Apiary Studio

Right of Way was a temporary exhibition garden for the 2024 indoor PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, for which it won Best in Show in the landscape category. Responding to the theme of the show, which was United by Flowers, our team came up with the following concept for our display: The ditches and embankments along our roadsides form a green throughway unbound by state lines that unites natural and post-wild land across the country. Imagine you’ve pulled over on the shoulder of a highway. What do you see?

Like many modes of construction, road building is a disturbance event that can be highly disruptive or destructive of local ecologies. However, the easements and remnant lands that surround roads can become stable, functional, and often very iconic swaths of the American landscape that buffer roads from the agricultural, commercial, and industrial activities they border. Moreover, these lands are innately accessible, providing as much a glimpse into the beauty of the natural world as some of the more protected and conspicuous environments that roads serve to connect.

We attempted to create a theatrical experience that reflects the quintessential experience of being on a great American road trip, albeit through a playful, dreamlike lens befitting an indoor flower show. The backdrop of the space was a 30-foot-long billboard with a photographic triptych by artist Jaime Alvarez is suggestive of a mirage on the horizon, with images of roadside scenes across the country to enclose the view, prompt individual memories, and remind us of the value and expanse of lands such as these. Emblematic highway features such as a guardrail, asphalt curb, and reflective striping reinforced the feeling of being a traveler, juxtaposed with ubiquitous debris and ephemera that were recreated as paper mâché art pieces to magnify the uncanniness of an indoor, out-of-season highway shoulder.

We attempted portray an evocative experience with Right of Way that did not recreate a single, named location but instead encapsulated a feeling of the road trip as a common right of passage. And so rather than produce a carbon copy replica of one single locale, we deliberately utilized a combination of facsimile and amalgamation to represent a broad palette of plants spanning early spring dormancy to full summer splendor. Many of the stalwart warm season grasses that typify roadsides in this part of the country are challenging to force out of season and so were represented in their winter form or with non-native cool season counterparts. Cosmopolitan taxa that tend to follow transportation corridors such as common mullein were represented by stands of snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) and the showy hybrid  Verbascum ‘Honey Dijon’. Chicory was replaced with cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) and forget-me-nots (Cynoglossum amabile ‘Firmament’); and Queen Ann’s Lace was played by its understudy, Ammi majus. Familiar robust flowering North American perennials, such as pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida) and willow leaf sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius) were been forced into flower and joined by some recognizable annuals that form the basis of many highway pollinator mixes, such as Cosmos and Coreopsis.

Images copyright 2024 Jaime Alvarez

SIZE: 1,000 SF

YEAR: 2024

LOCATION: PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, Philadelphia, PA

Kelly-flower-show-56-2.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-8.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-2.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-1.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-289.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-281.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-278.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-268.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-262.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-250.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-249.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-233.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-232.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-155.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-154.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-151.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-149.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-143.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-139.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-137.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-127.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-125.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-124.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-123.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-121.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-119.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-115.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-107.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-105.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-94.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-93.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-89.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-80.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-78.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-66.jpg ApiaryFlowershow-23.jpg