If you’ve spent any considerable time around these parts, you know the Philadelphia Flower Show’s deal: A gardening and design showcase dating back to 1829, it’s an iconic part of the city’s fabric, an unofficial opening ceremony to spring in the city. Maybe you’ve had your tickets for weeks. Maybe you’re considering swinging by. Maybe you think this is the year you get out of it. (That’s adorable — check with your mom before making other plans this weekend.) Either way, you’re more than likely going. Here’s why we’re excited for this year’s show.
Things have changed quite a bit since your grandmother dragged you around the perennial exhibits in the ’80s. After hiking the Flower Show Trail, little ones can earn their Junior Ranger badges and attend an official swearing-in ceremony. On March 13, bring your own teddy bear for a pinkies-up family tea party (reservations required) and pay a visit to special guest Thomas the Tank Engine at the Railway Garden, a new attraction that includes large-scale model trains.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: During peak times, the Flower Show is an absolute madhouse. Do yourself a favor and visit on the off hours or, even better, reserve an early morning tour. Led by Flower Show experts before doors open to the general public, it’s well-worth the splurge and will totally earn you favorite-child status.
If you can get past the fact that butterflies are essentially zombie worm bugs, Butterflies Live! is a can’t-miss educational opportunity for the whole family. Featuring more than 1,000 butterflies, the heated exhibit includes opportunities to feed and interact with 20 domestic and exotic species, many of which are endangered as natural habitats are destroyed.
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Whether you just want a bouquet to take home or have some serious spring shopping to do, the Flower Show’s marketplace is packed with local vendors offering everything from bulbs to plants, tools to trimmings. Before you pass it by, ask yourself this: Do you really want to visit Home Depot’s nursery again? Think about those anemic impatiens before answering.
It’s for a good cause
Proceeds from the Flower Show benefit the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and go right into improving our own backyard. Programs such as the Plant One Million tree campaign and City Harvest, which provides locally grown produce to families in need, are just two of its initiatives to make our city a more beautiful, healthy and enjoyable place to call home.