The 188th Philadelphia Flower Show opens to the public today and runs to March 19th. This year’s theme is “Holland: Flowering the World”, celebrating the beauty of the Dutch landscape, the beloved Dutch contributions to the botanical world and highlights the country’s technological advances in green energy, starting with windmills. The show is spectacular. Set on 10 indoor acres, it is the largest indoor flower show in the world. Proceeds from the show support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society urban tree planting programs and City Harvest which grows and supplies food to the underprivileged.
Starting with a rainbow of more than 30 thousand tulips and other bulbs running in carpets, the entrance display recreates the iconic bridges and winding canals of Amsterdam and Delft. Some bridges are covered in Delft tile with lighting changing from day to night. Throughout the week of the show every bulb will be replaced with fresh ones, ensuring that no matter when you come, the show will be at prime viewing enjoyment.
A floating canopy of over 6,000 cut roses, hydrangeas and yarrow hung on 16 miles of precisely cut and color coordinated string conjure the endless flower fields in changing color gradients growing throughout Holland. It is nothing short of spectacular and truly captures the wonder of seeing those miles and miles of flower fields in the Netherlands.
Illuminated windmills, many covered in blooms and underplanted with splashy floral displays capture the imagination throughout the show grounds. Some were functional and life size while others served as garden art the home gardener could duplicate.
Clever bicycle art delights, paying homage to the Dutch bike share program which spurred the world wide movement. At every corner bicycle parts are turned into fountains, flower containers, stylish fences, garden art and cool bridges. Gorgeous floral arrangements are created in bicycle paniers and although the bike theme was very prominent in the show, it brought creative whimsy that was fun to behold and was not overdone.
This retaining wall made out of seashells was a stunner and a nod to the Netherlands’ seaside geography.
Green roofs and vertical wall gardens were inspiring examples of urban and green gardening, some were even planted entirely with edible plants, like lettuce!
Even an alley way with its edgy graffiti art was on display.
Even some PHS volunteers were in their finest Dutch-inspired garden hats!
One of the Netherland’s most famous landscape architects, Nico Wissing, designed a showstopping display of woven willow branches creating a continuous outdoor wonderland of pergolas, benches, hammocks and giant birdnest large enough for humans to snuggle in. Ingenious!
Little Dutch village scenes appeared as charming backdrops in many displays.
Tablescapes were enchanting and spectacular.
The pressed plant artwork was worth a closer look. Entries from around the world were absolutely breathtaking and illustrated scenes from Dutch life. I found it hard to choose just 3 examples to share. Pardon the glare from their glass fronts. Aren’t these amazing?
The orange color of the Dutch royal family was peppered throughout the show in subtle displays. This tablescapes was one of my favorites.
This clever towering tree was created by bunched up fabric/paper/moss and was underplanted with picnic baskets and bicycles overflowing with flower arrangements.
Very modern floral arrangements of Delft blue flowers featured the namesake pottery in decidedly non traditional ways! Did you know the Dutch are leaders in cutting edge modern floral design?
Designers from England, Canada and the US showcased their creativity in designing dozens of floral “fascinators” on the same mannequin heads.
The entrance display was dramatically illuminated for night time as I left, the bright red lights a subtle nod to Amsterdam’s red light district perhaps?
All good things must come to an end and even on the way out of the show, there were dozens of fantastic floral displays such as this one along the corridor of classrooms, restaurants and shops.
Congratulations to PHS organizers and the multitude of talented designers for creating this terrific show. Holland has indeed flowered the world and what a debt of gratitude we owe this wonderful country for the horticultural beauty and innovativeness they have shared with the world. The pictures reallly don’t do the show justice. If you can make it, come and be swept off your feet in person. If you don’t live near Philadelphia, consider travelling to a future show! The 2018 theme has just been announced and will be “Wonders of Water”. The 2018 show will return to the first week of March 3-11. Can’t wait.
Holland: Flowering the World runs to March 19th.