Temple Ambler fueled by Star Power at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show

Temple University Ambler will present “Star Power: Casts of Light that Stir and Spellbind" at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show

Take a walk during the moments not that long after sunset, that blue-tinged, shadowed twilight time when the eye can’t distinguish between the real and the imaginary. Now wake with the world just after sunrise as the trees, flowers and plants positively glow in the ethereal golden light.

Since the earliest days of cinema, filmmakers have been using the light of the sun to set mood, create a sense of place and stir emotions in their audiences.

Temple University Ambler’s 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit is a walk through evocative, contrasting shades, presenting the natural world bathed in the light of the sun before and after sunrise and sunset.

“Star Power: Casts of Light that Stir and Spellbind,” presented by the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, illustrates why filmmakers choose to shoot outdoors at two specific times of day — the blue hour, about an hour prior to sunrise and after sunset and the magic hour, about an hour after sunrise and prior to sunset, said Rob Kuper, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture.

“Our exhibit captures the experiences presented during both of these time periods through a combination of beauty, action and illusions,” said Kuper, who is coordinating Temple’s 2015 Flower Show exhibit with Adjunct Assistant Professor Michael LoFurno and Horticulture Supervisor Anne Brennan. “The sun, as the closet star to Earth, has a great deal of power over our lives — it makes plants grow, it drives the hydrologic cycle, it stirs animals to action. The idea is to explore sunlight and how it relates to the movies while also examining how sunlight and the landscape affect plants, people and places.”

Presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show — with its “Lights, Camera, Bloom!” theme — will run from Saturday, February 28 through Sunday, March 8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch streets.

Star Power takes its inspiration from a variety of film artists and ideas — both past and present — from the earliest experiments in moving pictures by Thomas Edison and his assistant, W. L. Dickson, to the Lumière brothers’ theater-filling, hand-cranked adventures and the glass-roofed Lubinville Factory in Philadelphia, which in its heyday produced a film a day.

Thirteen 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.

“The students have produced a lot of good, quality work,” Kuper said. “One of the things we try to focus on in our exhibits is using materials and methods that are practical and can be replicated in someone’s home garden — we want visitors to create movie magic at home.”

In Star Power, the Blue Hour environment will be comprised of an enclosed space “where we can create diffused light,” said Kuper. The plant palette is being selected to be easily visible in diffused light, he added. Each environment may also include a “living world” of plants and animal habitats indicative of the types of creatures that would be active during these times of day, such as a bat house in the Blue Hour and bee habitats in the Magic Hour.

“For the Magic Hour we’ve sought out plants that are good in low-angled light,” Kuper said. “The Magic Hour is all about warm colors — it makes colors look fantastic. It glamorizes the landscape.”

Water elements will also reflect the different environments — a quiet pond setting in the Blue Hour and fountains that dance in the light during the Magic Hour. And rising above it all is the 20-foot-tall “Golden Spire” that glows during the Magic Hour.

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

The 2015 exhibit continues a long tradition in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture of interdisciplinary and hands-on learning experiences. In the Ambler Campus Greenhouse, horticulture staff  have been working since August to help select the plant palette for the exhibit and ensure the plants and trees are ready for the big show.

“One thing that Temple always tries to do is use plants that are appropriate for people to use in their own Philadelphia-area gardens,” said Brennan.

Temple University Ambler remains one of only a handful of exhibitors that forces its own plants for their exhibits. Much of the plant material will return to campus after the Flower Show to find a home in the Ambler Arboretum, said staff horticulturist Kathryn Reber, who has worked closely with Brennan and fellow staff horticulturist Merrill Miller to develop a unique forcing schedule for each of the dozens of different plant species that make up the 2015 exhibit.

“Each year we try to hone our forcing techniques. With only two growing areas — our greenhouse and hoop house — we get creative with finding or making additional temperature zones and use every resource available to us to keep our crops on schedule,” she said. “Almost every temperate plant genetically needs to have a period of cold so that it knows to grow again. Specific plants have specific needs and it changes from cultivar to cultivar. The Cercis Canadensis that we’re growing this year won’t necessarily behave like the redbud that we grew last year.”

With the gray winter, “we’ve been using a lot more lights in the greenhouse this year,” Reber said.

“Light can be a big factor in how things emerge and their color as they emerge,” she said. “This year has been all about less heat and more light and I think that’s really helping. That combination is working very well for us.”

Temple University Ambler is one of only a handful of exhibitors that forces its own plants for their exhibits.

“Each year we try to hone our forcing techniques. With only two growing areas — our greenhouse and hoop house — we get creative with finding or making additional temperature zones and use every resource available to us to keep our crops on schedule,” said staff horticulturist Kathryn Reber, who has worked closely with Brennan and fellow staff horticulturist Merrill Miller to develop a unique forcing schedule for each of the dozens of different plant species that make up the 2015 exhibit. “As in the past few years, we forced many of our trees and shrubs in plastic humidity tents constructed inside the greenhouse — the concentrated heat and humidity helps them to break bud a little faster than they would otherwise. We keep meticulous records of the conditions and progress of each of our crops so we can try to improve upon our forcing schedules from year to year.”

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

The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest indoor event of its kind in North America, welcoming more than 300,000 visitors a year.

Temple University Ambler has a long and illustrious history with the Flower Show, taking home “Best in Show” awards in 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012 in addition prestigious honors from the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania in 2004 and 2011, the Horticultural Society in 2006 and the Alfred M. Campbell Memorial Trophy in 2013. In 2014, Temple University Ambler was awarded a Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, the Chicago Horticultural Society Flower Show Medal and a PHS Special Achievement Award.

Building upon a rich history of environmental teaching that dates back more than a century, Temple University Ambler is home to the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture. The degree programs are a unique blend of disciplines, providing students with the design and plant background necessary to succeed in any aspect of the Green Industry.

The Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture at Temple University Ambler, part of the School of Environmental Design in Temple’s College of Liberal Arts, is committed to excellence in ecologically based education. The department’s goal is to train leaders in the art and science of horticulture (A.S., B.S., and certificate programs) and landscape architecture (MLArch and B.S. programs). The programs provide students with knowledge and understanding of the environment so that they can improve the quality of our urban, suburban, and rural communities.

For more information on the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture programs at Temple University Ambler, visit www.temple.edu/ambler/la-hort. For more information about the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show, visit www.theflowershow.com.