The Philadelphia Flower Show

A week ago, I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This event is put on by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to raise money for education and urban gardening initiatives. The event was comprised of a few different areas, the most prominent being the themed exhibits made by different groups under the year’s theme. This year, the theme was “Lights, Cameras, BLOOM!”, a nod to Disney and Pixar movies. The designers come from around the world and have only five days to create their gardens and displays.

Some of the designs were a little disappointing because I couldn’t tell what each movie was supposed to be, and I feel like some of the designers only had a vague idea of what the movies were about. For example, the Cars exhibit could have made the form of a car out of red roses, but it just had some junk yard accessories in the garden. Many were very good, the Cinderella display was impressive and beautiful, but it didn’t have as many plants as I’d have liked to see. The Nightmare Before Christmas one was very cute, but the coolest part was everything other than the placement of the plants. Many were nice, but I think my idea of what could have been done was either too complicated or too involved to be pulled off.

The next section we went to was the Butterfly room where we got to skip the line because we’re members of the Horticultural Society. By the time we got there, the nectar had run dry; the butterflies had visitors poking them with cotton swabs of food since 8 and we got there by noon. This didn’t stop the crowds from harassing the poor insects, many of whom decided to hide in unreachable areas. I would, if I were a butterfly being smacked in the face by tourists.

I tried desperately to get a photo of a Blue Morpho Butterfly, but the two they had spent their time narrowly escaping the clutches of children (and adults) who did not understand how butterflies work. They don’t want cuddles or attention. I managed to get one to hang out on my finger after offering it to him politely. Yellow Butterfly remained on my pointer finger for about 15 minutes until I got sick of having him and pushed him off. I was disappointed I couldn’t get more photos, but I was fighting against throngs of people with similar objectives. One family lifted their daughter to the roof, Simba-style and she had the honor to have the bugs land all over her body. Maybe they thought she smelled really great. Maybe they thought she was a flower. I was a little annoyed by similar groups of people who obsessively crowded under the spots the ‘flies gathered, because it was impossible to get closer. Overall, I really enjoyed this feature; it was bigger than the butterfly room in the Natural Science Museum in DC, and also cheaper.

Finally, there were individual plants and terrariums that were submitted for a contest held by the PHS. I wasn’t sure I would like looking through rows and rows of potted plants, but this ended up being one of the most fun parts of the show. Some of the flowers and succulents were impressive, and other plants were so exotic, I had never seen anything like them before.

The terrariums were all impressive and some of the flower arrangements (in another area of the show) were pretty, if tacky. There was every variety of succulent present, which made me want to start my windowsill garden and curio collection display. What may have been the best part of this section was the lack of crowd. We were there almost all day and by the end, my dogwoods were barking. I bought some air plants and a collection of AMAZING Marimo Balls.

Here are the treasures I came home with! The Marimo Balls are really cool, it’s an algae native to Northern Japan that grows into spheres, naturally. They don’t need much care, just clean water, cool temperatures, and only a little sunlight. They look like little tribbles to me, but I’m also partial to plants that don’t really look the way you’d expect them to. That’s why I also got five air plants, one of which had a baby hanging off of it, which recently grew a new leaf after only a week of being here. I hope to add more strange and unusual plants to my collection, but this is a great start.

After the show, we found a wonderful restaurant in Chinatown called Dim Sum Garden where we got all of the dumplings. I really wouldn’t have minded getting one of each kind to take home with us. It was really fantastic, the dumplings were made right when we ordered and every variety came with at least 5 dumplings. We ate like kings and spent next to no money.

What kinds of plants do you readers like? Does anyone have suggestions about how to take care of my bouncy balls or air plants?

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