The Business of Beautification:

The Philadelphia Horticultural Society opened their annual Flower show at the Philadelphia Convention center on March 5. In researching what to do with my time in the City, I had come across the Flower show listing. I dismissed the thought thinking, “We have flowers in Boston.” I had visions of kindly grandmother types, middle-aged hippies, brides and endless rows of flowers and garden supply booths.

But instead I was met with an imaginative fantasy world woven with flowers, fabric and jewels. With 33 indoor acres, 10 acres devoted completely to exhibit space and over 250,000 people in attendance, this was not my grandmother’s flower show.

Proceeds help support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s programs, including The Philadelphia Green program. Their work provides technical support and encouragement to thousands of residents, community groups, and public and private agencies working together to transform Philadelphia’s communities and public landscapes into vibrant green spaces. Philadelphia Green is the country’s largest comprehensive urban greening program and serves as a model for similar programs nationwide.

The buzz started almost immediately as soon as I got on the plane. Flanked by a group of self-described flower show groupies as well as coworkers, I got the skinny on years past. I couldn’t be helped but be drawn in when I discovered that designers from all over the country would be interpreting this year’s theme, “Enchanted Spring.A Tribute to Mother Nature”. The buzz continued with the people on the shuttle to my hotel, in the elevator and basically everywhere else I went. Turns out the entire city celebrates “Flower Show Week,” with a citywide series of special dining, shopping and event offers, all centered around the Flower Show theme. The Cities top hotels offer packages to Flower show guests and the events are mirrored from restaurants to shop windows.

The Goddess of Nature is the highest of the displays greeting you as you walk into the expansive room. It is surrounded by artistic interpretations of the four elements as well as the four seasons by the finest florists and landscape designers. Horticultural competitions, culinary demonstrations, an internationally renowned lecture series, as well as a marketplace of garden gifts, gadgets, and supplies provide background to the spectical of the displays.

There was something for everyone from children staring in wonder, to the grownups comparing blooms and plant care, to display construction. It is the largest annual indoor flower show in the world, as well as the Guinness World Record holder for,The Longest Running Horticultural Show and Earliest Documented Horticultural Show Founded in 1827 the show is celebrating its 177 year.

Consistent with the apparent commitment on the part of Philadelphians to beautification in general, public art projects are peppered through out the city. The Mural Arts Project ( takes the blank facades of buildings and turns them into canvases for the youth of the city. Public art projects are peppered through out the city proving that art is not just for the museums.

For more information visit the Flower Show website at