It is one of the most iconic images from the turbulent ‘60s era of the United States.
As demonstrators protested against the War in Vietnam in a “March on the Pentagon” in October 1967, they were confronted by armed soldiers from the 503rd Military Police Battalion. Rather than meet the soldiers with violence, at least one protestor stepped toward them, and placed a flower in a rifle barrel.
“Flower Power” won the day.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is embracing “Flower Power” as the theme for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show. During the week-long event, which welcomes hundreds of thousands to the region each year, Temple University will invite visitors to “get hip to living more responsibly,” said Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Rob Kuper, who is coordinating Temple’s 2019 Flower Show exhibit with Adjunct Assistant Professor Michael LoFurno and Greenhouse Horticulturist Benjamin Snyder.
Temple’s exhibit, Hip Haven: Hangin’ Loose at a Home Refuge, will recognize the stark contrast between the forces that were, and continue, to shape the nation, said Kuper. The exhibit will incorporate the harsh, unyielding features of “The Machine” and the free-flowing, free-thinking ideals of the hippie counter-culture in “The Haven.”
“We’re showing those contrasts through the use of materials and plants. There are small things, however, that unify the exhibit — colors and shapes, for example,” he said. “Hip Haven questions contemporary material and social norms. We hope to turn visitors on to the wonders of nature, community, individual freedom and peace and demonstrate how to create a home refuge that is conscious of the present and the future.”
As part of the Flower Show’s Gardener’s Hub, all of the educational exhibits were asked to incorporate examples of techniques that visitors could do at home, according to LoFurno.
“Each year, we always work toward sharing concepts that people can take and use in their own home environments. Some of our educational themes this year include using cold frames to extend the harvest season,” he said. “People have become so distant from their food sources they may not really even think about berries growing on bushes and nuts growing in trees anymore; the food forage area of the Haven harkens back to when food self-sufficiency was common. With the reflective surfaces in the Machine, we’re also demonstrating what needs to happen to prevent bird/window strikes.”
Kuper said that while Hip Haven draws inspiration from the Flower Power movement of the 60s “it does not truly focus on a particular time period.”
“In the 1960s and 70s you saw some of the first calls to environmental action and some positive changes were made. One of the primary goals of the exhibit is to help people become more sensitive to their environment — the call to action today, if anything, is even more urgently necessary,” he said. “Humanity is at a critical point; as a people, as a species, as a country, we have got to change. It is so easy to just continue what you are doing — it’s comfortable, it’s convenient but it is also unsustainable not just in the long term but in the near term.
Kuper said his hope is that “visitors will begin to think more about how we interact and impact our environment, take some or all of the ideas we are presenting, and proactively incorporate them into their lives immediately.”
“Stop drinking bottled water. Plant more native, non-invasive plants. Use more reclaimed, re-purposed materials and above all, find ways to stop burning fossil fuels,” he said. “Some changes are simple to say and understand, but difficult to perform, but they are changes that absolutely have to happen now. The Machine that is our government, as well as science, will do little to stop climate change, if at all. It’s up to us.”
Entering the exhibit, LoFurno said, visitors will be met with the harsh landscape of the Machine — a collection of sharp angles, reflective surfaces, metal and plants with less than inviting edges and spikes. Halfway through the exhibit, the Machine begins to give way to the fragrant flowing flowers and bright colors of the Haven, which promotes “living in harmony within the environment,” incorporating a campfire, spring, food forage area, cold frames and the Roost, the largest element of the exhibit standing 16 feet high.
“The Roost is inspired by animal shelters; in this case, naturally, we took inspiration from an owl’s roost. Unlike many of the exhibits at the Flower Show, Temple’s exhibit gives people an opportunity to get up close to the concepts we’re seeking to convey,” LoFurno said. “We want people to look at the plants, smell the flowers, touch the water. We want them to make a connection with the exhibit that might provide them with the impetus to explore further, learn more and apply the ecological practices we’re showcasing.”
This is the second year students and faculty have been able to create their Flower Show exhibit within the large dedicated design-build studio space in Bright Hall at the Temple Ambler campus.
“It makes coordinating the work that needs to go into completing the exhibit much more convenient. In years past, sometimes teams weren’t sure what other teams were working on at any given time,” said Kuper. “Now, for the most part, we’re all together and able to collaborate on all aspects of the exhibit. It can only improve the teaching experience while also providing the program with greater visibility and a stronger identity and connection with the campus community.”
Landscape Architecture junior Michelle Armour said the “build” experience within the design-build studio “has been extremely beneficial to me.”
“The skills we are using is allowing us to bring ideas that we designed and make them a reality — it’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time but it is an excellent learning experience. Working on the Roost, I was really inspired by the 60s counter-culture and their unconventional approach to design,” she said. “While they were rebelling against the status quo, they were also very resourceful in sourcing and repurposing materials. I hope visitors are inspired to be creative and feel free to be playful in designing their own gardens and living spaces — you need spaces where you can simply recharge and get away, at least for a little while, from all of the things that demand our attention every day.”
Fellow landscape architecture junior Hayley Murphy is working on the Machine side of the exhibit. The area, with all of its mirrored surfaces, she said, “is reflective of how we are bombarded with information and data every day, all of the time, from all directions.”
“I wanted to explore what the ‘Machine’ means and what our role is within it. I think one of the greatest things about this project is we are essentially given a blank slate and, working collaboratively as a team, we’re able to create something and share these ideas and concepts on one of the largest stages in our profession,” she said. “We are taking inspiration from the past to convey important messages that are just as relevant today. I hope our visitors think that the construction and the plants are beautiful. The plants are spectacular and wonderfully diverse.”
The 2019 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 and students have been working for months to help select the plant palette for the exhibit and ensure the plants and trees are ready for the big show. Temple University Ambler is one of only a handful of exhibitors that forces its own plants for their exhibits.
“With the clear contrasts between the Machine side of the exhibit and the Haven, it really opened up the plant palette for us — this year it was anything goes. Overall, we are using 107 different species and 1,603 individual plants,” said Snyder. “We have two growing environments, so we move plants back and forth to control their growth rate. I hope that visitors are able to take away some of the ideas they see in the exhibit — sustainable plant practices — and use them for their own landscapes.”
The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest indoor event of its kind in North America, welcoming more than 250,000 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 (the final year that Best in Show awards were presented in the Academic Educational category) 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 and 2015.
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. In 2015, Temple’s exhibit was awarded a Silver Medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; and the American Horticultural Society Environmental Award. 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.
In 2016, “After the Blast: Recollecting Roots and Resources at Hopewell Furnace,” was presented with a unique honor, the National Park System Director’s Award, awarded to the exhibit with the best interpretation of a national park in the 2016 Flower Show — only one Director’s Award was given. The exhibit was also awarded a Gold Medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a PHS Gold Medal Plant Award, a Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nurseryman’s Association Trophy, the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America Award and a PHS Sustainability Award.
Temple's 2017 Flower Show Exhibit, Nieuwpolders: Regenerating the Dutch Custom of Land Recovery, was recognized with a PHS Gold Medal, awarded to a major exhibit that receives 95 or more points out of 100 in the criteria of design, horticulture, plantsmanship and educational value; and the Bulkley Medal of the Garden Club of America; awarded to a special exhibit in the fields of horticulture, botany or conservation — the exhibit must be one of exceptional educational merit that increases the knowledge and awareness of the viewing public. Only one Bulkley Medal is given out at the Flower Show each year. The exhibit also received a Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nurseryman’s Association Trophy, and a PHS Sustainability Award, presented to the educational major exhibit demonstrating the best use of sustainable gardening practices to the public.
In 2018, “Within Reach: Unlocking the Legacy of our Hidden River” was recognized with a PHS Silver Medal; the Chicago Horticultural Society Flower Show Medal, presented to an Educational exhibit showing outstanding horticultural skill and knowledge in a nationally recognized flower show — only one Chicago Medal is presented at the Philadelphia Flower Show; and a Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania.
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 Division of Architecture and Environmental Design in the Tyler School of Art, 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 tyler.temple.edu/programs/landscape-architecture-horticulture. For more information about the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show, visit theflowershow.com.