March 5 , 2007
The lush greens of Ireland turned gold for Temple University Ambler at the 2007 Philadelphia Flower Show.
Students and faculty in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture won Best of Show in the Academic Educational category for their detailed presentation, “Tírdhreach Fileata na hÉireann — The Poetic Landscape of Ireland.”
This marks the sixth straight year that the Ambler campus has garnered a major exhibitor award at the Flower Show.
“When they put the (Best of Show) sign on our exhibit, we thought it was fantastic,” said Landscape Architecture Junior Jeff Harris, who chaired Temple’s Flower Show project group. “So much work was put in on this project, so much effort and so many hours by everyone involved. All of that work certainly paid off.”
At the 2007 Philadelphia Flower Show, Temple University Ambler’s exhibit explores the indelible connection between Ireland’s oral traditions and its diverse landscape. From the upland moors to the fields and hedgerows to the bogs and drumlins, the exhibit — which will be on display throughout the Flower Show through Sunday, March 11, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center — presents the breadth of the Irish landscape in microcosm.
“It is a landscape that has been written about throughout time in poems and folklore. It is part of the oral tradition of the Irish from ancient myths to the present day,” said Pauline Hurley-Kurtz, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, who coordinated Temple’s 2007 exhibit with Karen Watts, Horticulture Technician Supervisor. “Ireland offers a wealth of landscape variety. Most Irish are not so far removed from their farming heritage, perhaps a generation or two — that essential connection to the land remains strong.”
Professor Hurley-Kurtz and Karen Watts, “did a wonderful job leading the effort to create this exhibit, which began in summer 2006,” said Dr. Mary Myers, Acting Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture.
“The students were exceptionally focused and worked together to create a sophisticated and richly detailed exhibit,” said Dr. Myers. “I found it quite beautiful and particularly liked the way the plants and walls crisscrossed the fore and middle grounds of the exhibit to lead the eye toward the distant sea. Special recognition should be paid to Sheila Chlebda, Horticulture Technician, who spent a great deal of time searching for, cultivating, and nurturing the plants.”
A walk through Temple’s exhibit is a walk through the diversity of the Irish landscape and its connections to Ireland’s oral tradition.
“The exhibit represents a cross section of the Irish landscape, from the limestone Burren of County Clare to the fields and bogs of the central lowlands and the sandstone and granite heaths in the uplands of County Down,” said Hurley-Kurtz. “The tour begins from west to east of the island with the Burren, which has an interesting and unusual plant palette including Mediterranean and alpine plants. Throughout, visitors walk between stone walls and meadows that feature standing stones characteristic of many Celtic landscapes.”
Visitors also experience a drumlin, a reference to the landscape of the northern third of Ireland where glacial deposits shaped these small hills.
“We have also included a lone tree, a ‘sceach’ or ‘craobh,’ a sacred tree that has continued to be an important landscape feature from early Celtic mythology,” said Hurley-Kurtz. “We wanted to fully explore the ecology of these landscapes and the deep connection to Irish folklore. Evocative images of the Irish sense of ‘place’ — stone, hedge, wall — are also revealed through the great tradition of Irish landscape poetry. We have included poetry excerpts from Yeats, Colum, Heaney, Longley, and Cannon - lines that particularly describe the landscape. ”
The entire exhibit is backed by a 10-foot by 35-foot mural wall, an extension of the landscape within the exhibit, which includes information stations providing insight into how the Irish landscape has influenced poets through the ages. In addition to hedgerows, hawthorns, holly, alders, roses, heathers, and foxglove, the exhibit prominently features a pool and bog alive with a wide variety of bog plants.
“This project is something I looked forward to working on for two years. The response from visitors has been terrific — they love the natural, believable Irish landscape that the exhibit presents,” Harris said. “There have been a lot of photos and a lot of questions. It’s been very positive.”
From every brush stroke on the mural wall, every word in the brochure and information posters, and every growing plant, “this exhibit was a tribute to the dedication of our students,” said Hurley-Kurtz.
“For our landscape architecture and horticulture students, this is such a wonderful experience, and the design/build aspect is such a unique part of our program here at Ambler. They have the opportunity to share a finished product with such a large, diverse audience — an audience that, in particular, includes many important figures in the Green Industry from across the nation," she said "Given that the theme of this year's show is 'Legends of Ireland,' we are presenting our exhibit to many Irish-Americans and Irish visitors to the show who are familiar with the Irish landscape and its poetry."
Harris said the Flower Show project provides students with “a whole variety of experiences.”
“You are experiencing a real world project from beginning to end — from working as a team to planning the construction to interacting with vendors — and seeing all of these pieces come together,” he said. “The dedication it takes to get an exhibit completed, there is a lot to be learned from that.”
The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest indoor event of its kind in North America, welcoming more than 300,000 visitors a year. Temple University Ambler has a long and illustrious history with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which produces the Philadelphia Flower Show, taking home “Best of Show” awards in 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2003, and 2005 and prestigious honors from the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania in 2004 and the Horticultural Society in 2006.
Building upon a rich history of environmental teaching that dates back to the early 1900s, Temple University Ambler is home to the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture. The degree programs are a unique blend of disciplines, providing students with the design and plant background necessary to succeed in any aspect of the Green Industry.
The Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture at Temple University Ambler is committed to excellence in ecologically based education. The department’s goal is to train leaders in the art and science of horticulture (A.S., B.S., and certificate programs) and landscape architecture (B.S. program). The programs provide students with knowledge and understanding of the environment so that they can improve the quality of our urban, suburban, and rural communities.
For more information on the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture programs at Temple University Ambler, visit www.ambler.temple.edu/la-hort.
CONTACT: James Duffy, 267-468-8108, firstname.lastname@example.org, release available by e-mail