The Philadelphia Flower Show, which hinted that it might be moving toward a kind of edginess last year, swung back to its roots with an opulent, romantic vision of Paris at the turn of the 20th century this year: "Springtime in Paris."
The show, which runs March 6 through 13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia, chose as its centerpiece, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
A 37-foot tall replica of the base of the Tower provides the archway into the show, and it is surrounded by six gardens which convey a magical time in Paris history just before World War I.
The Tower is surrounded by six showcase gardens and each evokes an element of Paris during "La Belle Epogue," including a carousel, the parlor of an aristocrat's wife, a wedding at Notre Dame, an even the dark and gloomy catacombs beneath the city.
Every aspect of the show says Paris, from the tiny patisserie, the artist's cottage, the hair designs, the shop windows, and, of course, haute couture. All of it either embellished with flowers or made of floral material.
It would not be a Philadelphia Flower Show without a wedding -- it wouldn't be a wedding without flowers -- and this year's wedding scene leads to, of course, a bedroom scene where marriage is what it may never be again...a bed of roses.
All the displays are romantic with a capital "R" except Underground Paris, with crypts and sewers the way you have never seen them: Skulls, broken bikes, wine bottles and spray paint cans mixed with floral material in a darkly magical way.
And finally, I love the "tablescapes" at the show each year, where floral designers attempt to evoke the show's theme over a romantic dinner.
Was that Charles Lindbergh's flower-covered plane that is about to land near the picnickers? And the floor beneath Picasso's table, where he has prepared a rough supper for one of his lovers, looks exactly like one of his paintings. And, of course, "Let them eat cake" is the theme for a more elegant repast.