I’m in Philadelphia for the British invasion! Yes, you heard me right; the English have arrived on our shores once again — not by boat but by flower!

Gates of the Royal Palace offer an over-the-top floral welcome to the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Gates of the Royal Palace offer an over-the-top floral welcome to the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Grand entrance of birch allee and Big Ben.

Grand entrance of birch allee and Big Ben.

Beginning tomorrow at its 11:00 a.m. opening, the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show will be “Brilliant!” The show, inspired by the creative genius of Great Britain, pays tribute to both the cultural icons of England and its continuing influence on garden design.

Yesterday evening I joined other garden writers and photographers for a sneak peek at this year’s show and will return again in a few hours to see if exhibitors can pull it all together before tonight’s Black Tie Preview Party.

It was quite extraordinary to be led into the 10-acre exhibition hall in my red hardhat for an insider’s look at the construction of the show. A few exhibits were in their final form, but many were in the early stages of development.

Though my photos don’t quite capture the chaos, small cranes and tractors ruled the floor, while bulky boxes of plants and 5-gallon buckets of cut flowers were everywhere. The room was incredibly cold to maintain floral freshness (my fingers and toes were ice long before the end of the tour), but despite the frigid temperature the heady fragrance of blooms filled the vast hall.

Every detail complete at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Every detail complete at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

White Wedding under construction.

White Wedding under construction.

After the tour, Alan Jaffe, PHS Communications Director, hosted a light dinner at the Convention Center. Sam Lemheney, PHS Senior Vice President of Shows and Events, provided an overview of the creation of this year’s show, spilling the beans that the idea for “Brilliant!” stemmed from a creative brainstorming session in London over a few pints. Many thanks to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for their kind hospitality.

The special media event sponsored by PHS was also an opportunity to reconnect with garden writer friends such as Kirk Brown, aka John Bartram at the recent GGMG symposium, and Charlotte Kidd, fellow writer for The National Gardening Association. I made a few new friends too, including Steve Whysall of Vancouver, Canada. Be sure to catch Steve’s blog for The Vancouver Sun and also stay tuned here for more news on the latest British incursion.

That's all for now from groovy London, baby!

That’s all for now from groovy London, baby!

22 thoughts on “Brilliant!

  1. Ruth and Durden Collins

    Wow, Marian. . . and we thought we were the ones in England! Looks like great fun. Would love to see more pictures please.

    1. Marian St.Clair

      Jane–(1) wear your most comfortable shoes, (2) make sure you see every single thing, (3) reward yourself with a treat from The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company at the Reading Terminal Market. My favorite is the dipped shortbread cookie.

  2. Jane Potero-Motto

    Attended this show many times, it is extraordinary. Wish I were joining you. The white wedding looks so clean and fresh.


    Hey, Mr Tea here!! Awsome post, I have just started a tea blog called Lovely Tea
    Teas, would you mind if I link to this post? I have already shared on my Facebook.
    I will make sure I post a link back to you! Thanks


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