The 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show, presented by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, runs from Sunday, March 4 through Sunday, March 11. It occupies ten acres in the Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets in downtown Philadelphia, where it has been held since 1996.
This year’s theme for the show is Hawaii: Islands of Aloha.
I’ve missed the flower show the past couple years and looked forward to attending this year. The flower show is somewhat less crowded on weekdays, so my son and I visited on Wednesday, March 7. My son purchased the tickets online that morning, saving us a few dollars off the admission price.
When we got there a little after noon, the parking lots closest to the Convention Center had “FULL” signs. Although we had to park three blocks away, we enjoyed the walk along Race Street through Chinatown in the gorgeous, warm sunshine.
We joined the throng entering the exhibit and were immediately transfixed by the underwater crashing waves display with white orchids. To the right of that, the American Institute of Floral Designers display — The Beautiful Dance: Song, Chant & Hula — featured Hawaiian clothing,the figure of King Kalakaua, and legends of the goddesses as well as plants and flowers.
The main display featured tall palms and bamboo, a 25-foot-high waterfall which splashes into a pool in Pele’s Garden, and a large grass-roofed hut. Projections on the hut showed people opening flaps and looking out. One projection, of a Hawaiian man who looked at the crowd with binoculars and then waved, got a laugh from the crowd. The display also featured the periodic appearance of live performers and Hawaiian mythology about the fire goddess Pele.
At first, the place seemed no less crowded than on the weekend, but once we wound our way past the main displays, the crowd thinned out, and we had no trouble getting close enough to study and photograph the entries. All the displays, large and small, were lovely.
In addition to the usual food venders at the rear of the Convention Center, flower show attendees could sample authentic Hawaiian cuisine in the Kaua’i Cafe in the center of the display area. The line for the cafe was so long that my son and I decided, with regret, to pass on eating there. A larger dining area might be a good idea for next year’s show!
Hawaiian-themed displays featured orchids and palms, surfboards and surfers’ retreats, small ponds and waterfalls, volcanic rock gardens, sandy beaches, colorful flowers, and a carved log canoe.
Two non-Hawaiian displays also caught my attention: the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters exhibit of Philadelphia in miniature with buildings sporting green rooftops and the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades’ American Roots: A Williamsburg Colonial Kitchen Garden.
Other attractions at the show include gardening lectures and presentations, culinary presentations and wine tasting, and even a Man Cave.
After viewing all the exhibits, attendees can roam through the left end of the convention area and purchase flowers, plants, and garden-related items of all kinds. I admit I couldn’t resist buying a couple orchids. Most people consider orchids and African violets hard plants to raise, but they are some of the few I’ve managed to keep alive for long periods of time!
Whether you visit the show to admire the beauty or to garner new gardening or design ideas, the flower show is a great way to get yourself in the mood for spring. Hope to see you there next spring!