Star Power wins major awards at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show

Temple University Ambler won five major awards at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Months of hard work by Temple University Ambler students, faculty and staff paid off with five special honors for Temple’s 2015 Flower Show Exhibit, Star Power: Casts of Light that Stir and Spellbind.

Star Power was awarded a Silver Medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; the American Horticultural Society Environmental Award, given for the “best demonstration of skillful design that incorporates environmental stewardship in the garden;” and the Alfred M. Campbell Memorial Trophy, awarded to “the educational major exhibit that demonstrates the most successful use of a variety of plants in a unique fashion.”

The exhibit also received a Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania in the “creativity” category; and a PHS Special Achievement Award.

Star Power: Casts of Light that Stir and Spellbind takes visitors on a journey through the hours before and after sunrise and sunset — blue hour and magic hour. In keeping the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s cinematic theme for 2015, the exhibit illustrates why filmmakers choose to shoot outdoors during these contrasting times of day.

“Our exhibits are completely collaborative efforts. Our students are given a schematic design and they work together to make the exhibit their own. I think one thing about our exhibits each year is that they are always unique — advancing ideas with different construction and plant materials,” said Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Rob Kuper, who with Adjunct Assistant Professor Michael LoFurno, Horticulturist Kathryn Reber and Horticulture Supervisor Anne Brennan, coordinated the 2015 exhibit.

Being honored for their creativity — presenting the different times of day through light, shadow, plant selection and construction while also taking inspiration from film artists and ideas both past and present — is particularly gratifying, Kuper said.

“While this year’s Flower Show was movie themed, we didn’t want to simply translate a movie with our exhibit,” he said. “We wanted to take a different route and I think our students were successful in communicating something unique among the exhibitors.”

Presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show continues through Sunday, March 8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch streets.

Students have spent months developing Star Power’s distinct blue hour and magic hour environments that make up the 34-foot by 22-foot exhibit, which is located right at the heart of the Convention Center floor.

“Thanks to our location on the show floor very near the Flower Show central features, visitors essentially walk up the main path of the show and right into the Blue Hour,” said LoFurno. “Visitors are also able to see the 20-foot-tall Golden Spire in the Magic Hour as soon as they walk onto the show floor.”

Reber said by its nature the Flower Show lends itself to extraordinary combinations of plants that wouldn’t be found in nature. Being honored with the Alfred M. Campbell Trophy, she said, “is a wonderful cap to the months of working with the plants that our staff and horticulture students were engaged in to get them ready for the show.”  

Star Power is comprised of more than 1,500 plants from about 60 species, she said, all forced in the Ambler Campus Greenhouse and Hoop House facilities.

“Our students are learning about the plants and forcing techniques throughout this process. For the students in the junior (landscape architecture) studio, they are seeing all of their planning and construction come together — so many different aspects of this project have to work together seamlessly. Suddenly, there it is, at the Flower Show be tens of the thousands of visitors. It’s a tremendous experience.”

Sharing what they’ve learned with the public is an important part of the entire process, according to Landscape Architecture Junior Albert Park, who was team leader for the exhibit’s path and water elements.

“One of our goals is to present ideas, concepts and materials that visitors could then bring home to their own gardens,” he said. “Everything that we are using is sustainable and recyclable.”

Kuper said a design-build project of this type leads to “an advancement in thinking” for students when they approach projects in the future.

“They are realizing ideas — taking something in their head, putting it on paper, and then actually building it. Students often design in bubbles separate from the work around them, but this experience pushes them to work together and help one another to achieve a common vision,” he said. “They are resolving problems that crop up and finding solutions that are functional and structurally sound.”

The students that participate in the Flower Show each year, Kuper said, “become part of something bigger.”

“They are part of Temple’s history and the Flower Show’s history,” he said. “They take pride in their work as landscape architects and horticulturists and they realize that what they are learning in the classroom is meaningful when they are able to see and compare their work to the work of other exhibitors.”

For more information about “Star Power: Casts of Light that Stir and Spellbind,” contact 267-468-8108 or

For more information on the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture programs at Temple University Ambler, visit For more information about the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show, visit