If you are in or close to Philly in March, don’t forget to check the Philadelphia Flower Show. Here’s a detailed family guide to the Philadelphia Flower Show for you to plan for this annual blooming splendor with family.
A Detailed Family Guide to the Philadelphia Flower Show
“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” ~ Edwin Curran
Who doesn’t want to listen and sway to the music of the ground? We felt so refreshed after visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show.
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Some Facts About the Philadelphia Flower Show
Philadelphia Flower Show (PHS) is the world’s largest and longest-running unique indoor flower show. It’s the oldest flower show since 1829, which has also even been featured in Guinness World Records.
The show is an annual affair that takes place at the beginning of March at Pennsylvania Convention Center and is organized by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS). It attracts thousands of people every year. A great way to welcome spring indeed.
Philadelphia Flower Show Themes
The Philadelphia Flower Show has a new theme each year so it feels like refreshingly new every time you visit.
Philadelphia Flower Show Themes of the past few years include “Holland: Flowering the World” in 2017, “Explore America: 100 Years of the National Park Service” in 2016 and “Celebrate the Movies” in 2015. Here’s the list.
Philadelphia Flower Show 2018
This year’s theme ‘Wonders of water’ celebrates the importance of water for our ecosystem and our survival. Impressive floral displays showcasing the climates in different regions are sure to take your breath away.
We were welcomed into a rainforest with a huge structure made of wooden poles adorned with plants and beautiful tropical flowers hanging over, gives an impression that you have entered a paradise. How can a rainforest be complete without rain and water? So yes, there is rain feeding to a pond and exquisite colorful flowers blooming all around. There is still more excitement in the forest, a big cascading waterfall through tiered bamboo structures and tropical plants and flowers in the surrounding. No doubt there is a gallery to get pictures clicked (extra price for it).
I felt myself drifted away and could see and hear the toucans and macaw, the monkeys jumping over the trees. The Rainforests are the best to maintain and conserve the water cycle, the rain feeds the tall trees and the water trickles down to the small plants at the surface and remaining as streams that form the big rivers. Great for kids to learn about the rainforests in such a practical way.
2018 Philadelphia Flower Show Displays
Who doesn’t want to have an attractive garden in their house? With big lawns, waterfalls/ small pond, aromatic flowers and a swing to sit and enjoy the beauty with a hot cup of coffee. There were some great displays to get inspired and have a dream garden.
The Designer Studio
It had 3 top flower artists who were competing to create flower arrangements with the same set of flowers and tools in 30 minutes. It was fascinating to see how simple stems of leaves and plants put together in a pattern created magic. The artists were so innovative and knew their books so well. One of the artists cut the pink ginger flower from its stem and used those flowers in the arrangement. Then he used the stems to add an element and to add to the fun, he fixed another flower over these ginger stems to delude you. Another artist was very interactive and kept asking the audience for ideas. He used the ginger stems and tied them together to make a triangular frame in which he placed his flowers.
It was a great experience to get some fine tips about new products in the market and ways to arrange flowers.
Pro Tip – If you keep changing the water of the flowers daily, they stay fresh longer.
This was the most creative part of the show. We were astonished to see the variety of things created with plants and flowers alone. Creative ‘botanical jewelry’ pieces like necklaces, clutches, earrings, bracelets were true masterpieces. I was trying to get into the artists’ shoes and think of what went through their minds.
There was a bracelet made with pumpkin seeds only and I could have never imagined it in my wildest dreams if I would not have read it. There was an exquisite necklace made with cloves, star anise, white pepper, cantaloupe seeds, mustard seeds. That is not all.
A turquoise clutch depicting the underwater scene blew our mind. The intricate work using pressed flowers and natural ingredients to create a magical scene was admirable.
Then there were walls adorned with multiple frames. You must be wondering what’s so special – regular frames with pics and paintings depicting the theme. Exactly from a distance, we saw beautiful framed cards, but up close we realized they were made from pressed flowers. Such fine designs and finesse that we were in awe.
There were also displays of miniature gardens with different themes – beach, Roman gardens, backyard, camping etc. and the fine detailing of each.
Pro tip– There is a long line to see these designs which move slowly, so avoid peak times and try to view in the morning or later in the day.
Going with the theme of water, it is important to throw light on clean water scarcity around the world, which we fail to realize sitting in the comforts of our home. The American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) focused on 7 countries – China, India, Mexico, Pakistan, US, Papua New Guinea, Africa depicting each country with flowers/foliage native to it.
Mexico had been called the Bottled water country now, since they use bottled water for everything including cooking, drinking and even bathing.
China suffered from many of its rivers getting polluted by dyes/ chemicals from factories even turning a river red.
India had the largest number of people living in rural areas without clean drinking water.
Pakistan is dealing with a large water scarcity that it will run out of the water by 2025.
In the US, water is getting contaminated at many locations due to pipe deterioration.
Throwing light on these critical issues is very important.
This is must visit for people staying in apartments or small spaces, but still, love plants. Insight into new ways of utilizing the space and maintaining it. Also, to conserve water and use it judiciously. We always have known that plants grow in soil and they need water and sunlight to grow. What if I tell you that some plants don’t need soil. Yes, this form of practice in horticulture is called Hydroponics, where the roots are kept only in nutrient-rich water and they can grow. Another interesting form is Aquaponics, where the water will also have some aquatic animal like fish, snail or prawns to provide fertilizer to the plant. Isn’t that amazing and innovative way??
After spending hours admiring flowers and creativity, it’s time to do some shopping to add some flowery charm to your house. There are many vendors with everything related to horticulture – from flowers, seeds, tools, medicines to decoration items.
Paid Activities at Philadelphia Flower Show 2018
It is an exhibit where you can walk and see butterflies in their natural habitat, feed them, touch them and learn everything about them and their cycle. Ticket – $5.
This is like enjoying a cup of tea and sandwiches sitting in your beautiful garden. Nice way to relax and unwind yourself. There is an extra ticket for the event and happens 2 times a day. So please check the timings and plan to wait in a long queue.
For $10 per person, you can choose to do a craft with a few options.
Take Away for Kids From 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show
- It was a great platform to talk about the essential thing we all need – clean water. Sometimes we neglect its importance as we don’t face scarcity. But the kids need to conserve and understand its importance.
- They got to learn about the water cycle through the huge display of Rainforest.
- There was a cart with an artificial stream with local fishes and garbage in it. The kids had to pull out all the garbage to get clean water for the fishes to survive.
- Flowers attract all ages and kids loved so many new varieties and colors.
- Utilization of all kinds of space to grow plants. Old boats filled with soil and used to grow plants.
- There were quite a few options for paid crafts that kids can choose to do.
Where is the Philadelphia Flower Show held
The Philadelphia Flower Show runs at Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch streets.
When does the Philadelphia Flower Show start
The show takes place at the beginning of March.
Philadelphia Flower Show Tickets
The ticket for Adults is approx $30 while for children (age 2-16) is $17. $20 for students (age 17-24) and free for children under 2. There’s an economical online discounted package for a family of 4.
Even though it was a wonderful experience, but we found it to be a little expensive with extra tickets for some displays and activities.
How to Reach
- Few parking garages near the Convention Center that can be considered. On some streets, it is free to park on Sunday. Please read the parking board for more details.
- But the best option would be to take the Septa (public local transportation system including train and buses) to Jefferson Station. There is an entrance to the Convention center right from the station.
Where to Stay
There are many good hotels near Philadelphia Flower Show Event. The best place to stay would be Philadelphia Downtown. To book a hotel choose from the ample options here.
Tips for Visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show
- Book tickets online in advance to get a discount, although they still are a bit expensive. The tickets are also available at major shopping stores like Giant, Wegmans, Acme, AAA.
- There is a family saver package available online.
- To avoid the rush, plan to reach there at opening time or late afternoon. It tends to get really crowded during the day.
- You can leave and re-enter the show during the day after getting your hand stamped.
- Snacks are available at the Convention Center but can explore options outside as well. Great eating spots are right outside the convention center like Reading Terminal Market but expect long waiting. Chinatown is also close by and has great options and variety.
- It is better to take some snacks along.
Hope our detailed family guide to the Philadelphia flower show helps you to plan your visit to this blooming wonderland. If you have any queries, feel free to ask.