Explore America…miniature designs

Philadelphia Flower Show

Miniature designs are always a crowd favorite at the Philadelphia Flower Show.  These designs, not to exceed 5″ in any dimension, challenge designers to use dried plant materials and parts of plants in a new way.  There are two days of entry for these classes, the first Friday and the Wednesday.


Because of the changeover on Wednesday, I only managed to photograph the First and Best of the Day – Miniatures from Friday’s classes.  This design was in a class called 1776.  The judges comment read, “Stars and stripes abound in balance and rhythm, color and texture”.

Spirit WorldMoving on to the Wednesday classes, the difficulty in photographing this first place winner in Spirit World was that it was constantly in motion.  Even photographing it full on, it was still slightly moving.  Hanging designs can be hard to do because more that one hanging point is need for them to be stable.  This design became a wonderful mobile, very spirit-like.

Branching First

Branching Out was a second class in miniatures.  This first place winner used the echoing  circular forms of the double mat board circular frame and the curved mat board background (which in itself sets up  a curved ‘floor’) to reinforce the circular forms of the design.  The contrast of the pine needles added punch to the design.

 Branching Out

This design in Branching Out used the circular mat opening but not the repeating circles of the other boards.  The bright turquoise mat board was a perfect contrast for the orange painted i-don’t-know-what.

 mini challenge First

The most fascinating mini class was Shape Shifter,  a challenge class with a great twist.  Instead of sending exhibitors a pack of components to transform by adding plant material,  these exhibitors received a box full of dried plant material:  Devil’s claws and seed pods, hickory nuts, oak caps, lotus seed pods, pinecones, milkweed pods, maple seed pods, and poppy pods.  The instructions were for them to be taken apart and reconstructed but nothing could be added.  Above is the First in the class, brilliantly colored and  quite stunning.

Shape Shifter Challenge Secomd

Second place in Shape Shifter, this design takes advantage of the unique curls of the Devil’s Claw – Harpagophytum – in the sesame family.  You can buy them on etsy.com

 Shape Shifter

This designer too most of the components to create almost a garden of the components – with its blue mats, it almost looks like some kind of underwater sea life.

 Glacier First

 Glacier Second



On Friday we were privileged to judge the small niche class,  A Season in the Park: Winter Chill, and were delighted with the high quality of the entries, giving the class a Judges’ Commendation.  The class results were First, top to HM, bottom.   All in all, a challenge and pleasure to judge this class.


About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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