A fragrant breath of springtime welcomes visitors to the 1992 Philadelphia Flower Show, which opens next Sunday for a week's run at the Philadelphia Civic Center.
Popular the world over, the show attracted over 200,000 visitors last year from all over the country and abroad. It is the oldest, most prestigious garden show in the United States and the largest indoor horticultural exhibition in the world.
This year's theme, "Horizons For Discovery," celebrates gardening in America with more than 50 landscape exhibits representing the diversity of gardens across the continent. There will also be information on plant genetics, the latest technological development and newest hybrids.
The show's centerpiece pays tribute to the American Southwest. As you enter the exhibit area, you walk through a blooming cactus garden and into a Southwestern town, where a bell tower chimes in the square. Here you find adobe structures with terra-cotta roofs, music from a lively cantina, and a potter and weaver at work in the open-air shops.
The path continues through six acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. Stop at Miss Julia's Garden, a mid-1800s garden in Lexington, Miss. Here old roses line the walkway leading to the old-fashioned porch with Victorian gingerbread trim. Memories of childhood are evoked by the Secret Garden within a walled enclosure. There's also a scene right out of a book of nursery rhymes, in which a topiary Humpty Dumpty takes tea in a treehouse as the cow jumps over the moon. You encounter more magic in a stroll through a moonlit garden filled with luminescent blooms, flowering trees and crescent-shaped pools, and come upon an Italian villa garden, where roses and wisteria climb the walls, and the scents of lavender and honeysuckle permeate the air.
Another important part of the show is the horticultural competition. Some 1,700 entries are judged, in categories ranging from massive flower arrangements to thimble-sized ones, window boxes, miniature rooms, bonsai and table settings. Amateur gardeners looking for advice can have their questions answered by the experts or attend the free lectures and demonstrations offered daily by top designers and horticulturists. Food is available at several cafeterias and snack bars.
Show hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Sundays. Admission is $10.50 for adults; $5.25 for children under 12. Proceeds are used to support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's outreach programs, including Philadelphia Green, a comprehensive community gardening program involving more than 700 community groups.
The Philadelphia Civic Center is at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard. For information, call (215) 625-8253.
The London Town Publik House in Edgewater will present "Tavern Day" next Sunday. The old ferry tavern will be filled with Colonial characters: itinerant craftsmen setting up shop, travelers waiting for the ferry, and residents of London Town catching up on the latest gossip. Through role-playing and hands-on demonstrations, visitors will be able to experience life in a river port tavern during Colonial times, when taverns were the hub of the community.
Innkeeper William Brown, builder of the 1758 Publik House, will welcome guests to his tavern from noon to 4 p.m. Other role-players include a doctor of "physick and surgery," who will treat town residents for a variety of ills; a musician who plays an 18th century stringed instrument called a laute, and a leather craftsman who gives demonstrations and talks about his craft.
This year's program focuses on the production of cloth and the various tasks involved in making clothes in the 18th century. The Anne Arundel County Hand-Spinners Guild will demonstrate the art of spinning and will bring with them live sheep and Angora rabbits to provide the raw material for the demonstrations. Guests will have an opportunity to participate in the various tasks. There will also be traditional refreshments including mulled and chilled Publik House punch.
Admission is $4.50 for adults; $4 for seniors; $2.50 for children. Residents of Anne Arundel County receive a $1 discount.
To reach the London Town Publik House, follow state Route 2 south of Annapolis across the South River bridge. At the second stoplight turn left on Mayo Road. Continue to the next stoplight and turn left on Londontown Road and drive to its end. For information, call (410) 222-1919.
Charter Day celebrates the granting of the Colonial charter by King Charles II to William Penn, and next Sunday museums and historic sites throughout Pennsylvania will offer free admission from noon to 5 p.m. in honor of the occasion.