next year” said Martin Fichter, from Philadelphia.

Oak Troise, from Philadelphia said: “I love it, this is my fifth year coming and it’s always great. It puts me in the mood for spring.” The show ran from March 11-19 and attracted around 250,000 visitors. “It’s beautiful, I would love to live here and have a flower.”

Professor Ricco told The VOICE: “Mercer has one of the few horticulture programs in the state.  We have a great program that offers students many opportunities to gain valuable experience and knowledge so they are prepared to either transfer or enter the workforce.”

The Mercer team hopes will defend their title in next year’s Flower Show.