Posts tagged Rose Parade

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 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 lined 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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For as long as I can remember, California employers and developers have marketed imagery of its beautiful landscapes and temperate weather to tourists and spectators alike. Let’s face it, I was sold. Maybe your story is like mine: your relatives moved to Los Angeles in search of a better life, compelled to chase the dream of the Golden State advertised on orange crate labels that were shipped all across the country. Today’s marketers still package Southern California through carefully crafted images of its alluring landscape, encouraging millions of new people to move to the land of fruit and honey over with the lure of money and fame.

An orange crate label of Titus Ranch. The ranch covered 550 acres in San Gabriel and San Marino, a citrus ranch that annually produced over 100 rail cars full of citrus in the early 1890’s.

An orange crate label of Titus Ranch. The ranch covered 550 acres in San Gabriel and San Marino, a citrus ranch that annually produced over 100 rail cars full of citrus in the early 1890’s. Image: Titus Ranch, 1906-1966 ephCL T-25, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

90a31a8d1c2ed82d26c3ab3a9cc0b543By the early 1900s, Henry Huntington had expanded the rail system westward by linking the electric car rail between cities in Southern California. With his wealth in hand, Huntington began a private collection of exotic desert plants in San Marino, California. The demand for agricultural goods was increasing at a rapid pace, with the population within the area tripled! Yet, San Gabriel Valley Citrus growers definitely required more labor. Growers begun manufacturing orange crate labels driven by an idealist, dreamy portrait of life on their California ranch.

Citrus growers were not only exceptional producers of healthy, fresh fruit, they also were unknowingly effective marketers of Southern California as an idyllic paradise: beautifully snowcapped mountains, rivers with clean blue water, exotic palm trees and colorful plants, portraits of happy children, rays of bright sunshine depicting exceptionally great weather, groves of citrus with their bright, healthy fruit were all represented in paintings printed into labels for orange crates. These images of temperate Southern California in the winter had a profound effect on the rest of the nation, promising a better life in “Eden”. Settlers came in droves to California, but were greeted by hard and monotonous work in packing houses or demandi ng hours picking fruit in the fields. Yet, these new arrivals were able to find better housing opportunities, a steady paycheck, and healthier environment for families to grow and achieve.

Packers at the ranch. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

Packers at the ranch. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

My great grandmother Katharine Martin Usrey, on the left, who rode the red line from Redondo Beach to Titus Ranch in San Gabriel, California where her father once managed the ranch. Today, I ride the Red Line to AHBE Landscape Architects. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

My great grandmother Katharine Martin Usrey, on the left, who rode the red line from Redondo Beach to Titus Ranch in San Gabriel, California where her father once managed the ranch. Today, I ride the Red Line to AHBE Landscape Architects. Photo: Katharine Rudnyk

Close up of a float depicting the iconic City of Beverly Hills signage in roses.

Close up of a float depicting the iconic City of Beverly Hills signage in roses.

Distinct ecologies of California continue to encourage more and more visitors to travel to beaches along the Pacific Ocean, head to the desert, or take a quick drive to the local snow-capped mountains. California Adventure within Disneyland opened February 8, 2001 in celebration of all things California. One of the most popular rides, Soarin’ Over California shows visitors an idyllic view of the state’s natural wonders. This easy-going, visually dramatic video ride in a simulated hang glider safely flies visitors over beaches, grove of sequoias, citrus ranches, and other Southern California landmarks along the way. Imagineers created fragrances to reflect each unique California ecology, such as salty air from a beach or a woodlands scent emitting from the sequoia grove. Perhaps this beautiful sensual interpretation of California had the same effect as the orange crate label, but with a more modern narrative?

One floriculture phenomenon driving millions of tourists annually to California is the Rose Parade. It has a rich history in San Gabriel Valley. In 1894, my great – grandfather drove a fancy carriage with horses decorated in roses. In 1951, the parade was brought to life to the millions of viewers who saw the parade in color on their television sets. Families, like my own, still gather annually to spend the night or arrive very early morning to enjoy the fruits of California’s labor, flowers. Thousands of leaves, flowers, and seeds are glued to a structure mounted on a moving vehicle. Prior to the event, guests turn roadways into parks, riding bikes and skateboards and gathering places to eat and be merry. Like a street beach!

The pastoral image created by the citrus ranchers inspired one homeowner – Dr. Lloyd Pittman and his wife Doris – to protect his 26 bougainvillea growing on palm trees that once surrounded a sizable citrus ranch in Glendora, California. His decision to nominate the site and have it listed in the National Register of Historic Places led to it becoming the driving imagery for a new upscale condominium development called Rancho del Bougainvillea. The bougainvillea were originally planted around 1907, and to this day are still each growing up mature Washingtonia robusta. Each vine is tied to the palm tree by way of a fire hose. It is still the only plant listed on the register.

Dr. Lloyd Pittman and his wife Doris in front of Bougainvillea (1952). Photo: Bougainvillea, National Register of Historic Places NPGallery

Dr. Lloyd Pittman and his wife Doris in front of Bougainvillea (1952). Photo: Bougainvillea, National Register of Historic Places NPGallery

How can dreamy imagery of a distinct California ecology increase the urban population of inner city Los Angeles when the ongoing perception of an “urban” landscape depicts crime, traffic, and homelessness? Landscape architects, landscape designers, illustrators, writers, and graphic artists have the tools to create compelling landscape images and narratives for developers. They connect people to landmarks, opportunities for better movement via transit, bicycles, and other means. And best of all, Californian creatives can depict new horticulturally relevant experiences for the next generation of Californians to enjoy for years to come.

Resources:
http://www.citrusroots.com/oldsite/la-county-packinghouses.html
http://www.huntington.org/
http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/landslide/2007/bougainvillea/history.html
https://www.tournamentofroses.com/history/timeline
http://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/AssetDetail?assetID=5ffefba3-f06c-4cff-b4e5-021f8bdf3c42