Enjoy paradise, Philly: Hawaiian flowers bloom at Flower Show

Less than a month after the Pennsylvania Convention Center was filled with gleaming futuristic automobiles slowly spinning on bright white rotating pedestals, it has undergone another stunning translation.

The 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show, themed “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha,” has overgrown the Convention Center with a tropical plant canopy, floral volcanoes, bamboo — and technology. The city’s largest annual tourist draw, which is expected to attract 300,000 visitors this week, opened to the public yesterday.

Visitors entered through a hall of wavy arches bearing videos of undulating water, passing fish and floating clouds into a veritable rainforest of 25-foot-high waterfalls, volcanoes made of flowers and pristine beaches.

“These flowers are just so absolutely lovely, it makes you think of paradise,” visitor Mia Bird said. “Everyone wants to get away — this is like an oasis. … It’s wonderful because a lot of people will never get to Hawaii, and this is bringing Hawaii to Philly.”

But not all patrons were Philadelphians, nor were they all there simply to enjoy the scenery.

“We’re actually growers looking for ideas,” said landscaper Steve Cheadle of Long Island, N.Y. “We grow perennials, unique annuals and some nursery-style plants. What struck us was the quality of everything — you can see this kind of stuff in trade shows and craft markets; but here, everything is much, much more high quality.”

As in recent years, the show also gives many digital ways to enjoy the exhibits. The new Flower Show App is the platform for voting on the show’s best creations. Described as “‘Iron Chef’ with flowers instead of frying pans,” by a PHS release, professionals will judge three creations daily, though the winner will ultimately be chosen by audience members.

Your starring role

The Flower Show has several new interactive features:

The Designer’s Studio:?A showcase with floral arrangers, growers and other experts demonstrating how to create the trendiest designs for the home, as well as for special events.

The “Man Cave”: A home theater with a projection screen measuring nearly 100 inches that will air Flyers, Sixers and NCAA Conference Tournament games in digital surround sound. Also includes virtual competitions from “Tiger Woods PSA Tour” video game and poker and blackjack with professional dealers sponsored by SugarHouse.

World’s largest lettuce wall: A 9-foot-wide, 40-foot-tall hydroponically grown wall featuring six varieties of lettuce stands next to a wall of herbs and that includes 30 vegetables on the walls and in pots, bucket and boots.

Culinary demonstrations: “Organic Gardening,” teaches viewers recipes and how to pickle, preserve and freeze items from their garden.

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