I could hardly believe my eyes and ears when I arrived for the PHS Member’s Opening of the Philadelphia Flower Show at 12 noon on Friday. Just 18 hours earlier the 10 acre hall had been a riot of bustling activity and tooting horns, but now every detail was in place and classical music greeted visitors at the Royal Gate.
That is, until the clock struck 12 and Big Ben launched into its light and music show, a five minute video montage that roared to life with the Beatles “All We Need is Love,” and then flashed through an animated photo of the Royal Family and a dozen or more British TV and Pop icons from Twiggy to Monty Python. It was just the jolt of energy needed to put a smile on my face and spring in my step.
Good thing, too, as I spent the next 3 and a half hours on my feet, jostling along with thousands of PHS members seeing the exhibits for the first time.
There was plenty to excite. The Philly Show does a fabulous job of juxtaposing all the essential elements, from over-the-top floral displays, to incredible gardens and a myriad of competitive arts. There were juried flower arrangements, mailboxes, window boxes, stylized dresses, and doorway gardens, just to name a few. And Hamilton Horticort, with nearly 6,000 home-grown plants vying for ribbons, was the most impressive horticulture battle I’ve ever witnessed.
Surprisingly, my three favorite displays were floral exhibits, not gardens. They included “Proper Hodgepodge” by Robertson’s Flowers, a five-piece roundabout that showcased a 60’s Mod Gala, a Medieval Feast, a Wartime Pottager, a Royal Tea Party, and a Storybook Wedding. I also adored “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” by Petals Lane, and was blown away by “Pure Britain,” a contemporary white wedding by Pure Design.
I also particularly enjoyed the high school and college displays. It was a thrill to talk to these young horticulturists about their exhibits and to hear their future plans. (More on this topic in a later post.)
Today, the show opens to the public and programs of all kinds begin in earnest. There is both a Designer’s Studio and a Gardener’s Studio within the exhibit hall for hands-on presentations, as well as a handful of nearby lecture rooms for PowerPoint programs.
Sadly, I’ll only see a few of these before it’s time for me the head home. But Philly has been filled with flowers, fun, and friends, and I’m eager to sleep in my own bed for a couple nights before the next big adventure.
Two final notes:
First, I’m sharing additional photos on my Face Book page so join me there if you like. Just friend “Marian StClair” (no punctuation within name).
And finally, if you’re as besotted with the UK as I am, think about joining me on my September trip to Southern England. The tour features the best gardens of the region, including Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, and RHS Wisley, as well as historic sites such as Jane Austen’s House & Museum and Churchill’s Chartwell Estate. Find details here.