The exhibit has been put together by an interdisciplinary group of UD
students and faculty members. Some are working on the exhibit as part
of a Design Process Practicum class taught by Bruck, others as members
of the Design and Articulture (DART) student organization, and still
others through the new landscape architecture major.
Bruck said that one of the messages of this year’s exhibit is that all plants are welcome.
“We’ve cultivated some common 'weeds' to put up on the roof to show
the variety of plants that are part of the urban environment. We call
them weeds - it's a human construct. Many plants we consider weeds are a
beneficial part of the environment. If it can grow in a crack in the
sidewalk in the city, it’s a pretty tough nugget, and we need to rethink
how we label it,” said Bruck.
Anna Wik, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil
Sciences, said that the roof will be planted with “things that are
typically thought of as weeds mixed in with bulbs to give it this wild
look. They’re mostly weedy grasses and we will be using some
strawberries. Weeds are part of the urban environment and something that
we have to know about.”
Students in the Design Process Practicum class last year spent the first part of the class helping build the exhibit for 2016 and then spent the second portion of the class developing ideas that eventually became the design for this year’s flower show.
Austin Virdin, a senior in CANR, was part of the group whose design
was chosen to represent UD this year and he said that it has been a
rewarding experience watching the design come to life.
He also said that having the assistance of Hansen has been a huge help.
“We’ve been able to use pieces from past shows the theatre department
has put on that have become the walls of the exhibit and a lot of the
materials have been re-used from those shows, she’s been a great help. I
know we would not have been able to have this year’s exhibit be as
large of a structure if she wasn't helping with the build,” said Virdin.
Virdin said that the interdisciplinary aspect of the class is beneficial and helped to inform the design.
“In my group that proposed this design concept, I worked with a
psychology major and a computer science major, coming from different
backgrounds and perspectives really makes the class more engaging in my
opinion. I get a lot more out of the design process when there’s people
who think and work differently than I do,” said Virdin.
Tess Strayer, senior in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment
and president of DART, said she is hoping that visitors to the exhibit
take its green infrastructure messaging home with them.
“I think it’s something we can incorporate into our lives on a daily
basis. Green roofs aren’t hard and we just installed pervious paving at
my home for my driveway. It’s little things that you can do around your
house to make your home more sustainable, your life more ecofriendly,”
Wik has been working on the flower show for the first time in
different capacities and has been involved in the bulb forcing — along
with students Carin Prechtl and Serena Wingel, both juniors in CANR –
and members of the Fischer Greenhouse staff, including Bill Bartz,
greenhouse manager, and Rodney Dempsey, horticulture greenhouse
Wik said that they are using commonly forced bulbs in the exhibit,
such as hyacinths, tulips and daffodils, as well as some less often used
bulbs like allium and camassia, and that they decided to select plants
that are ornamental but also provide ecosystem services, specifically
those that would do well in a rain garden environments.
Landscape architecture studio
The landscape architecture studio is loosely modeled off of renowned
landscape designer Piet Oudolf's studio interior. Oudolf recently
finalized a meadow design for the Delaware Botanic Gardens (DBG) at
Pepper Creek near Dagsboro, Delaware.
“We wanted a Dutch aesthetic, and then we realized we might be able
to showcase some of his recent local work, as well,” said Bruck.
Bruck reached out to Rodney Robinson, a UD alumnus and DBG board
member who is with Robinson Anderson Summers Inc. (RAS), to ask if it
would be possible to highlight the new project by including it as a prop
in the architect studio.
Sheryl Swed, the executive director of the DBG, responded to the
request and said, “The opportunity to partner with Jules and talented
students to highlight the exceptional master plan that RAS has just
completed, to introduce the Delaware Botanic Gardens to the Philadelphia
Flower Show audience and to feature Piet Oudolf's DBG meadow design, is
just the kind of synergy and mutual support that is the hallmark of the
For more about the Philadelphia Flower Show, including hours and ticket information, see the website.
Article by Adam Thomas; photos by Wenbo Fan