Held outdoors for the first time in its 193 year history, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Flower Show debuted with an explosion of color and large-scale architectural floral installations at FDR Park in Philadelphia. Where nature meets architecture, or Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece, is the overall theme and will be held June 4 through June 13 and is a great day trip post-COVID.
FDR Park – a registered historical district – is composed of several lakes and wetlands, historical buildings, baseball fields, recreational areas, and is known as one of the best places in Philadelphia for bird watching – mainly waterfowl. Designed by Olmstead, famed American landscape architect, the grounds is also home to the Swedish American Museum, which was a unexpected nice surprise.
Traditionally held at the Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia in late February and early March, June is at the height of the gardening season presents visitors with an entirely new palette of plants. Bulbs, spring flowering trees, and other forced perennials were on view in March, but changing the venue and time of year opened up new opportunities for more expansive layouts and horticultural varieties.
Offering new more seasonal experiences, low maintenance native plants, and increased diversity of plants were the most welcome change for me. Salvias, Penstemons, Lavender, Alliums, and other natives were in full bloom.
Spanning 15 acres of FDRs 300+ acres, Jeff Leatham, Artistic Director of the Four Seasons Hotel in Paris, creations are well known for his bold statements-using color, shape, and simplicity to produce a dramatic effect. Exploring the beauty of life through nature’s kaleidoscope, there are 29 signature, large scale floral and garden exhibits that premiered.
Featuring three unique districts- Design, Plant, and Garden – that focus on the gardening interests of enthusiasts at all skill levels, there were also lots of themed food and beverage options that were absent at the Convention Center. Since the show is so big, I never felt crowded or rushed. But with the onset of a thunderstorm, I had to run for shelter – a downside of any outdoor venue. But the show goes on, rain or shine, and the planners looked at Farmers Almanacs to find the summer week with the least precipitation. But the weather was very hot and humid and I was glad for any shade!
An increase of 45% of space from previous Convention shows, a full day can easily be spent strolling through the exhibits and shopping the garden-related vendors. Boasting more garden displays – 75- more than any other year, many people thought that there were too many vendors and not enough displays. But I think it was a factor of being so spread out in FDR Park.
Inside the plant district, you’ll find a curated version of the Horticourt, the show’s annual competition that features prized plants of local gardeners and apartment windowsill tenders. Plants in their prime are displayed individually, designed to inspire and educate you about what you can grow in your own home.
Windowsills, balconies, miniature settings, terrariums, and botanical illustration was on display at the Hamilton Horticourt in a large tent, where many people went when it rained. There was a much smaller selection o exhibits from previous years because of space constraints.
I am a beekeeper, so of course I gravitated to this display by Renee Tucci on honeybees.