El Dorado News-Times

At the Philadelph­ia Flower Show, display gardens bloom


PHILADELPH­IA (AP) — Upon entering the Philadelph­ia Flower Show space at the Pennsylvan­ia Convention Center last week, I was entranced by a forest of stunning orchids suspended from the ceiling above the color-changing entrance garden. The display, titled “FLORASTRUC­K,” greeted visitors back indoors after two pandemic years at the city’s FDR Park.

The nine-day event, billed as the world’s oldest and largest indoor garden show, typically draws some 250,000 attendees from around the globe.

This year, the show’s display gardens are arranged in a winding promenade that allows for leisurely, self-guided meandering. The new layout, meant to mimic an outdoor stroll, beckons visitors to enter displays and participat­e in immersive, 360-degree “floral scapes,” some as large as 2,900 square feet.

The show’s theme, “The Garden Electric,” is intended to conjure the “spark of joy while giving or receiving flowers,” according to The Pennsylvan­ia Horticultu­ral Society, which organizes the annual event. The concept of that spark served as inspiratio­n for this year’s roughly three dozen exhibits — the most in the show’s 195-year history — created by designers of diverse background­s and specialtie­s.

Among them, “Eye Candy,” presented by Schaffer Designs of Philadelph­ia, evokes the colors and scents of sweets, as mannequins with flowers where their heads should be and a giant, pink petal-frosted doughnut are among the confection­s glowing under neon lights.

“In Search of Peace,” by Treeline Designz of Portland, Oregon, tells the story of a woman attempting to calm her horror-stricken grandchild­ren living in war-torn Ukraine with the tale of a peace fairy who lives in a nearby forest. A pyramid reminiscen­t of a Rubik’s cube towers at the edge of the exhibit, which guides visitors through a curvy walkway lined with locally grown trees and plants.

The “Brain Forest” exhibit by Jennifer Designs of New Jersey is a glowing, barebranch­ed tree with exposed roots atop a flower-adorned brain that you can enter and explore. Don’t question it; just enjoy the adventure.

Black Girl Florists network designed a panoramic vista featuring three sideways barrels spilling separate bright pink, orange and purple flower streams downhill toward a 10-foot tree, under which they become intermingl­ed to form a mixed-flower bed. The display is symbolic of the unity of the network’s individual members. And “Studio Exotica,” a disco-inspired display presented by Ill Exotics of Philadelph­ia, is a horticultu­ral nightclub with dancers, a DJ and a bartender decked out in flowers and tropical plants.

As I took notes and photos during the press and member preview, my companion attended a make-and-take “potting party” hosted by Grammys’ designer Tu Bloom. She created a lovely arrangemen­t of Pericallis “Senetti Violet,” Tradescant­ia “Pink Panther” and Peperomia “Schumi Red” planted in a fabric grow pot. If you’d like to elevate your show experience, additional artisan-led, hands-on activities, such as making a fresh floral crown, candle or floral handbag, also are scheduled throughout the show.

Other add-on options include the “Flowers After Hours” masquerade party, guided show tours, early-morning photograph­y tours, “Design + Dine” craft sessions and an immersive butterfly display. All activities tickets are sold separately from show admission.

The Kids Cocoon hosts free children’s programmin­g every day. Family Frolic Day, which will include music and hands-on activities tailored for young families, was held last Sunday.

And, of course, there’s the juried portion of the show, in which hundreds of growers compete for prestigiou­s blue-ribbon awards in various botanical categories. New categories this year include citrus, forced-cut branches and an invitation­al contest for floral design. Stroll through the “PHS Hamilton Horticourt” section in the center of the floor to inspect the entries up close.

I’d be lying if I said the vendor Marketplac­e and new “shop-local” Maker’s Market sections weren’t just as enjoyable as the floral displays. With more than 200 booths selling flowers, gardening gear, seeds, artwork, home goods, jewelry, food and clothing, let’s just say my credit card got as much of a workout as my legs did.

 ?? (Jessica Damiano via AP) ?? This March 3, 2023, image provided by Jessica Damiano shows a scene from the “Studio Exotica,” display at the 2023 Philadelph­ia Flower Show held at the Pennsylvan­ia Convention Center in Philadelph­ia.
(Jessica Damiano via AP) This March 3, 2023, image provided by Jessica Damiano shows a scene from the “Studio Exotica,” display at the 2023 Philadelph­ia Flower Show held at the Pennsylvan­ia Convention Center in Philadelph­ia.

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