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Flower Power

While most of us are sastified with a flat or two of mixed variety, dId you know there is a whole network of flower judges – trained and certified to determine a flower’s merits - and that this week is their main events? 

For us on the East Coast, The Philadelphia Flower Show is it - a competition that attracts the best of the best!

Why judge flowers, you may be wondering.

I certainly don’t buy or grow flowers for the competition of it. But once you’ve attend one of these events, you begin to understand more fully the art and the science behind something as simple as a tulip. For instance, did you know there are 3,000 ‘registered’ varieties? Did you know that the demand for tulips set off "tulip mania" in the Netherlands around 1637, and prices for some varieties soared to ten times the annual salary of a craftsman?

And we thought the Iphone was special.

Last year, I had my first encounter with “The Flower Show.” (I guess like UVA calling itself, ‘the College,’ Philly claims the same simple moniker.) And because they’ve hosted the show since, 1829, who can argue?

When you walk through the entrance of the Philadelphia Convention Center, you know at once this is a florist’s dream. Every one of the men and women attending, are carrying a bouquet or a plant or a garden trinket – something they’ve purchased in the extensive ‘market place’ that accompanies the show.

Once you pass through the doors of the Show, however, you will feel as though someone picked you up and transported you to lovely garden lanes, cottage rooms and caverns bedecked with fences, floral chandeliers and everything flower-imaginable. It’s like the Willy Wonka Flower Factory and you can’t help but wonder how it all got trucked in there and set up so beautifully.

In addition to the rows and rows of flowers, plants and arrangements displayed in the numerous judging categories; there are designer demonstrations; there are talks and walks and eats and treats. One could not possibly take it all in.

Just to give you a tiny taste of all the show offers, here is one page of a 4 page listing:

  • Acme Presents: DIY Spring Décor-DIY your home for spring with Debi Lilly Design, from grocery to gorgeous style. Florals, tablescapes, entertaining, gifts and more come alive with spring's top trends.

  • Anthurium- The Next Great Potted Plant! A miracle of Dutch ingenuity in plant breeding has brought us big blooms on long-lasting plants! Perfect as indoor houseplants our outdoor accents in shade!

  • Container Garden Challenge-Join the fun as three challengers build container gardens to compete for the audience's vote. You'll learn a bit about container gardening at the same time!

  • Stormwater Management at Your Home – Rain Barrels, Downspout Planters, and More. In cities like Philadelphia, impervious surfaces (roofs, streets, etc.) generate stormwater runoff that can overburden sewer systems and lead to severe water quality issues. Learn how to manage stormwater runoff on a small scale using stormwater management practices that are currently offered for free or at reduced costs through PHS’ and the Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check program.

  • Mastering the Art of Wintertime Bulb Forcing- You can easily fill your winter windowsills with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and the rest of your favorite spring-blooming bulbs. In this informative and laugh-out-loud lecture, famed Philadelphia Flower Show bulb forcer and award-winning author Art Wolk will show you how you to force a cornucopia of bulbs into bloom each winter. Art will also be available to sign copies of his informative booklet, The Little Blue Book of Bulb Forcing.

  • Flowers for Wellness: Horticultural Therapy. Working with flowers and horticulture have been scientifically documented to improve wellness - the colors, smells and emotions actually affect the neurotransmitters in our brain. Cheryl has been working with ALL ages ( 4 - 104) and abilities for the past 24 years nurturing self expression and self esteem. She says, "Flowers are fresh, but they don’t talk back!"

  • Orchids Gone Native. Ditch your orchid pot with this fun and educational demonstration. Learn how to mount your orchid on cork bark or in a tree fern basket. Book signing follows

  • Creating a Living Flower Arrangement with Bulbs. Brent will talk about which bulbs and plants are best suited for pot culture for summertime use. He will demonstrate how to build a layered ‘Living Flower Arrangement’ that will beautify your porch, deck or patio for the rest of the summer.

  • Easy Care Homegrown Herb Garden. Growing fresh flavorful herbs is easier than you think. In this talk, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl will profile 15 herbs anyone can grow in containers or small space gardens. Book signing follows presentation!

  • Theme Gardens: Kaleidoscope of Color. Learn about a shimmery moon garden, a wonderful kitchen garden, a butterfly garden, a native plant garden, a shade garden, a fragrant herb garden and more that can all be in your yard. Plan to plant in a pot or a plot.

Each year, the Show is centered around a theme. This year it's Holland and the history of garden practices in the Netherlands. Dutch Master Gardeners will be featured as well as diverse presentations of horticulture, innovative eco-design, and modern urban greening and sustainability efforts from that region.

Of course, there will be masses and masses of tulips.

I'm a little sad that the snow may hurt attendance. Proceeds from the Flower Show benefit the year-round programs of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that have become national models of urban greening, including City Harvest, which creates green jobs and supports a network of community gardens that raise fresh produce for families in need.

For more information or to get tickets go to Philadelphia Flower Show. It's well worth the trip.

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