Philadelphia Flower Show Gives A Dose Of Spring Fever

By Kathleen Harvey, AAP Columnist

As I write this month’s column, I am recovering from the worst case of the flu I have had in recent memory. Three weeks of coughing, sneezing, and other discomforts have left me tired, weak, and grumpy. Now that I am finally starting to feel a bit better, a different kind of fever begins to creep into my soul: spring fever. My gardening tools have been cleaned, oiled, and sharpened; seeds have been started. I am impatient to get back outside, bask in the sun, breathe the fresh air.

Even though spring isn’t quite here yet, we can get a taste of things to come. This month, the Philadelphia Convention Center will be overtaken by nurseries, men, women, and gardeners of all ages who will transform it into a gardener’s paradise. This year, the Flower Show is being held Saturday, March 11 through Sunday, March 19. This year’s show, titled “Holland: Flowering the World,” celebrates the flowers, art, culture and landscape architecture of this region.

The Flower Show will showcase the extraordinary plants, creativity, and talent of this region’s top horticulturists and designers, along with award winning landscape and floral designers from the Netherlands. From towering windmills, wooden shoes, and delectable cheeses, to the whimsical bicycles, canals, and vibrant tulip fields of the iconic Dutch landscape, the 2017 Flower Show will share the diverse stories of horticulture, innovative eco-design, and modern urban greening and sustainability efforts of the Netherlands.

Designers spend more than a year planning, primping, pruning, and growing plants for the exhibits that will transform an empty space into a beautiful oasis of color, fragrance, and life in the waning days of winter. Their commitment to excellence is evident in creative, inspiring presentations and in the diversity of beautiful plants that are lovingly coaxed into bloom in March.

The Flower Show is an essential experience for horticulturalists and plant geeks of all kinds, attracting 250,000 visitors annually to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, a showcase dating back to 1829. Major groups of exhibits include full scale landscapes, flower arrangements, art, miniatures, and the Horticourt, where hobbyists display individual plants lovingly groomed to be their best. A separate market place, adjacent to the show, contains all types of plants, bulbs, tools, even cut flowers to feed your spring fever.

Proceeds from the Flower Show benefit the year-round programs of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that have become national models of urban greening, including City Harvest, which creates green jobs and supports a network of community gardens that raise fresh produce for families in need.

This year will be my 22nd consecutive year exhibiting and volunteering at the show. Each year, I carefully grow, feed, pamper, and groom my plants, selecting only the best to exhibit. As one of over 3,000 volunteers who help to set up and tear down the show, this means short nights and long days working at the Convention Center. Whether you are an experienced gardener, or a novice who just wants a taste of spring, nothing beats the cacophony of color, and fresh scent of flowers, trees, earth, and mulch that assault your senses as you walk through the door. It always gives me a serious case of spring fever, but without the need for cold medications!

For more information about the Philadelphia Flower Show, visit

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