“United by Flowers” at the 2024 Philadelphia Flower Show

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The Entrance Garden’s pond at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's 2024 Philadelphia Flower Show.

A few dashes of yellow beamed out of the frosty ground at Rittenhouse Square as the daffodils — the welcoming committee for spring — made their presence known on the foggy morning I set out for the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Some of the many animal sculptures in Rittenhouse Square.

Across town at the Pennsylvania Convention Center flower enthusiasts in their hundreds of thousands made their presence known too-jockeying for photos, albeit respectfully.

Thanks to the Pa. Horticultural Society’s inaugural Philadelphia Flower Show, the American public was introduced to the poinsettia and the chrysanthemum.

This year’s theme was “United by Flowers” and indeed a community of flower children it was. From the young, like the kids scurrying around in their handmade floral crowns, to the not so young (like me), we all were there in a communal appreciation of beauty and nature.

As one of the show’s presenters put it “the horticulturist, the gardener is an individual who loves their home, their community. This passion for family is what unites us.”

The largest floral extravaganza since it started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the show charms guests with floral art installations, sometimes with political and environmental subtexts, across acres of floor space.

The main attraction is always the show’s Entrance Garden, and this year it had a water theme. A giant pond reflected a riot of pinks and purples suspended from the ceiling. A mini forest of pastel-hued trees created a wall of sublime beauty behind it. I was walking into an enchanted world-a world where flowers are the fairy tale princesses.

A few exhibitors stood out: Jennifer Designs from New Jersey featured a floral road trip complete with a giant map of the country and a convertible boasting the license plate “Bloom USA.”

Jennifer Designs had a road trip theme …

Black Girl Florists played on the unity theme with their beauty shop concept, recognizing the place of gathering-the hair salon-where women support each other.

Beauty salon concept by Black Girl Florists.
Heart design by Emy Custom Flowers.

Ribbon winners from Horticulture Competition:

Staghorn Fern by Leslie Ann Miller.
Amaryllis by Janet Peterman.
Orchid by Bayard Saraduke.
Cactus by Deb Donaldson.

The official bouquet of the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Selections from the Tulip Garden …

After gawking at the installations, I went over to the butterfly tent where wisps of wonder flew from shoulder to shoulder, or in my case, onto my baseball cap.

Under the Butterfly Tent …

Staci Zobaski and Tiffany Mukerjee.
A future Horticulturalist.

The next day, despite the continuance of dampness and grey skies, I went to Longwood Gardens, the vast estate of the late Pierre du Pont, right outside the city.

The tulips were breaching the ground there too, and the conservatory delighted guests with its “Winter Wonderland” — a showcase of the property’s vast collection of orchids and amaryllis.

Scenes from the Conservatory of Longwood Gardens …

As winter clings, the sights and comforts of the season ahead sing.

Tulips making their debut for spring at Longwood Gardens.

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