By Stephanie Cavanaugh
THE TULIPS and daffodils are beginning to poke up as midwinter slithers into spring. This has been the strangest of winters, scarcely there, at least around here.
While the North and West have been pummeled with snows and storms, the Washington DC area has been dancing along. A cha-cha perhaps, two steps ahead, three back.
The last big bang of cold was around Christmas, the only big chill really. Enough to fell the tenderest plants I experimented with leaving to the elements this year—thankfully, I took cuttings, which have so far survived.
This kind of weather leaves me itchy for spring. You too? The weatherpersons continue to call for unseasonably mild temperatures and sunny days, yet it’s four weeks until March goes out like a lamb, and weeks more before the flowering trees and bulbs dazzle forth. It’s just too early to plant a damn thing.
What solace then are botanic gardens and flower shows, places to plot a course for April, which will be here in a blink. Or two.
After several Covid-related years in Philadelphia’s Eisenhower Park, the Grandmama of all US flower shows, the Philadelphia Flower Show, is back at the Philadelphia Convention Center, March 4-12. Borrowing from the best of the outdoors, without the worry about unseemly weather, the show promises to feature some of the biggest gardens built in the event’s 200-year history, some up to 2,900 square feet.
“This year, we’re working hard to create a cohesive and fully immersive experience for show attendees,” said Seth Pearsoll, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s creative director, at a press conference. “Design choices are intentionally being made to mimic the feel of being outdoors in nature by creating larger displays that surround guests.”
The entrance, always smack-you-on-the-nose fantastic, will feature “a 360-degree world of unique floral pairings, textures, light, fragrance, and vibrant colors,” said the PHS in a press release. “Guests will experience a jolt of floral magic that celebrates that unique feeling of awe, excitement, and celebration that one experiences when encountering majestic beauty.”
Instead of the usual mob crowding up to the ropes to view a flowery tableau (while tripping over wheelchairs and double-wide baby buggies), a winding path will lead through the gardens. There will also, of course, be the usual displays and floral design contests, among them: window boxes (my personal favorite), flower arrangements, orchids, and botanical jewelry.
And the Marketplace will feature more than 100 vendors with plants, tools, and ornaments. Yes, it’s once again time to pick up one of those Hawaiian plumeria sticks, which they swear turn into plants of intoxicating fragrance. This has yet to happen for me. But buying one here—and failing—has become de rigueur.
Click here for tickets.