Blooms & Bamboo at Longwood Gardens

Visiting Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA is always a pleasure and one I try to do several times a year. Fortunately for me, it is close by. I made a day trip which included a visit to Terrain, a destination nursery/garden center that is worth a trip on its own. For other posts on Longwood, go to- Longwood’s Summer of Spectacle and Christmas at Longwood.

I had never been to the fall Mum display and last week made the hour and a half journey to take it all in, and was blown away by the artful mums and stunning bamboo constructions. Blooms & Bamboo: Chrysanthemum and Ikebana Sogetsu Artistry is the official title, and features masterworks of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, and bonsai. For more information on the behind the scenes, go to The Making of Blooms & Bamboo.

Bamboo archway

The bamboo structures were massive


Created by Headmaster of Sogetsu, Iemoto Akane Tehsigahara, the exhibit features two large-scale displays of bamboo and natural elements showcased in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory. Featuring 635 rods of bamboo manipulated into spiraling, twisting, and intertwining natural works of art that were over 15 feet high, these works of art towered almost to the roof of the conservatory.

If the bamboo exhibits weren’t enough, thousands of blooming chrysanthemums trained into imaginative forms and shapes by Longwood’s own horticulture masters were on display.


My daughter and I posing in front of the massive single chrysanthemum plant that features over 1000 blooms

The first thing you see entering the main conservatory is the massive Chrysanthemum plant that was started in the Longwood’s greenhouse 17 months ago. Beginning more than a year in advance, thousands of chrysanthemums are nurtured and trained meticulously into giant spheres, spirals, columns of cascading flowers, and pagodas. To appreciate the many different types of mums, go to Chrysanthemums: A Class of Their Own. 

Each bloom is supported and tied in
Cross section of the sphere showing how one mum plant is trained
Masses of unusual mums were placed out in the conservatory
Spider mums
Labeled types of mums
Mum pagoda
Mum fan
Smaller mum sphere from one plant
Football mums line the conservatory passages
Mum growing up a wall
Cascading mums draped the conservatory columns
I loved the lavender colored corner of the conservatory
A free form mum

Salvia leucantha, Mexican Bush Sage, complemented the mums
Cuphea ‘Candy Corn’
Cuphea ‘Candy Corn’ set off the yellow orange corner of the Conservatory
Sabra Spike Sage was a great autumnal color


The Japanese art of flower arrangement, Ikebana, was showcased in the Sogetsu school which is one of the styles of Ikebana. The Sogetsu School focuses more on free expression and is based on the belief that Ikebana can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, by anyone. From the number of people who were exclaiming over them, there were plenty of admirers. For more information of Longwood’s Ikebana, go to Art For Anyone: Sogetsu Ikebana.


Numerous examples of Bonsai featuring miniaturized mums were my favorite. Bonsai is the Japanese art form of cultivating small trees or plants that mimic the shape of scale of full size trees. Through different techniques, such as wiring, shaping, and root pruning, these are amazingly like their full size plants. For more information on these, go to Character Development of a Bonsai.

Pomegranate tree
Different mum bonsai

This mum was growing over a small boulder

You can still see the exhibit now until November 17 and you can buy your tickets at Longwood Gardens.

MANTS Show – The Mid-Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show- Part 1

Beautiful arrangement in a wicker chair displaying Foxborough Nursery's plant wares
Beautiful arrangement in a wicker chair displaying Foxborough Nursery’s plant wares

Everything New (and Old!) in the Gardening World

Baltimore Convention Center 2005
Baltimore Convention Center 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year right after New Year’s parties have wound down and the confetti is a recent memory, I make my annual pilgrimage to the MANTS Show (Mid-Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show) at the Baltimore Convention Center. I look forward with anticipation to see old friends, new ideas or old re-packaged ones, and buy some new exciting products. And the best part is the event is in my backyard!  The biggest show of its kind on the East Coast, with almost 1000 exhibitors taking up the maximum available space on one level at the Baltimore Convention Center, the MANTS show has exhibitors from all over the country and the world. Starting in Williamsburg Va in 1971 with 64 exhibitors, and moving to Hunt Valley, MD, in the 70’s, and finally finding a home at the convention center in Baltimore, it has become known as ‘The Masterpiece of Trade Shows’.

Sign exhibit at
Sign exhibit at

A Plan is Essential!!!

With so many exhibitors and so much ground to cover, I decided to start early on Wednesday morning for the opening and attend for the full three days. In earlier years, I attempted to see everything in one long marathon day, but was exhausted! I go with a plan, looking at the exhibitor list beforehand, to see which exhibits I can’t miss, and adding a few new ones that I want to try. Once you get into the hall, the mass of exhibits can be overwhelming, so you must have a plan of attack.

Aquatic plants in floating rings, Goji berry plants at Spring Meadow Nursery, a miniature garden at Meehans Miniatures
Aquatic plants in floating rings, Goji berry plants at Spring Meadow Nursery, a miniature garden at Meehans Miniatures

HERShovel by Green Heron Tools

A new vendor that I wanted to look at was Green Heron Tools that was billed as “High quality farm and garden tools for women”.  I was very skeptical because I have seen a lot of boondoggle tools made for women that were laughable – not pink, but flimsy and not sturdy enough to withstand abuse. But once I went up to the booth and picked up their custom designed shovel, I knew I had to have it! The company is run by a mother/ daughter team, and their team designed and tested the shovels themselves, and call it the HERSh0vel. Started in 2008 in nearby Pennsylvania, Green Heron Tools, has been featured in Organic Gardening Magazine at The shovel/spade is engineered to maximize the power and the lower center of gravity of a women’s body and has a great hand feel. I was hooked.

Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger showing off their HERShovel at MANTS
Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger showing off their HERShovel at MANTS

Designed as a shovel – spade hybrid, it is light weight and has a large convenient digging handle and comes in 3 sizes.  I am 5’3″ tall and the middle size was perfect for me. The price was $57, which I thought was reasonable for a well made tool. Most of the professional shovels that I have used tend to be very heavy, and the light weight of this shovel was an eye opener.  The company sells other products from different companies made for women, but the shovel is one that they designed themselves. They are working on a tiller made just for women slated to come out in 2014 and I am anxious to see that.  My tiller is much too large and cumbersome for me to handle, and I would love to have something more manageable.

Green Heron
Green Heron – One of the few birds that uses tools!


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Since I sell a lot of miniature/fairy gardens in the spring, I was happy to see several vendors carrying a good variety of tiny furniture and other products for fairy gardens. It seems like the gardening product world is always a couple of years behind the trends that I see happening in my business, but it looks like they caught up this time.  I have had to order online in the past for these items but it looks like they are mainstream now.

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A display of bonsai at Meehans Miniatures

Stay tuned for part 2, (Goji Berries and my incredible haul at the end!!!)