Brilliant! The new Hamilton Horticourt

Every year the best and most compelling section of the Philadelphia Flower Show seems to me to be the simplest one. The Horticourt is where individual gardeners enter their perfectly grown plants—or so they hope—to be judged by some of the country’s best horticulturists. Whatever the blue, red or white ribbons they earn from the judges, or not, it’s a joy to see these beautiful and frequently usual tours de force of gardening. I find myself spending at least a couple of hours here and frequently return when I need a break from the extravagance and sensory overload of the rest of the show.

This year the Horticourt has undergone a much-needed renovation and thoughtful redesign, even being renamed the PHS Hamiltion Horticourt in honor of its benefactor and frequent plant competitor, Mrs. M. V. Samuel Hamilton. That mysterious Mrs. M. V. Samuel Hamilton. Those perennial boxwood tubes! Amazing. How does the woman do it? She’s on so many ribbons. So many. The judges might know her, but as an annual visitor I’ve always wondered. Thank you, though, Mrs. Hamilton! Anyway… The aisles are wider and seem to be laid out more efficiently. I didn’t seem to be bumping into quite as many clumps of fellow admirers straining to get closer looks. Or embarrassingly falling over other admirers forced to bow and lean. New display steps and stands presented the smaller plants for easier close-up inspection. And the light, always such a major problem at the Flower Show in this industrial and generic convention space without the slightest hint of any natural light, was very improved. And it’s all attractive to boot! I’m already looking forward to next year.


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Left Narcissus ‘Apricot Whirl’ from Walter Fisher; Right Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ from J. R. Cruise.

Narcissus ‘Falconet’ from William Porter Durham.


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A cristate Pachypodium lamerei from Lynn Cook and Troy Ray.

Ascocentrum christensonianum from Cesario Gene Tobia.

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Left, Renanthera ‘Nancy” from Bayard Saraduke; Right, LC Gold Digger ‘Orchid Jungle’ from Ty Tripplet.

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Left Cymbidimum ‘Clarisse Austin’ from Carol Peters; Right Cattelya mossii ‘Willowbrook’ from Bayard Saraduke.


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A bulb garden (with red ribbon) and Arisaema fargesii, both entries from that mysterious and perennial diva of the Flower Show, Mrs. M. V. Hamilton.


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Left, Ficus benjamina ’Too Little’ from Jolene Bray; Right, Justicia brandegeeana from Lynn Cook and Troy Ray.

Alocasia ’Tigrina Superba’ again from Mrs. M. V. Hamilton.

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Left, Ledebouria socialis from Bob Alright; Right, the strangely flowered Bulbophyllum phaelenopsis from Lynn Cook and Troy Ray which was amusingly hung from a rolling hotel luggage rack.