It’s back – and outdoors. From June 5-13, the Philadelphia Flower Show will be held at FDR Park in South Philadelphia. It’s the first time in the show’s 193-year history that the event will be held outdoors, an accommodation made to comply with COVID mitigation efforts.
Rescheduled from March to June, this year’s show is its biggest in size and number of exhibitors. FDR Park’s 15 acres are being transformed into 75 installations and open space. That’s 45 percent more room than the Flower Show has in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, its regular home.
Moving the show outdoors and to June, which is high season for landscapers, presented opportunities and challenges to horticulturists. Tom Morris, operations manager of J. Downend Landscaping in Crum Lynne, has participated in the Flower Show for 11 years, but admitted that this year has been a juggling act. “We’re working seven days a week, putting in a tremendous amount of overtime,” Morris said.
On the plus side, the later date gave exhibitors extra time to create their displays, and they can utilize the outdoor environment. “We’re not having to force the plants to bloom earlier,” said Leah Palmer, public relations and social media manager of Star Roses and Plants in West Grove. “The plants are already in great condition.”
The outdoor environs will present the flowers in their best light and at the height of their blooms, a situation that enticed Donald Pell of Donald Pell Gardens to participate. This will be the first time that the Phoenixville landscaper artist participates in the Flower Show. “I didn’t like the light, I didn’t like having to force everything,” he says about the Philadelphia Convention Center, where the show was previously held. “It feels wild, and yet designed, all at the same time,” Pell said.
Pell, an advocate of New American Gardening, says the outdoors is where his plants should be. They depend on natural rainfall and are free of chemical fertilizers. “We fight the chemicals tooth and nail” Pell says.
Knockout roses will be one of the highlights of the show. Star Roses and Plants is including them in displays in a new form: Petit Knockouts. J. Downend is including double pink knockout roses along with salmiana and other white flowers.
Changes are in store for attendees, too. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance. PHS’s website has detailed information about
tickets, parking and public transportation options.