The nearly two century-old annual tradition was the very first public flower show in America.
The 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show – the country’s largest and longest running indoor flower show – will have a decidedly European flair as some of the world’s most esteemed floral and landscape designers build displays around the theme “Riviera Holiday.” The Principality of Monaco will also play a unique role, sponsoring the show’s first Biodiversity Symposium and supporting an exhibit honoring the late Princess Grace, a Philadelphia native. The show opens to the public February 29 and runs through March 8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center with 350 exhibitors from around the world stretched out across 10 acres.
Exhibits this year include a Santorini-inspired garden that will blend non-invasive plants native to the Mediterranean with plants native to the U.S. and Pennsylvania; a display showcasing native plants from the South of France, including olive and cypress trees, herbs and several varieties of lavender; a contemplative garden nestled in an old orchard in the Andalusia region of Spain that will include a beehive and focus on the important role honeybees play in food crop production; an exhibit inspired by the lost city of Pompei featuring plants used for food, medicine and religious purposes; and an abstract exhibit addressing the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean region.
A tulip-heavy display harkening back to the “Tulip Mania” market of 1600s Holland will include a “Couleur Cardinal” dating from the mid-1800s and a Columbine from 1929. At the market’s 1637 peak, some single market bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual average salary of a skilled craftsman. Look for floral arrangements that imitate the appearance of Impressionist paintings along with items for sale from the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators featuring art honoring sun-loving plants.
What to expect at this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show:
• More than 4,000 butterflies are in the Butterfly Live exhibit.
• The annual “Fido Friday” event – to be held this year on March 6 – with more than 300 dogs at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
• Tu Bloom, who is the official floral designer of the Grammy Awards, hosts the show’s “Potting Parties,” classes on container gardening.
• The “Gardening for Biodiversity Symposium sponsored by the Prince Albert II Foundation,” a one-day event featuring discussions on environmental issues and lessons for those who want to conserve and foster biodiversity through accessible gardening techniques and plant choices. The keynote speaker is botanist/environmentalist Peter Raven, recipient of the National Geographic 2018 Hubbard Medal and Time magazine’s 2015 “Hero of the Planet.”
• The “Princess Grace Rose Garden” sponsored by the Embassy of Monaco and featuring Grimaldi family rose varieties and a replica of Princess Grace’s wedding dress. Born Grace Kelly in Philadelphia in 1929, Princess Grace was an Academy Award-winning actress before marrying Monaco’s Prince Rainier in 1956. She was a well-known lover of flowers, founding the Garden Club of Monaco in 1978 and co-authoring “My Book of Flowers” with an Australian journalist in 1980. She returned to Philadelphia in 1976 to serve as a Philadelphia Flower Show judge. Prince Albert II has purchased her childhood home in the East Falls neighborhood. It a private residence with tours by appointment only.
• The Bloomin’ Brunch will be offered twice daily during the show including a 3-course meal of salad, quiche and dessert. A vegan menu is available.
• An early morning photography tour and workshop and a guided evening tour.
The non-profit Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has held the Philadelphia Flower Show since 1829. The event regularly attracts about 250,000 attendees from across the globe and raises $1 million for PHS programs that promote sustainability and advance health and well-being. The Philadelphia Flower Show won a silver Grand Pinnacle Award at the 2019 International Festival & Events Association awards in its category ($3M+), finishing second to Australia’s Destination NSW. This makes the Philadelphia Flower Show the best event in North America. Tied for third place were the Kentucky Derby Festival and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.