Chestnut Hill: Robertson’s Flowers Prepares for the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show

The Philadelphia Flower Show returned last weekend, giving a glimpse of spring amid an elongated winter. This year the theme for the show is “ARTiculture,” alluding to a mixture of art and horticulture. Exhibition designers for the Show drew inspiration from major art museums across the country. Robertson’s Flowers, a longstanding Chestnut Hill business, has been participating in the Show for more than 30 years. This year brings new opportunity for the family-run floral business to create an unprecedented exhibit.

Robertson’s is recognized by the Philadelphia Flower Show as one of the most active local florists in the annual showcase.

Through March 9, the Pennsylvania Convention Center will transform into an interactive garden showcase, complete with an aerial dance troupe, Bandaloop and butterfly expose. Robertson’s took cue from the Show’s opening interactive elements and chose to base their exhibit on dance.

“Dancing the Dream” is the name of Robertson’s showcase and is based on an art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery by the same name.

Fresh roses used in Robertson's Flower' "Dancing the Dream."
Fresh roses were used in Robertson’s Flower’ “Dancing the Dream.”

Eric Schellack, one of the main designers for Robertson’s, traveled to the D.C. museum where he became inspired.

The museum’s exhibition hopes to show how dance is an integrated part of the American Dream, covering dance from more than100 years.

“American culture fosters innovation and creativity,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery said. “These characteristics are well demonstrated in the constantly evolving styles of dance and those who have created this distinctive American form.”

Dancers and performers, from Isadora Duncan to Beyonce and everyone in between, are showcased in “Dancing the Dream.”

Part of the museum’s exhibit is video and Robertson’s uses that element, as well.

“It’s kind of an MTV element,” Schellack said about the large screen and neon-colored set he worked on setting up for Robertson’s.

He also created metal dance sculptures to wrap flower arrangements around.

Five stages will be used for Robertson’s showcase. They are the categories from “Dancing the Dream” at the National Portrait Gallery: The Rise of American Ballet, Broadway and the American Dream, Choreographing Modern America, Choreography Goes Pop! and Lights! Camera! Action!. The stages in Robertson’s showcase use these different moments in dance to convey aspects of the the American Experience.

The National Portrait Gallery exhibit uses posters, images and the extensive collection it has amassed over the years to create “Dancing the Dream.” Robertson’s uses flowers and handmade sets to create the same concept. It is a daunting task, where the designers will work nonstop to perfect flower arrangements and create floral fantasies. Keeping the flowers healthy and fresh is one of the challenges the designers face when constructing sets.

Set design for Robertson's Flowers' "Dancing the Dream."
The set design for Robertson’s Flowers’ “Dancing the Dream” was ready to be seen by visitors of the show.

For all the challenges this year’s theme poses, Robertson’s does however know firsthand about experiencing the American Dream.

A landscaping company that was started in 1927 by George Robertson and his son transformed into a thriving fresh-cut flower business and shop on Germantown Avenue. The business withstood the Great Depression. It has stayed a family-run business and has maintained its spot in the Chestnut Hill community. The business is thankful of its community support and is dedicated to repaying the community through charitable donations.

This past year Robertson’s donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation, The Philadelphia Antique Show and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The business also annually donates to The American Red Cross and The American Cancer Society.                    

Sarah MacEachern is proud of her family’s business and helped the Robertson’s team of designers prepare for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show.

Robertson’s Flowers has won at the Philadelphia Flower Show before, even winning Best in Show in both 2001 and 2004.

“This year [our showcase] is really cool,” MacEachern said, hopeful for another winning year.

Floral arrangement for Robertson's Flowers' "Dancing the Dream."
A floral arrangement for Robertson’s Flowers’ “Dancing the Dream” was proudly displayed at the show.

– Text, images and video by Logan Wilson and Sinead Cummings.

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