The Philadelphia Flower Show is going tropical in a major way this year — a much-needed break from the snowstorms and icy sidewalks the city has had to deal with this year.
How major? A shifting rain curtain will guide visitors past ponds filled with fish and tropical plants — including heliconias and anthuriums — and across a suspended rope bridge to a 25-foot-tall bamboo waterfall, framed by ferns, foxtail palms, and white Birds of Paradise. There will be 4,000 plants in the entrance garden alone, making it one of the most diverse at a Flower Show yet.
This year's water-themed Flower Show will run from March 3 to 11 at the Convention Center. Tickets, which are on sale online, increased a dollar in price from last year to $29.95 for adults, $20 for students ages 17 to 24, and $17 for children ages 2 to 16 if purchased before March 1. Tickets purchased online during show week will cost $32 on weekdays and $35 on weekends for adults, $22 on weekdays and $24 on weekends for students, and $17 for children. Purchasing tickets on site will cost $35 on weekdays and $40 on weekends for adults, $24 on weekdays and $26 on weekends for students, and $19 on weekdays and $20 on weekends for children.
"We're truly lucky to have the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society as an ally to create a greener and healthier city," Mayor Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday morning at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Center City. "This event brings over 250,000 visitors a year and allows them to see the best of the Philadelphia."
"Wonders of Water," this year's theme, will display the relationship between water and horticulture through a wide selection of plants, from vibrant desert blooms to delicate orchids and lush flowering vines. The displays, designed by the country's leading garden designers, are inspired by temperate forests, tropical rain forests, native woodlands, and desert landscapes.
"This year, we're going to have one of the largest collection of plants ever amassed at the show," Sam Lemheney, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society chief of show and events, said at the news conference. "We're also going to highlight ways that people can involve water in their own yards and gardens."
Visitors can find tips on outdoor living and conservation in home gardens at a new exhibit, "The Backyard." They will also be able to craft their own mini-water gardens, floral headpieces and succulent planters in the "Make and Take" workshop, and interact with thousands of colorful butterflies in "Butterflies Live."
This year, the William Penn Foundation awarded the Horticultural Society a grant to build an exhibit that shows how plant systems sustain the Delaware River Watershed through marshes, streams, fields, and mountains. Leading environmental and industry experts will also speak about water issues and solutions during the all-day Water Summit on March 7, a gathering of multidisciplinary water visionaries, including former NASA astronaut Mary Ellen Weber. Tickets to the Water Summit cost $75 until Feb. 8. After that, tickets go up to $100.
"We were very excited to become involved once we found out the theme of this year's show was water," Shawn McCaney, the executive director of the William Penn Foundation, said. "Although the secret reason why we support the Flower Show is because it makes spring come faster."