Pressed flower pictures, works of art at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Of all the outstanding exhibits at the Philadelphia Flower Show, take a careful look at the pressed flower pictures. These aren't the sort of thing your grandmother made. They're true works of art.

Courtesy of Denise Schreiber
This picture of a walk through a Japanese forest of bamboo and maples was created using pressed flowers. It won an award at a past Philadelphia Flower Show.
Courtesy of Denise Schreiber
Using pressed flowers as the medium, an artist created this picture of a dancing New Orleans couple. It won a second-place award at the 2010 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Like many people, I appreciate art in all of its forms. I, on the other hand, am artistically challenged. My stick people look like the missing link, with their knuckles dragging on the ground. I have trouble tracing an object onto paper.

The colors of Monet intrigue and pull me into another world. This is a world where I can visualize any and all things that I would like to create to make my heart happy. I do know that this will not happen so I will enjoy the beauty that I see.

Off to see a famous flower show

In a few days, I’m off to the Philadelphia Flower Show for the 22nd straight year. Open this year from March 6-13, it’s the oldest flower show in the United States, and visitors are guaranteed to come away with tons of ideas, plants, and other goodies.

I know that I'm going to smell the flowers that promise me that spring is right around the corner and the snow will fade away. I will visit the juried exhibits, works of plant art that have been babied and loved, some for many years. There will be landscape exhibits filled with the dreams of gardeners and unlimited resources, and floral arrangements created with the whimsy of the designers.

A special kind of floral art

But my favorite exhibit is the pressed flower pictures. Not the old-fashioned kind we used to see at our grandmother’s house with a heart made from pansies. These pictures are works of art with flattened leaves and flowers providing the oil colors of the masters.

Every year there is one that catches my eye because it is alive with movement and color. There was the couple dancing together in New Orleans with the man's eyes filled with love for his partner. The picture had movement, something difficult to translate from life into pressed flowers. It captured the spirit of the couple. It came in second, but I can’t forget the look of love. [See photo of this pciture at left.]

Last year, another second-place winner stole my heart. The picture resembled a photograph more than pressed flowers. The picture was a walk through a Japanese maple and bamboo forest in the autumn. [See photo above.] I could see myself walking through the falling leaves of the delicate-looking Japanese maples, hear the whispers of the wind, and the crunch of the leaves under my feet.

The artists who create these pictures are sometimes an entire group dedicated to this almost-lost art. They have elevated it from the pastime of genteel ladies to true works of art. In my very humble opinion, they deserve to be ranked as artists, not just garden groups with talent.

They have inspired me year after year to fall in love with these pictures. Maybe I’ll try my own hand at it someday.


Denise Schreiber is the Mrs. Know It All of “The Organic Gardeners” on KDKA Radio and “Ask the Expert” for Pennsylvania Gardener magazine.

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