The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is one of my favorite shows at the Philadelphia Convention Center every year, even though, if I am being honest, I am not that much of a flower guy! My thumb is far from green, I don’t plant or grow anything and even eating vegetables and greens is hard for me. That said, I still love the Philly Flower Show and never miss it. Here is why I love it, in no particular order.
17. It’s a great photo-op! If you are a photographer or someone that loves cameras, sooner or later your going to be drawn to flowers. The Philly Flower Show brings you thousands and thousands all under one roof, in the dead of winter no less. Here are some of my favorite pics from the day taken for PHL17.com.
16. It’s the oldest show of it’s kind. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society began this show as an exhibition in 1829 to introduce the newest plant varieties, garden and design concepts, and sustainable practices. I think of exhibits helping people plant the healthy crops to help them live a ripe old age, well into their 30s! All kidding aside, in our culture, something that people enjoy over a span of 200 years is very rare. (Pictured:1986 Philly Flower Show with Governor Richard Thornburgh. (Courtesy PHS.)
15. Proceeds from the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show benefit the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and its initiatives, including the PHS Plant One Million tree campaign and PHS City Harvest. (You can help too.)
14. Themes! It’s amazing how much more interesting a room the size of 10 football fields filled with flowers gets when you give them a theme. In 2016 the Philadelphia Flower Show’s theme is “National Parks.” (Previous years have included stuff like movies and art or places like Hawaii, France and Great Britain.)
13. Bison Burgers. I came for the flowers, I stayed for the Bison Burger at Smokey Mountain Cafe! In keeping with the theme of National Parks, free-range bison burgers topped the list of trail related food. Just when I thought I would have to eat a plant of some kind.
12. Beer Garden. Can’t eat bison without a beer. Thanks to the fine folks at Stella Artois.
11. Fido Friday! On the Friday of each Philadelphia Flower Show from 6pm-9pm, the convention center welcomes dogs for “Yappy Hour.” Some stipulations apply, but for the most part, if your dog is healthy, he or she can come smell other dogs while you smell the flowers. (Picture: WhiskerBiscuits dog treats.)
10. Park Rangers. While I did not see my personal favorite, Marshall Willenholley, there are real live Park Rangers from National Parks all over the country. They have a Ranger Station and offer kids the chance to become Junior Rangers.
9. There is always amazing art like this piece by Lisa Fedon.
8. Wild Animals! In keeping with the National Park Theme, the exhibits had wild animals made from plants and ferns like this wolf and this fox.
7. In addition to the exhibit portion of the show there are aisles and aisles of vendors. From Garden Tools to Garden Gnomes and everything in between– you will find it there. Two of my favorites were the Wooden Flowers by DM Wooden Flowers and a jeweler, TommyConch.com, that makes jewelry from 19th century buttons and pendants.
6. Mixed in with the vendors and the exhibits you will find great charitable organizations like SarasSmiles.org. After the Burke family lost their daughter to cancer, they set up this organization to make “Care Kits” for kids battling cancer. (Pictured: Jen Burke.)
5. Butterflies. Once again the 2016 Philadelphia Flower Show featured a butterfly exhibit. Dozens of different butterfly varieties get up close and personal with visitors. (It’s on the concourse, not in the main exhibit room).
4. Local Flavor. Each and every year the Philadelphia Flower Show partners with great people, places and things from our great city. This year it was great to see the delicious Di Bruno Bros. on hand.
3. Close Encounters of the Plant Kind. The longer I am at the Flower Show the more my mind starts to wander. I am also a huge movie buff. This year I noticed that there were not one, but two exhibit formations that looked like what Richard Dreyfus built in Close Encounters of the Third Kind!
2. Bargains! With so many vendors at the show it’s a great place to get deals, like picking up some roses for someone special. ( I can’t do this as they now know I only paid $8 bucks!)
1. Even for those of us not into flowers, The Flower Show reminds us all of someone in our lives that is. For me, it’s my grandfather that never missed the Flower Show. My “Grampy” came from a farming family and he loved to talk plants and flowers. When I look out a the sea of white haired people at the show I am reminded of the thousands of conversations he probably enjoyed over the years and it makes me happy. (Pictured: My great grandfather, my grandparents and me.)
So that’s why the Philadelphia Flower Show is a can’t miss opportunity for me every year. The themes change, the exhibits change, but the spirit of the best flower show in the country stays the same. It’s worth the trip even if you’re not so into flowers.