A wide variety of plants at the Los Angeles Arboretum, presented for judging at the 2018 Fern and Exotic Plant Show. Photos by Kathy Rudnyk.

It was during the dead of winter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1829 when the first large scale garden and flower show was first held. Hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Flower Show featured displays and competitions in flower artistry, garden design, and horticulture. Years later, an indoor marketplace opened featuring the latest plants – from mail order nurseries and local garden centers, to photography and tabletop décor contests. As the show grew, numerous weeklong festivities sponsored by big companies kicked-off the spring garden season months ahead of the event. The surrounding local economy benefitted, now attracting over 250,000 people, and generating over $8,000,000 dollars annually in tax revenue (provided the intrusion of foul winter weather).

As this American show in Philadelphia gained prominence, other flower and garden events blossomed around the country, inspiring the growth of other garden shows and events. These shows include:

  • The Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, the youngest on the block opening in 1989
  • The Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, Washington
  • The notable and much lauded Chelsea Flower Show in London, England.

The post-parade public viewing of Rose Parade floats offers an excellent opportunity to inspect the fine craftsmanship of seeds and flower pieces arranged into realistic photo-like imagery up close.

Each year thousands of people stricken with spring fever come together each year inside halls, botanical gardens, and an outdoor marketplace to view living plants – or in the case of our local Rose Parade, line along streets on New Year’s Day for hours to admire floral covered floats. These are activities can be difficult for non-participants to understand unless you’ve been to one of these events yourself.

It takes years to plan the largest of flower and garden shows. The largest of the consumer shows and parades are logistically complex to plan, many which are held during the dead of winter or at the dawn of spring. As someone who has coordinated plants for these events, I can share insight about the challenges related to shipping dormant plants intended for display for only a few days, or maybe even only a couple of hours.

Being a lover of evergreen foliage, I always wondered how a consumer could find beauty in a tree or shrub without any foliage. It inspired me to figure out how to bottle up the excitement I saw over a plant that looked like red sticks inside an exhibit hall at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show and bring it back to Southern California. Even without foliage Cornus sericea ‘Kelseyi’ (Red-Osier Dogwood) could present a welcome relief in Los Angeles where eternal green foliage is seemingly on everyone’s planting list. I have been fortunate enough to find just the right places and spaces to celebrate these winter dormant colorful architectural shrubs in Los Angeles.

In March, it may still be snowing outside in Philadelphia, but year after year gardening enthusiasts bring their plants to the city for judging. Their dedicated efforts face a panel of critical judges who inspect each specimen, leaf by leaf and stem by stem, searching the perfect plant according to theme or class of plants. Countless tropical plants and orchids are on display all along tables for judging, and competition is really fierce, with significant prizes at stake. I once attended a Camellia show at Descanso Gardens where tables liked with sparkly Waterford crystal were offered as trophies!

Award winning entries at the Los Angeles Arboretum’s popular Inter-City Cactus Show & Sale.

During the Great Recession, many of these larger flower and garden shows struggled. The costs were too high for many nurseries to continue exhibiting at these events. For the average American struggling with rising living costs and less disposable income to spend on gardening and traveling, attendance dropped dramatically, only seeing an uptick from 2014 on. Today, these shows still struggle to appeal to gardeners beyond the aging Baby Boomer generation.

My favorite garden shows are local events featuring a specific type of plant, like succulents, cacti, orchids, ferns or bonsai. Even though I have been in the horticulture industry for over 25 years, I always discover amazing plants at these dedicated shows, revealing fresh observations that creatively inspire me or help me mentor a younger designer with a passion for plants. Recently, I went to the Fern and Exotic Plant Show where I saw tables of terrarium and hanging plants, presenting me with new ways to look at ferns, specifically their foliage and the spores underneath each leaf!

Learning about orchids is a fun opportunity at The Huntington’s annual International Orchid Show and Sale!

Attending plant and flower shows gives enthusiasts and professionals alike the opportunity to get close up and personal with specimens, like this table full of various Epiphyllum hybrids.

The value of plant and flower shows for landscape professionals is they allow us all the opportunity to get really up close and personal with specimens, allowing attendees to glean knowledge for future landscape design projects and opening the doors to countless creative possibilities (Tip: I do recommend attending these shows with friends with the patience to permit enough time to study each leaf or flower obsessively).

I harbor hopes younger generations will become interested in flower and plant shows, including the more focused local events, planting the seeds to grow new horticulture communities online that might flourish into new careers and help continue the celebration of plants throughout the year, across the country, and throughout the world!

 

 

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Critters Gotta Crawl
The Arroyo Arts Collective (AAC) invites you to an exhibition of site-specific installations on the grounds of the La Tierra de la Culebra Art Park. “CRITTERS GOTTA CRAWL”, with an emphasis on local wildlife found in the North East L.A. area, has artists addressing issues of ecological (i.e. global warming, habitat destruction, water and air pollution) which impact the ongoing health and safety of wildlife; wildlife biology and migratory patterns; and how they co-exist in our Northeast LA neighborhoods.
When: Exhibition runs through June 22, 2018.
Where: 240 South Avenue 57, Highland Park, 90042

Korean Inspiration: A Night of Art & Exploration
A celebration and exploration of LACMA’s permanent collection of Korean art, one of the largest collections of Korean works in the United States. Bring your friends for an evening of gallery viewing, discussions, art making, Korean tea tastings, and a mini-fashion show. Discover the exquisite beauty of Korean ceramics, the spirituality of Korean Buddhist art, and the first solo show of a Korean American artist at LACMA, Unexpected Light: Works by Young-Il Ahn.
When: June 23, 7PM
Where: LACMA

Arroyo Seco Weekend 2018
Following a hugely successful, sold out inaugural year in 2017, this summer’s Arroyo Seco Weekend is back June 23rd and 24th, hosted under the shady oaks and parkland of Brookside​ next to the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium. The Arroyo Seco Weekend​ is a world class culture event featuring three stages of live music along with curated menus from LA’s celebrated restaurants and chefs plus craft beer & wine.
When: June 23rd, 12pm
Where: 1133 Rosemont Avenue, Pasadena, 91103

Barnsdall Fridays
Marking its 10th season and attracting sellout crowds, the renowned Barnsdall Friday Night Wine Tastings have become the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation’s signature fundraising event. With stunning views overlooking the City, Barnsdall Art Park welcomes Angelenos—21 years and older — to sip wine, picnic and watch the sunset for another not-to-be-missed season of wine tasting at this iconic cultural destination.
When: June 22, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Where: Barnsdall Art Park, Hollyhock House West Lawn, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90027

Signs of Los Angeles: Sign-Painting and the City
Join legendary sign-painter Doc Guthrie and artist Michael C. McMillen as they remember a time of when commercial signs were hand-painted and the city was like a large canvas. For more than twenty years, Doc Guthrie has taught sign painting at Los Angeles Trade Tech College (LATTC). Michael McMillen enrolled in Guthrie’s class in 2000 and has since mastered hand lettering in his fine art practice. Guthrie and McMillen, longtime Angelenos, have a witnessed the changes in our urban landscape, as hand-painting gave way to digital design and printing. Moderator Tucker Neel will facilitate a discussion between Guthrie and McMillen about history and practice of sign painting—and its remarkable resurgence in the present.
When: June 20, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1717 East 7th Street, Los Angeles, 90021

Congestion can be good, study reports: “Our findings suggest that a region’s economy is not significantly impacted by traffic congestion. In fact, the results even suggest a positive association between traffic congestion and economic productivity as well as jobs. Without traffic congestion, there would be less incentive for infill development, living in a location-efficient place, walking, biking, and transit use, ridesharing, innovations in urban freight, etcetera. And if your city doesn’t have any traffic congestion, there is something really wrong.”

L.A. Metro unveils plans to link San Fernando Valley with Westwood and eventually LAX: “The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX).”

The little-known behavioral scientist who transformed cities all over the world: “Ingrid and her husband took the first steps on a journey to create city spaces for the full range of human needs. The Danish couple’s ideas have since made life better in cities like New York, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Sydney, and London. Of course, many parts of many cities still seem optimized for buildings and cars. But the story of Ingrid and Jan is a model for what partnerships between behavioral scientists and designers can look like today.”

Beaver dams without beavers? Artificial logjams are a popular but controversial restoration tool: “From our 21st century vantage, it’s hard to conceive how profoundly beavers shaped the landscape. Indeed, North America might better be termed Beaverland. Surveying the Missouri River Basin in 1805, the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark encountered beaver dams “extending as far up those streams as [we] could discover them.” Scientists calculate that up to 250 million beaver ponds once puddled the continent—impounding enough water to submerge Washington, Oregon, and California.”

Retrofitting with Green Infrastructure: “Why retrofit cities and suburbs with green infrastructure? Re-inserting the landscape back into the built environment helps us strike a better balance with nature, boost neighborhood health, and solve stormwater management problems. In a session at the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) in Savannah, Georgia, a landscape architect, an urban designer, and a civil engineer offered fresh takes on why green infrastructure is so valuable.”

During my lunch breaks I’d set out to inspect the beautiful sidewalk paving designs lining the Historic Core of Downtown Los Angeles. All photos by Wendy Chan.

Our firm has recently been given the opportunity to submit a proposal for a new pedestrian linkage project. It’s an exciting design opportunity, one integrating art as an expression to link pedestrians with the history and culture of their community.

The pedestrian linkage project inspired research of various other examples where art was used as a way-finding and informational element. I looked at the Freedom Trail in Boston, a project which leads pedestrians through historically significant sties with a red-lined brick inlay on the sidewalk, alongside other historically significant districts in cities using pavement design to represents the local history and culture.


The terrazzo paving design in front of the Garfield Building mimics the bright marble sunburst on the underside of the entrance canopy. The sunburst might be a literal expression of the original building occupants, Sun Realty Company.


Beautiful colored ceramic tiles inlay by artist Frank Romero, commissioned by the CRA/LA to activate the sidewalk as part of the Broadway Pedestrian Amenities Project in 1984. The tiles are located along Broadway and 7th Street. The artist incorporated cultural patterns to represent the various ethnic groups that shopped on Broadway (e.g. geometric designs taken from Persian rugs), alongside the the building’s tenants at that time.


This ornate terrazzo art is located in front of Clifton’s Cafeteria and was done by artist Arthur D Pizzinat, Sr. in 1935. The designs have 12 medallions representing  areas of Los Angeles, including the city’s beaches, missions, oil farms, film industry, and the La Brea Tar Pits.


The terrazzo pavement entry leads visitors into the Baroque French Renaissance lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre.


My favorite sidewalk is located on the corner of 5th and Hill in front of the Art Deco Title Guarantee & Trust Building. I have fond childhood memories of Thrifty Drug Store; although it’s no longer a Thrifty store, I still appreciate the remnants of its history.

The beautiful pavement designs of Downtown Los Angeles act as a captivating threshold, linking passerby to the historical significance of the buildings. Although these individual designs aren’t directly linking together to form a cohesive narrative, they can be pieced together to offer us a glimpse of the history and architectural trends of the time, reminding us how sidewalks can act as a network of stories enhancing the pedestrian experience.

All photos: Jenni Zell

By developing a biodiversity report of my home (Zell_2018 Biodiversity Report_Part 2), I have made the following observations and conclusions.

1. Generalist species like the honey bee, squirrel and raven, thrive in my garden.
2. Plants from all the world’s continents except Antarctica, live in my garden.
3. My garden contains plants I selected and cultivated for one or more of the following reasons: beauty (to my eye), fragrance (to my nose), food production (for me, my family and neighbors), ease of maintenance, or to feed my curiosity.
4. My garden is anthropocentric.

What I have missed in cultivating a garden is how it supports life other than mine. The orchids did not evolve their exquisite fragrance for my olfactory pleasure, but to lure a pollinator likely thousands of miles away. I have been a good student of Aristotle and Linnaeus and can name, classify and sort living things, but I have learned and applied less of the lessons taught by teachers and philosophers of the Pre-Socratic and Romanic periods. It is time to discover the invisible (to me) interrelationships between non-human organisms. “Then approach nature, then try like the first human being to say what you see and experience and live and lose.” Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.

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