The Philadelphia Flower Show is in bloom

February 28, 2013 3:42:05 AM PST
Lots of people say the first robin says "Spring" to them. Others want to see the first burst of green in their yard. But Philadelphia has a long history of ignoring the calendar and making Spring arrive the first week in March.

This year will be no exception as the Philadelphia Flower Show takes over the Convention Center this weekend.

This year's theme is "Brilliant!", a tribute to the gardens of Great Britain. Historians would tell you that British gardens and Philadelphia have a long, shared history. Back in colonial times, John Bartram built an estate we can still visit in Southwest Philadelphia.

While he laid out British-style gardens, he populated them with Pennsylvania plants, and then proceeded to ship our native species back across the Atlantic. Designers of this year's show spent time in England doing research.

They note that Britons are enthusiastic gardeners, beautifying even small spaces with plant life. You'll see this sense of creativity when you visit the show.

You'll also see the designers' tribute to London's Big Ben...a three-story high tower complete with electronic special effects that will flash LED lights and chime every hour on the hour.

The tower is surrounded by lush gardens, populated by plants raised at the society's own farm in Montgomery County.

PHS may build the central exhibit and its gardens, but does not compete with outside exhibitors for prizes. While the show is always dazzling, there's much more to see and do.

Professional experts are joined by hundreds of volunteers who can answer any gardening question you might have.

PHS also operates a store at the show, where you may buy plants to take home. You can even get free advice on how to protect them in these closing weeks of winter and make sure they'll bloom in your garden in the months ahead.

Part of the spectacle at the Flower Show each year combines art with science. Experts have been working since last summer to acquire and raise plants, then manipulate them with light and changing temperatures so they're at their mid-season best this week.

Each exhibitor will tend displays constantly, changing out plant life that might be fading. While that takes place at least once a day, there's also a major change-out at mid-week so visitors each day will be assured they're seeing the show in all its glory.

You might wonder what happens to the plants after the show closes. PHS sends its plants back to Meadowbrook Farm ,where society members will enjoy a "yard sale: of sorts on Saturday, March 16. Plants from the show will be sold to members at what amount to discount prices.

Handled properly, they should adjust their "body clocks" and revive to bloom in your garden this summer. For more information about the Flower Show, visit its website.

You'll find details there on the show itself, on tickets, directions, accommodations, and special promotions. Thanks to out-of-town visitors, the show is often more crowded during the day. So a visit after dinner might be wise if you can swing it.

There are also special promotional evening events, all detailed on the website.

Tickets are also available in person at Acme Markets, Giant Food Stores, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Boscov's, the Sugar House casino, and at SEPTA retail locations.

In prior years, the Flower Show began on the first Saturday in March with a VIP preview, but that was moved to this week.

The show opens to the public on Saturday, March 2, and runs daily through Sunday, March 10, Hours are 11:00am to 9:30pm on Saturday, March 2; 8:00am to 9:30pm on Sunday, March 3; 10:00am to 9:30pm Monday through Friday, March 4-8; *;00am to 9:30pm on Saturday, March 9; and 8:00am to 6:00pm on Sunday, March 10.

For information about Meadowbrook Farm, access the website.