Since Mother Nature doused the eastern seaboard with snow, those anxious to see the first snowdrops and crocus will find them buried under 6 inches of snow. There is relief for those starving for the scents and sights of spring: the Philadelphia Flower Show. This week Scott Arboretum staff, volunteers, and members can be found among the 5,000 volunteers helping to support this event organized by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
In the imaginative gardens inspired by this year’s theme “Belle Italia,” visitors can see crocus, azaleas, tulips, ornamental cherries, and many other spring flowering plants. To create these Italian escapes designers use more than just great plants. Typical of many Italian gardens, a variety of statuary has been used to create a sense of place. Most of the show features the traditional stone statuary of male and female characters, but there are some pieces outside of the norm.
Winner of the Mayor’s Trophy, Stoney Bank Nurseries partnered with artist Greg Leavitt to create a set of unique, horticulture-inspired gates and statuary. These pieces feature intricately detailed rose blooms and leaves. Their bronze tones provide a different character to the exhibit titled “Lago Maggione, Le Isole Borromee, and the Island Gardens of Northern Italy” in contrast to the white-gray tones of the other statuary.
Greg Leavitt’s pieces are a great addition to any garden as they often mimic what gardeners appreciate about nature. Leavitt’s work can be seen at the Scott Arboretum in the Dean Bond Rose Garden, where he created two gates. One entrance features the garden in winter and the other is the garden in summer. See if you can identify the difference. He has also created original pieces for public horticulture institutions such as Mt. Cuba Center and Longwood Gardens.
All of Leavitt’s pieces are created by hand using traditional blacksmithing techniques. He does not contract any portion of his work out. He works with is daughter, Camilla, and wife, Tiana, at their studio in Bucks County to craft these masterpieces.
I encourage you to visit the Philadelphia Flower Show to kick the winter blues with spring blooms and an entertaining display of garden statuary.