Those that spent the $20 on admission to the 2005 Philadelphia Flower Show were party to a host of different competitions and awards, one of which Temple University’s Ambler campus skillfully claimed as their own.
For the ninth year since 1987, the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture students and Landscape Arboretum of Temple University won a Best of Show award, this year in the Academic Educational category. Their exhibit, “Progressive Women in Horticulture: A Driving Force in Philadelphia – 1904 to 1924” was chosen to go along with the overall theme of this year’s flower show: “America the Beautiful.”
“We thought that looking back into how these people have made Philadelphia more beautiful through civic planting and training these young women to go into this line of work would be a nice bit,” said Jennifer Carey, a 2003 Temple Ambler alumna who handled most of the research for this exhibit. “The women’s achievements are always downplayed.”
The 2005 exhibit highlighted the efforts of the founders of the Garden Club of Philadelphia, the Garden Club of America, the Woman’s Farm and Garden Association, and the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women, which would later become Temple University Ambler.
“I was expecting to go and, maybe naively, and find you know, some information written on these women that we could, you know, put together fairly easily but what surprised me was there wasn’t anything much written about these women,” Carey said.
“I think that’s probably what surprised me most, was that there wasn’t more written about these amazing women,” she said.
Temple’s exhibit faced stiff competition this year. The Philadelphia Flower Show, which has been an annual event since 1827, draws entrants from all over the tri-state area and beyond.
Judging took place on Saturday, March 5. The eight judges gave Temple’s exhibit 100 out of a possible 100 points, basing their decision upon a long list of criteria.
“We were first place, by far,” said Sue Pringle, a senior horticulture major and the chair of Temple’s committee for the show. “I talked to one of the judges Saturday night and she said that our display was perfection.”
Putting together the exhibit was not as easy as some might think.
Pringle has been involved with the competition for 12 years, both through Temple and through her own local garden clubs.
“It is constant vigilance to make sure the plants are in good shape.” said Pringle. “All of us have to take really good care of the plants. We have to check for pests and fertilize and bring it into warmer or cooler houses depending on the temperature,” she said. “That’s why everything is so gorgeously in bloom during the show. We move plants constantly.”
Individuals involved with the show do this in addition to their regular course work.
“They’re not doing this for personal glory,” said Pringle. “They’re doing this to make a beautiful display.”
The conditions of the flower show are not preferable for growing, so after the show, many of the plants are no longer usable. The plants that are usable are either planted at Temple Ambler or sold to benefit Temple’s Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs.
In September of this year, plans and discussions will begin for next year’s show.
“I think that if I take away anything from this, it’s how wonderful Temple Ambler really is,” said Pringle. “I didn’t know anything about the founders of our school and I’ve been here for three and a half years.”
Tulin Ozturk can be reached at email@example.com.