The oohs and ahhs were many at last night's panel discussion at the Philadelphia International Flower Show, "Transforming Public Landscapes," one in a series of evening presentations by what Pennsylvania Horticultural Society president Drew Becher called, the "rock stars of the landscape world."
Susan Weller, of Olin Partnership, drew admiring gasps with her slides of a redesigned Dilworth Plaza. And Lynden B. Miller, director of the Central Park Conservancy, offered a few drab views of the upper park's Conservatory Garden, then showed off how it looks today, a respite of formal gardens in East Harlem.
But, as is usually the case in matters of urban landscaping, it was Chicago that served as the most exciting inspiration. Doug Hoerr — the landscape architect most associated with a simple but game-changing development: the greening of Michigan Avenue's medians — described how he got involved with the project 18 years ago. Back then, he said, "the only color on Michigan Avenue was the [yellow] striping on the roads."
Terming this a "grand experiment of public horticulture in the middle of the street," Hoerr elaborated that he "wanted horticulture that was big enough, robust enough that it held its own against the architecture of the City of the Big Shoulders." As other presenters also emphasized, he added, "dollar for dollar, nothing is cheaper or more powerful than public horticulture."