“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, the oldest running flower show since 1829, which has even been featured in Guinness books.
Philadelphia Flower Show (PHS) is world’s largest indoor flower show.
This year’s theme was ‘Wonders of water’. Water is so important for our ecosystem and our survival and what a great way to showcase its importance.
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.
The Philadelphia Flower Show has various 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 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 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.
Educational exhibits –
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 the 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.
Other paid activities at Philadelphia Flower Show
- Butterfly live – 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.
- Garden tea – 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.
- Crafts – For $10 per person, you can choose to do a craft with a few options.
- 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 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 of paid crafts that kids can choose to do.
Philadelphia Convention center in March.
The ticket for Adults is approx $30 while for children is $17. But there is 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. At some streets, it is free to park on Sunday. Please read the parking board for more details.
- But 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.
Tips for visiting Philadelphia Flower Show
- Book tickets online in advance to get 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.