Philadelphia Flower Show: Almost Two Centuries Old, Still Going Strong
The Philadelphia Flower Show, the nation’s largest indoor flower show, opened its doors March 2 for the 185th year, and visitors from all over the world experienced 10 acres of floral fantasy.
This year’s theme was “Brilliant!” That’s not an opinion, it comes from the British word for something that’s inventive, dazzling, extraordinary. As in, “that hat you are wearing is brilliant!”
As you can imagine, a show that’s run for this length of time has seen its share of boom times and lean years.
Stephanie Policastro, communications specialist for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, said, “Although the economy has seen its ups and downs, The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show has continued to grow in attendance for the past three consecutive years; and the 2013 Show is on track to surpass the 2012 guest attendance of 270,000.”
An extra day was added to the show this year so that it now includes two full weekends.
“In recent years the show has had a $61 million economic impact on the Greater Philadelphia area,” said Drew Becker, President of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
He added, “Extending its run will increase that impact by boosting retail and restaurant business and hotel stays throughout the region.”
Through special events such as the LGBT Party and Girls Night Out, they are attracting a younger and diverse crowd. Even men are drawn to the show through a new addition this year, The Backyard, a space where grilling, lawn care and recreation are the focus of attention.
One visitor at the show, Bob Cameron, was there to get information on living walls to take back to China where he will be teaching.
This almost two-century-old organization is anything but old school. They are actively using the Web and social media tools to market their event.
“For the first time this year, the Flower Show is using Instagram as a way to share photos from the Show and to see, share, and comment on the fun times had by our visitors,” Policastro said.
She added, “PHS … also has a robust Pinterest account with boards that celebrate British culture, showcase unusual plants, provide flower-arranging advice and more.”
They are keeping in touch with show attendees, exhibitors and special guests through Twitter and Facebook. This allows them to answer guest questions and promote special events and attractions.
“It is important to us to build a community of people who are passionate about plants and have made the Flower Show an annual tradition,” Policastro said.
Also new to the Flower Show this year is the “New Plant Showcase”, featuring recently developed varieties of flowers and plants by internationally acclaimed growers and the “Make and Take” workshops, which gives visitors a chance to create and take home their own creative projects.
James Coplestone, with Wonderland Bronze out of Dorset, England, is a new exhibitor at the Flower Show.
“U.S. citizens visiting the Chelsea Flower Show advised me to come here,” she said. “It’s been a very positive experience. I sold the Mad Hatter sculpture the very first day.” Wonderland Bronze is part of “The Mad Tea Party” exhibit, along with florist Petals Lane.
As Chris Demalta with EP Henry watched the crowd gathered around his exhibit -“A Tranquil Garden Comes to Life!”- he said, “the show has been great. Attendees are positive and ready for spring.”