For the ultimate experience in attending flower shows, look no further than the Philadelphia International Flower Show on March 4 through March 9, 2012. Any other flower show pales in comparison, and I’ve been to a few. This year the theme is ‘Hawaii, Islands of Aloha’ and will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia and will benefit the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.
The flower show has been held for 180 years and the best of the best exhibit there. I have judged the show for about 10 years and the great part of judging is you get into the show when no one else is there. No crowds of people to block your view! You see the exhibitors putting last minute touches on their booths and agonizing over each detail for the super competitive awards.
Browsing the exhibits, you will see plant societies like the Cactus Society or the Orchid Society go all out to educate the public on their particular plant families. Non-profits like the Philadelphia Zoo always have creative informative displays and I always come home with tons of ideas and inspiration on seeing the latest and greatest new gardening trends.
The blooming specimens are one of my destinations when I go there, and I just wander the aisles in awe at what people are doing with potted plants. These gardeners must have at least 10 green thumbs! Houseplants sound very pedestrian until you view the beautiful and exotic varieties that people are growing in their home and greenhouse.
The pressed flower pictures are my favorite by far. I can’t believe the incredibly detailed scenes and pictures that are constructed of all pressed plant material. From a distance, the pressed flower pictures look like painted pictures, until you get up close and you see the painstaking detail of plant material that makes up each work of art.
One year, there was an exhibit of shoes, hats, and purses-all of plant material! Another year- it was jewelry made of tiny dried flowers and foliage. And every year, the miniature arrangements are full of people lined up to marvel at the tiny treasures.
Each year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society publishes a schedule, which is simply a listing of the types and themes of the exhibits with instructions. Exhibitors obtain all the information that they need from the schedule and enter the class by reservation. The PHS even conducts seminars on how to enter and to learn pointers on earning those coveted ribbons.
When I get tired of wandering the aisles and elbowing people, I attend one of the informational seminars held in an adjacent room. Last year, I watched a presenter put together a mudcrete trough right on the stage and plant it. I have also seen flower arrangers, culinary presentations, and authors talking about their latest gardening books. For a break, there are free wine tastings and special events such as an afternoon tea which cost extra. There really is something for everyone.
Any visit to the Flower Show is not complete without visiting the marketplace. I go prepared to spend some serious money on plants, cut flowers, floral jewelry, garden statues, and whatever strikes my fancy. You name it- if it is garden related, you will find it at one of the vendors. Go to http://www.theflowershow.com/Attractions/index.html for more information and escape the winter cold and go to Hawaii!