Baker design pays tribute to relative, friend.
By Melissa Brooks, Staff Writer
Jenkintown landscape design firm Baker Creative is celebrating its first year as an exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs through March 11 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Baker Creative founder and President Brad Baker of Wyncote, a Pennsylvania certified horticulturist, submitted an application for the 2008 flower show in August.
Generally, a designer begins work on an exhibit for the flower show about 18 months in advance, he said.
But after another entry cancelled, Baker was invited to move his plans ahead and fill the opening.
As a first-time exhibitor, Baker Creative was allotted space as part of a four-exhibit transitional section, intended to help new exhibitors get their feet wet at the show.
"The flower show is a large undertaking," Baker said. "The good news was we had already figured out a lot of what we wanted to do."
Baker Creative was required to decide on some of the plant material it would use by October so the plants could go into cold storage, "fooling them into thinking it was winter," Baker said.
a visionary design process, Baker knew in what direction
he was headed.
The finished product, "Legends of Ireland: A Dynamic Irish Story - Literary Legends Amid a Legendary Landscape," features five different kinds of stone, crotons - a subtropical plant - and Japanese maple trees.
The dynamic expression of Baker's flower show creation, like that of all his landscape designs, highlights the use of stone.
"Even something as static as stone can appear as though it's moving," he said.
Baker evokes movement through different facets of stone, new lighting techniques and quick changes of design elements, often creating a "whole new mood."
The decision to include crotons - which Baker described as similar to sugar maple on a waxy leaf the size of a hand, with a "very lush" color tone, coming in all different shapes - came from his grandfather, James Baker, an avid horticulturist who inspired his career choice.
James died about a year ago, but Baker used fond memories of helping his grandfather preserve the subtropical over winter in a "cave they dug in his basement" as inspiration for his exhibit.
"This show is about education," Baker said. "To see what's possible from the best designers in the area."
And what Baker wants to contribute to this annual flower education forum is that, surprisingly, "these subtropicals [including crotons and fuchsias] are good plants for this particular area because of the Gulf Stream current to Ireland," he said.
The exhibit also uses a variety of Japanese maples in memory of Baker's friend, landscape designer Roger Copland of Glenside, who recently passed away.
Baker includes three Japanese maples, his friend's favorite tree, that were actually harvested on Copland's property.
The first-time Philadelphia Flower Show exhibitor took home two awards at this years show the Best Achievement: Design of paths and walkways and the Daily Maintenance and Condition awards. According to flower show judges, the awards recognized Bakers originality of design and materials and the firms care of its booth, an outstanding achievement for a first-time exhibitor, given the complexity of conceiving, creating and maintaining a booth at this prestigious show. Baker Creative also recently received a Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association Excellence in Design Award, the firm's fourth award from three different categories.