PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It would be easy to lose track of time amid the 10 acres of horticultural fantasy at the Philadelphia Flower Show. But don't worry — Big Ben is there to keep you on schedule.
A truncated version of perhaps the world's most famous clock is the centerpiece of the floral spectacular that opens Saturday. This year's event boasts a British theme that examines gardening from urban London to country cottages. And it's summed up by a single Anglicism: "Brilliant!"
"It basically means 'awesome' in American terms," said Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show. "We have really transported Britain to Philadelphia — to America — for the next 10 days."
Indeed. Visitors enter through giant "royal" gates and stroll along an avenue lined with white birch trees before arriving at the 38-foot-tall Big Ben. The timepiece towers over terraces filled with varieties of English roses; its four faces are screens that will display a clock as well as offer light-and-sound shows every half-hour.
Major exhibits include the crown jewels rendered in flowers and set amid a Tower of London tableau; a manicured cricket club; a 1960s "peace garden" inspired by the British music invasion; the Mad Hatter's tea party; and the dreary streets of 19th-century London, as roamed by Jack the Ripper.
A stylized display titled London Fog blooms with calla lilies, mother-of-pearl roses and French tulips. As a light "drizzle" falls on flower-bedecked umbrellas — some dangling from the ceiling, others clustered in vertical stands — "fog" swirls below.
"We have a mist and a gentle rain and lots of black umbrellas to give you the flavor of a London scene," said Robin Heller, co-owner of the Flowers by David, the Langhorne, Pa.-based company that designed the scene.