the philadelphia flower show (finally) goes outside

My husband was a good sport and got up early on a Saturday to go to The Philadelphia Flower Show. I loved that it was outside and more like a British show but there is still room for improvement because it was an expensive jaunt.

We paid for parking ahead of time and we parked in one of the Citizens Bank Park lots and took a shuttle into the show grounds at FDR Park. It was the least hassle for a Philadelphia event that I can remember in forever. And I just love the Philadelphia Trolley Company trollies anyway – like the ones we used to rent for First Friday Main Line except these had air conditioning.

It. Was. Hot. (and buggy – mosquitoes and flying ants – and both BIT)


It was pretty easy getting in. I will admit I have no idea how they are going to make people stick to the timed slots that everyone paid for because it’s not like when we went in we got a specially colored wristband or anything.

There are lots of people around to help you and answer questions one of the things that I found as a deterrent for the people using umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun because they had zero concept of watching out for people around them.

I was glad we had our COVID19 shots because it was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be. That did give me pause after all of this time. Oh and the ladies rooms are those ladies rooms in trailers like I saw them use for the Chester County Day tour a couple of years ago. So I have to admit I really like that because there was like a normal size sink where you could wash your hands and use sanitizer and hand soap etc. and they were clean.

I had paid for us to have the picnic lunch for two only I didn’t get what I ordered. What they gave us was fine, it just wasn’t what I ordered online initially.

There are a bunch of places serving alcohol like beer tents and whatever that are of no interest to me because too many years as a beach tagger decades ago made me see too many fools pass out in the heat from alcohol. I did see some 20 somethings who were pretty stupid by 11 o’clock in the morning and I hope they drank as much water as beer and margaritas or whatever it was that they were drinking.

Very interesting people watching. I always like the juxtaposition of the women that look like they’re right out of Main Line old school gardening clubs meets the woman from South Philadelphia who was arguing loudly with her mother outside of one of the displays. And there were some young things (and old) who really should have had bras on under their slightly see through tops and dresses.

I loved seeing the BloomBox guys and Peony’s Envy and Valley Forge Flowers – yes I bought some peonies and another straw hat from VFF that was easier to shoot photos in while wearing. A couple of people must’ve thought I was being paid by the flower show to take photos because they stopped and posed for me which cracked me up!

The bugs were kind of a problem I wasn’t expecting those and I should have anticipated this given that this park has natural water sources and features. If you go down, I would definitely make sure you give yourself a spritz with bug spray before you go in. And bring the sunscreen!


I really, really love this outdoor format I hope they do it again but still the one thing I think they need to work on is more displays, fewer vendors. Some of the vendors really don’t have anything much to do with gardening and I think for a flower show it should be predominantly about the garden or your outside space. And the way it was organized didn’t work as well in reality as it did on paper, which I think is normal when you are trying a new way of doing things.


And can we talk about the people with the patio furniture who had this whole big display set up under like this pergola thing with seats that you could not sit in? They literally had signs that said do not sit here. They had a big display and it was kind of in the center of things, only you couldn’t even sit on the furniture to try it out. I get they didn’t want people sitting on their temporary garden walls, but the seats? They were actual garden seating. Whoever they were I would never buy furniture or whatever from them for just that reason.


I did not like ALL of the displays I saw that were entered. Some of them seemed very cartoonish to me and that wasn’t about nature. Like the pink sticks. Not found in nature. Ever. Unless Mother Nature is running around with pink spray-paint.


Yes, it is going to be a warm week, but if you have the time to go to the flower show I really hope you do because I think it is so much better than it was in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. If it returns to the convention center, I will not return personally. I have hated the flower show in that space for years. FDR Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who was one of the designers of New York City’s Central Park. It’s a wonderful park with natural water sources. I even saw Baltimore Orioles in that park on Saturday!

Check it out and let me know what you think and if you were inspired. I actually was inspired! What inspired me were the planting combinations in the containers everywhere, and the little narrow spits of sidewalk gardens exhibited have inspired me to plant one more flower bed.

Happy gardening!

2 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing, Carla. It looked very interesting but very different. Would you say there were fewer flowers? Have fun gardening! Marilyn Lavelle

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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    • Yes and no. I think there was less overall in part because we’re coming out of Covid. But I think that if garden designers and exhibitors can get it together for Chelsea flower show and all the other things having to do with the RHS which are outside every summer, surely gardeners in the US can get it together to make a good outdoor flower show in Philadelphia.

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