Day trip: Philadelphia Flower Show

Exhibits provide a tour de France for garden lovers

  • Poster for the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show, Springtime in Paris, which will be held March 6-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Poster for the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show,… (Handout Photo, THE MORNING…)
March 04, 2011|By Irene Kraft, Tribune Newspapers

Feeling a little winter-weary? Escape from the season of snow and ice to a refreshing look at spring at "Springtime in Paris," the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show that begins today at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Featured in "1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die," Philly's flower show is a must-see for flower and garden lovers. Each year, at least 60 florists, professional landscapers and horticultural and educational organizations create breathtaking, full-scale gardens and floral displays. Many have taken as long as 18 months to prepare. The designers must be skilled at forcing a large variety of plants to bloom in time for the show and at keeping them blooming throughout the week.

Visitors to the show will see everything from tulips and rhododendron to orchids and succulents growing lushly in displays filling the 10-acre showroom. Each of the main exhibits captures an aspect of France, from its food and intimate cafes to the Champs-Elysees and Tour de France.

When visitors walk through the door, the show's gardens, cafes, parks and floral displays will transport them to Paris' romantic, stylish streets. There's a colorful Parisian park and the fragrance of lilacs, roses and thousands of tulips growing beneath a glittering 33-foot-high arch of the Eiffel Tower. Topiary animals, including a peacock, unicorn, ostrich and butterfly, lead to a Carousel Stage, where French cancan dancers and cabaret singers will present daily performances.

Among the impressive exhibits is "Underground Paris." The American Institute of Floral Designers explores the subterranean space below bustling Parisian streets that is now home to urban culture and creativity, including art, music and writing. It transports visitors from historic underground catacombs of avant-garde art to a floral wonderland, using themes from the Parisian tunnels serving as inspiring backdrops. Its art installations are recreated with flowers.

The Philadelphia Horticultural Society, which produces the show, will have a "green" exhibit that will provide inspiration and guidance if you want to become involved in the greening of your own community. It will feature a country-chic vegetable garden that offers interactive demonstrations on growing favorite as well as newer varieties.

As always, the show offers a feast for the mind as well as the eyes, by offering education through more than 150 free presentations and instructional displays, presented by experts and designers who will focus on the newest gardening trends.

And, of course, you'll be able to purchase some of the materials needed to duplicate these trends at the Marketplace, where vendors will offer everything from plants to handmade objects of art.

New this year are theme nights, including Young Professional's Night on Tuesday that offers networking and cocktails; Happy Hour and Restaurant Discount Night on Wednesday that joins forces with local restaurants offering deals; and Girl's Night Out on Thursday, when a goodie bag, food, drink and free samples are on the agenda.

If you go

Philadelphia International Flower Show, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch streets, Philadelphia. Named "Springtime in Paris," it features gardens and floral display by at least 60 florists, professional landscapers and horticultural and educational organizations. Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. today and March 13, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. March 12. Best hours for viewing are after 4 p.m.

Admission: Adult: $30 (opening day), $26 Monday-Friday and $28 March 12 and 13 (closing weekend). Student, $20, and child, $15.

Parking: About 8,000 well-lit parking spaces within four blocks of the center. See theflowershow.com for parking map.

Info: 215-988-8899 (recorded) or theflowershow.com.

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