Imagine a wonderland bursting with flowers, fountains and waterfalls. Blossoms hang from the ceiling; rain showers fall to dancing puddles at your feet. Scents from orchids and flowering vines tickle your nose, while bamboo rustles above your head. Mist and fog cools your skin. No, this is not a rainforest, though it’s as close you can get in downtown Philadelphia. What you’ve entered is the fairy-tale landscape of the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show inside the Philadelphia Convention Center. These magical creations are just a few of the many breathtaking exhibits you’ll interact with during this annual event.
The 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show runs from Saturday, March 3 through Sunday, March 11. Developed by the Philadelphia Horticulture Society, the annual show is the largest and longest running horticultural event in the world, displaying more than 30,000 flowers; 6,000 that are suspended from a giant floral canopy. The Philadelphia Convention Center is transformed into ten acres of extravagant displays, botanical crafts and eco-gardening demonstrations.
Philadelphia Flower Show 2018
The 2018 theme is Wonders of Water so it sounds like it’s going to be quite a show! Here’s a preview from the site: “America’s leading floral and garden designers will create tropical jungles, temperate forests, native woodlands and arid landscapes, showcasing plants that thrive in each environment, from exquisite orchids and flowering vines to luminescent desert blooms.”
To give you a sense of this unique and unforgettable experience, I included photos from the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show. Last year the theme was Holland, so there were lots of windmills, bridges and bicycles decked out in unique ways. Capturing the spirit of an Amsterdam city scape, you saw (and smelled) cherry trees, sycamores, tulips, hyacinth, narcissus, anemones and daffodils. Flowers hung from the ceiling and exploded from the heads of statues. Innovations in music and lighting play a prominent role in these stunning installations. The fragrant scent of millions of flowers creates an otherworldly intoxication.
Along with the stunning installations, visitors can tour the World Market to shop for bulbs or planters; watch floral design demonstrations and visit the Pop-Up Beer Garden. The market also sells gardening related tools, crafts and home decor. There’s even a spa tent where you can enjoy a massage, make your own oils and sip a glass of wine. Kids will enjoy the Butterflies Live exhibit.
Through this annual event, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society raises more than one million dollars that support the Society’s LandCare program. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, LandCare builds and maintains community gardens, as well as plants trees and landscapes all over the city, including empty lots. The beautification of Philadelphia is the result; a city full of inspiring murals and urban farms in neighborhoods that decades ago suffered from urban blight. Read more about the show here.
Longwood Gardens has a Year-round Indoor Garden
Every spring, the city and surrounding counties of Philadelphia transform into a cacophony of blooms. The city’s nickname is America’s Garden Capital, because there are 30 renowned gardens spread across the city. One garden that blooms all year long is located just outside the city in Chester County—the renowned Longwood Gardens. Longwood’s landscape designers and architects recently completed a $90 million dollar renovation of its outdoor water features and will begin their daily shows in late May. Currently, the exhibits inside the huge Conservatory and Solarium feature colorful orchids. While you’re there, don’t miss dining at the 1906 Terrace Restaurant, and order the mushroom soup, their signature dish.
Where to Eat in Philly
A fabulous town for gardening enthusiasts, the many farm to table restaurants take advantage of abundant produce and products raised at nearby Pennsylvania farms. Philadelphia is a serious foodie town, and always has been. For decades the number one restaurant in the world was located here.
Today, Philly chefs are more adventurous and free to create their own take on international cuisine. They’re moving into neighborhoods and infusing new life into them. One example is Noord Eetcafe in East Passyunk, a Scandinavian restaurant with clever plays on smoked fish, root vegetables and all kinds of seafood. Joncarl Lachman, the chef-owner of Noord, prepares sauces and accompaniments of caviar and fresh herbs that will make you sit up and take notice of every bite. Then there’s the historic suburban town of Chestnut Hill with its destination eatery, Mica Restaurant. The young chef Yianni Arhontoulis was trained at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and serves an unique six course tasting menu. Yianni takes traditional American dishes and elevates them.
Both Mica and Noord restaurants are BYOB style, which makes it easier to save money when dining out and put your focus on the food where, in this case, it belongs.
Closer to Center City, try the incredible Double Knot (if you can get in). This hipster restaurant and bar is serving some of the most imaginative and best tasting food and cocktails seen in Philly or elsewhere. Taking their inspiration from Japan, the izakaya small plates pack a powerful punch for both their artistry and flavor.
Of course, don’t miss a visit to Reading Terminal Market for an extravaganza of fabulous food stalls! It’s the perfect place to grab a bite when you go to the Flower Show because it’s right across the street!
Where to Stay
If you want to attend the Philadelphia for the Flower Show plan to book your hotel in advance (right away). I recommend the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, which is across the street from the Flower Show. If you can’t make it for the Flower Show, a trip to Philly is always an excellent destination for museum, garden and food lovers. Read my post about touring Philly’s historic sights, museums and art galleries.
Travelers should check out my new book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Washington DC on Amazon. It makes a great gift for people who love nature and gardens.