Philadelphians will be transported to the Netherlands next month when the Philadelphia Flower Show sets up shop with a display of 30,000 flowers, the North American debut of a massive Dutch sustainability project, and a brand-new species of tulip named for the City of Brotherly Love.
This year's show, with a "Holland: Flowering the World" theme, will run from March 11 to 19 at the Convention Center — a week later than usual, to try to bypass the snowstorms that have plagued the show in years past.
Guests can expect a show packed with spring-flowering bulbs, especially the Netherlands' famous tulips, with displays that will fill up 10 acres of the center's floor. Exhibits will explore aspects of Dutch life that include canals, bicycles, and, naturally, windmills.
About 6,000 blooms will be featured in an overhead floral canopy — a first for the Flower Show, the world's largest and longest-running exhibition of its kind. To enter, visitors will pass under the canopy and over a flower-box-lined, tiled brick bridge that recalls the look of Amsterdam, setting the event's Dutch tone.
About 20,000 bulbs were planted around the city this fall by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which runs the Flower Show as its biggest annual fund-raiser. Those bulbs, PHS president Matt Rader said Wednesday, will bloom after the Flower Show's conclusion.
The big attraction is the Dutch Ecodome — a 70- by 30-foot geodesic sphere highlighting the Netherlands' commitment to green technology -- which will make its North American debut at the Flower Show. Designed by Dutch architect Nico Wissing a decade ago, the Ecodome was constructed last year and features a number of green technologies, including solar energy, rainwater collection, carbon dioxide-absorbing paving, and vertical green walls.
"It will help us to tell that Holland is tulips and clogs, but not only tulips," said the Netherlands' deputy chief of mission, Joanneke Balfoort. "Tulips are very beautiful, as you will see at the Flower Show, but Holland is so much more than this annual blossom."
A new species of tulip, which was created in Lisse, Netherlands, through decades of development, will be unveiled at the Flower Show's preview party March 10 — as will its official, Philadelphia-inspired name.
More than 180 garden-goods vendors will be in the Flower Show Marketplace, while the Grand Hall will host a Dutch Shopping Village, a pop-up beer garden, and a railway garden with a Dutch theme. This year also marks the debut of the Garden Spa, which will provide massages and DIY essential oils and potpourri.
Mayor Kenney, who spoke at Wednesday's news conference, took the opportunity to take a jab at the tumultuous political landscape:
"I'm thankful Holland is not on the travel-ban list," Kenney said. "I think that the civilizing, equitable, sustainable, loving attitude of the Dutch will permeate the city and make our immigrants feel a little safer, a little more appreciated."
Last year's show, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, drew 255,000 visitors (the highest number since 2012, when 270,000 attended the Hawaii-themed show) and won 20 international awards for excellence at the International Festival and Events Association's Pinnacle Awards in 2016.