March madness has a whole new meaning for me; move over basketball, I’m going to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This show is mad.
Sponsored by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1827, the Flower Show is held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center under 33 acres, with 10 acres in the main exhibit hall. It’s not only our nation’s largest flower show, it’s the largest indoor flower show in the world. You can’t compare this event with any other show you’ve ever seen.
The show is mad about horticulture, and each year more than 250,000 visitors take in the show. It takes a dedicated effort of a well-established organization to sponsor such an event. Within a week’s time 7,000 Belgian stone blocks will be brought in to outline the beds, with 3,500 volunteers lending a hand; along with plumbers, carpenters, and electricians to help feature more than a million plants.
There are over 50 major exhibitors and amateur gardeners contributing to more than 2,000 entries in 330 competitive categories. Exhibitors will have spent a better part of a year designing their exhibit; and during installation, experts will style, fluff, and buff all for the sole purpose to enhance the visitor’s experience—to make you mad for horticulture.
Last year, I attended the event for the first time. Over the years, I’ve wanted to go, but it took me a while to make my way there. I now know, first hand, what I’ve been missing. There is something for everyone.
Activities for the novice gardener to the experienced horticulturist, and flowers used in ways you’ll insist are not flowers at all, but they are.
My camera was snapping away at unique designs, over-the-top displays that I knew I could never duplicate but appreciated the wow factor. This is the place to be for the latest trends in floral design; the place to see and hear what’s hot in horticulture.
The shopping was also superb. The display side of the indoor exhibits transitions to the shopping side. Here, you can get instant gratification. From Kokedama (string garden) to planted containers and hand blown garden art glass, you can go home with ready-made inspiration. Or, design and build your own inspiration with the latest trends in containers, accents, and design styles. There are free cooking and gardening demonstrations, lectures, and an area where you can try out the latest gardening gadgets.
Philadelphia Flower Show Trip Planner
Held in early March each year
Pennsylvania Convention Center
12th & Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
For tickets and information, visit www.theflowershow.com.
All proceeds from the show, including tickets and sponsorship contributions, support The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and its acclaimed urban greening programs, including City Harvest.
Beat the crowds and plan to begin your day when the doors open or wait until later in the afternoon and stay until closing. Check your coat, and wear comfortable shoes. Don’t let anything stand in your way for an extended stay.
Download the Flower Show app to your smartphone or tablet for information on exhibitors, maps, schedules, special offers and parking advice.
Where to Stay
Area hotels range from a budget night’s stay to some of the best the city offers.
Best Western Center City
501 N. 22nd St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19130
215-568-8300 or 800-528-1234
Crowne Plaza Philadelphia Downtown
1800 Market St.
Center City West
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
215-561-7500 or 800-227-6963
Worth a Visit
During your stay, be sure to head across the street to the Reading Terminal Market to enjoy a meal or do a little shopping. Bring an empty cooler and stock up on local meats and seafood.
Just two blocks east will take you into Chinatown for even more local flavor.
Featured photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC
Helen Yoest is the author of “Gardening with Confidence®–50 Ways to add style for personal creativity.” Helen is an award winning garden writer, garden coach and a sustainable gardener caring for her ½-acre wildlife habitat, Helen’s Haven, in Raleigh.