This year we are designing and constructing our 35th exhibit for the Philadelphia Flower Show. We will also be constructing a second exhibit designed by world famous garden designer James Basson, who has been inspired by the artist Albert Diato.
Basson’s exhibit will include a field of dried grasses and young shoots starting to wake up in the spring. Rising out of the field will be a six foot high wall resembling the rammed earth walls Diato observed in Afghanistan.
Rammed earth walls constructed on the show floor would be lovely but time constraints force us to construct as much of the exhibit ahead of time as possible. A little creativity goes a long way during this construction process. Customized pallets accommodate the unique horseshoe shaped wall inspired by Albert Diato’s painting.
James Basson requested the wall to be made from natural materials. Straw bales, seen here, have been trimmed and tied together. Each bale is reinforced with bamboo stakes driven through multiple bales, stabilizing the structure for transportation to the show floor.
Five layers of reinforced straw bales have resulted in an impressive six foot high wall. Holes in between the bales are stuffed and compacted with extra straw in order to present as flat of a surface as possible for a base coat of stucco slurry.
The pallets are pulled apart to make it easier for our crew to spray on the base layer of stucco. The sprayer ensures that stucco covers the straw strands and gets into all the nooks, ensuring a strong bond for the next layers of mud slurry that will be hand troweled into a smooth surface.
Less than three months and you can see the complete exhibit down at the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show, March 1 – 9. For more information about flower show preparations, plant forcing in our greenhouses, and behind the scenes sneak peeks, visit us on Facebook.