Williamson’s exhibit in the Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, “Phytoremediation: Plants Planted Today for Tomorrow,” which demonstrated the amazing ability of plants to remove contaminants from the environment, won four prestigious awards.
The exhibit, which was competing in the education category, featured a wall with two halves, the first, with a junkyard appearance representing contaminated soil, and the other, representing a beautiful garden that had been cleansed.
The awards are: the Philadelphia Horticultural Society Gold Medal, with Williamson achieving the highest score in the education category; the Chicago Horticultural Society Flower Show Medal for an educational exhibit showing outstanding horticultural skill and knowledge in a noteworthy recognized flower show; the Special Achievement Award of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania for an exhibit of unusual excellence under 1,000 square feet in the category of education; and the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association Trophy for an exhibit showing the most effective use of plants and the best use of design in the landscape category.
Chuck Feld, horticulture instructor, who was participating in his 51st Philadelphia Flower Show, said “We knew we had a put together a great exhibit, but we were surprised to receive four outstanding awards. All of the awards are prestigious, especially the Chicago Award, and except for the Gold Medal, are from competition with the entire show. This says a lot.”
Feld said the exhibit was successful because it is not a typical design and it informed the public of a fairly new science, phytoremediation. “We did not put out an exhibit that is the same old, same old. We came up with a new idea and we combined a junkyard with a nice garden. The judges liked it a lot. Our seniors worked very hard on this exhibit and they came together assembling it.
“A big endorsement of our exhibit came from a professor from the University of Oxford in England who is studying phytoremediation. He said we nailed it.”
The horticulture seniors who put the exhibit together began planning it last March and worked on it throughout the year. They received help from Williamson’s painters, under the direction of Lori Thoman, decorative trades instructor, carpenters, and machinists.
Cameron Parson, a horticulture senior, said “Winning four awards was an honor and a testament to the hard work we put into it. It makes you proud to know others saw an exhibit that we worked hard on for a long time.”
Horticulture senior Greg Pratico said, “Winning four awards for our exhibit was a great way to end our three years at Williamson. We had a small senior class and we wanted to show that we have what it takes to put out a great exhibit. We were more than pleased with the end result. We couldn’t have done it without Mr. Feld guiding us.”
Caleb Hawkings, a horticulture senior, said “It feels amazing to have won four awards. After waiting three years to have a chance at being in a flower show, and then seeing that we not only got the gold, but also three more awards, is a great way to end my time at Williamson. I was very proud with how everyone worked hard to bring it all together. It was difficult keeping the plants alive and healthy prior to the show and then making sure they got to show safely. But once again, our class worked hard to make sure everything turned out great and it showed.”
Peter Kryszan, a horticulture senior said, “I feel honored to be a part of Williamson’s award winning exhibit. The awards definitely reflect the excellence of Williamson’s horticulture seniors, Mr. Feld, and everyone else who was involved with the exhibit. The exhibit came out just as good, if not better than how we planned it to be. It was tricky getting our exhibit transported from Williamson to the Convention Center — our wall, which is a major feature in our exhibit, was very fragile and below freezing temperatures made it tricky transporting the plants. Once everything was in the Convention Center, it was smooth sailing from there.”
Exhibit funding came from the Hoxie Harrison Smith Foundation, the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society. Donations of graphic panels were provided by KC Signs, Aston; brochures by Precision Print-Safeguard, Chadds Ford; plants by Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, Kirkwood; handouts by Professional Duplicating, Media; and mushrooms by Phillips Mushrooms, Kennett Square.