Design Articulture Club takes home gold at The Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show
Courtesy of Chris Bonura/THE

Erin Fogarty (left,) the Horticulture Club’s president, and Design Articulture Club (DART) President Chris Bonura (right) pose in front of their exhibit at The Philadelphia Flower Show.

Staff Reporter

The Philadelphia Flower show was in full bloom this past week. From March 2 until March 10, attendees explored the Philadelphia Convention Center and witnessed displays created by the world’s leading floral and landscape designers.

Among the displays were educational exhibits built by high schools and colleges in the surrounding areas, including one built by the university’s own Design Articulture Club (DART).

This year’s theme was “Flower Power,” and each exhibit highlighted how flowers impact people’s lives.

“We went with the idea of the power of flowers to heal,” DART President Chris Bonura said. “We decided that we wanted to have areas of plants, each area based on what it does for your body.”

Delaware’s exhibit was called Herban Apotheka, a take on a modern apothecary. The construction began in October of 2018, taking five months to design, build and perfect.

The design idea was taken from a final project in a class called Design Process Practicum, a class which focuses on real-world design and installation projects. From there, the DART team collaborated to create a structure that flowed and followed the theme.

“It has to be something that’s realistic,” Bonura said, explaining what it takes to design an award-winning exhibit. “We’ve learned over the years that your design has to be more simplistic while still hitting the theme on the head.”

The final product housed five plant beds, each related to health and healing along with shelves that stored bundles of medicinal plants.

Bonura took on the task of creating the flower layout, a job that required extensive knowledge and research. Plants that helped lung and skin health were among those included in the beds, all of which event attendees could learn about as they walked through the Herban Apotheka.

“[Attendees] could see the native plants that they could plant in their own backyard,” Bonura said. “It would inspire them to learn about how they could use them to care for themselves.”

Leading the team for the first time this year as president, Bonura explained how much work goes into the behind the scenes construction and planning.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t realize,” Bonura said. “It’s not just draw this on a piece of paper and that’s it. It’s reiterated many times, you have to think about what goes on with plantings. I’d have to get to Philly around eight [a.m.] and be there until ten [p.m.] every single day of the week.”

With a $10,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the team spent many hours in the woodshop building their main structure. In addition to a transportation grant, the group fundraised to pay for additional materials needed for the exhibit construction.

Olivia Boon, a sophomore and first year member of DART, spent her time creating QR codes for the educational aspect of Herban Apotheka.

“We found information on the different types of healing plants in our garden and then we created blurbs to educate the public about their properties and the conditions they like so anyone could grow it at home if they felt so inclined,” Boon said.

Once they had gathered their research, the QR committee recorded themselves reading information about each plant, took the sound bites and made them into QR codes. The codes were printed, laminated and attached to plant tags. During the show, attendees could then hold their phone camera up to a code and hear how to care for that specific plant.

“It was just an extra element that gave our exhibit that educational and interactive component that judges look for,” Boon said. “Plus, it was exciting to see people getting really engaged with everything we built.”

The Design and Articulture Club has competed in the Philadelphia Flower Show for the past seven years. Each year, they won silver — until now.

This year, they won The Alfred M. Campbell Memorial Trophy, awarded to an educational major exhibit that demonstrates the most successful use of a variety of plants in a unique fashion, and they took home the gold.

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