Jan 19, 2024 - News

Philly Flower Show organizers say we are "United by Flowers"

Rendering of the entrance garden at the 2024 Philadelphia Flower Show.

A rendering of the entrance garden at the 2024 Philadelphia Flower Show. Rendering: Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The Philadelphia Flower Show embraces the idea that flowers are the centerpiece of our existence.

Driving the news: The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) unveiled artistic renderings of this year's show during a news conference Friday morning.

  • Event organizers discussed plans for more educational "master classes" from some of the world's most innovative landscape architects, horticulturists and florists.

Why it matters: The theme of the 195th show, which returns home to the Philadelphia Convention Center from March 2-10 for the second straight year following a brief hiatus, is "United by Flowers." It's a meditation on the power of the petal to bring Americans together at a time when they feel most disconnected.

What they're saying: "It's all of these interesting people from around the world, from amateur to professional, from the best in the world to 'I have a brown thumb, but I like to look at it,'" Seth Pearsoll, the show's creative director, tells Axios. "Flowers really are this massive unifying thing across cultures, across times."

By the numbers: The Flower Show, a regional extravaganza that draws about a quarter million visitors each year and $60 million in tourism to the city, costs about $8 million to produce, per PHS spokesperson Sin Gogolak.

  • Hundreds of thousands of flowers and rare, exotic plants are trucked in from across the Mid-Atlantic region and assembled into a stunning array of displays.
  • Gogolak says attendance last year was about 185,000, an improvement from the outdoor pandemic-era shows.
  • The Flower Show is PHS' biggest annual fundraiser, typically generating about $1 million in revenue.

The intrigue: This year, visitors will be greeted by an enchanting entrance garden boasting the show's biggest body of water.

  • It'll have a glass-like centerpiece and be adorned with hanging floral clouds and polished mirrored surfaces.
A rendering of artist Kelly Norris'  exhibit, "A Beautiful Disturbance."
A rendering of Kelly Norris' exhibit. Rendering: Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Details: There'll be a mix of new and returning exhibitors, including Kelly Norris, an esteemed Midwest author whose work has appeared in the New York Times and Martha Stewart Living.

  • Norris' exhibit, "A Beautiful Disturbance," is an abandoned lot reinvigorated into a "cosmopolitan" city garden "convening humans and nature," per event organizers.
  • Pearsoll describes Norris and returning exhibitor Apiary Studio, famous for refashioning urban decay, as among a "vanguard of gardeners" who understand traditional influences but also incorporate styles for "future-facing worlds."
  • Apiary's exhibit, "Right of Way," reimagines America's highways into a "garden without a gardener."

What's new(er): Organizers refocused this year on enhancing their "Know to Grow" educational offerings. One of the sessions will be led by Mike Gibson, a self-taught Black landscaper and leading topiarist in the vein of Pearl Fryar.

  • Plus, the 21+ dance party "Flowers After Hours" on March 9 in front of the entrance garden has a cult following with its "own gravity," Pearsoll says.

If you go: Tickets start at $49.99 for adults and a variety of discounts are available.

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