PFS 2021: From flowers to food, here’s what to check out

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The time has come finally for the annual Philadelphia Flower Show, and with a later start date and a new concept for the venue, it’s safe to say that this year’s show is going to be one to remember.

The local show has gained recognition around the country and the world in years past and is now officially known as the nation’s largest and the world’s longest-running horticultural event, and in 2021, the festivities are being held outdoors at FDR Park.

The venue itself is situated adjacent to the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and is accessible to major highways and mass transit. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has worked this year to offer a space that incorporates natural elements with the vendors and showcases, which also helps stick with the theme, Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece. Typically held indoors in March, those who head to this year’s Flower Show will now have the opportunity to explore 15 transformed acres of FDR Park. Also, FDR’s remaining 348 acres will still have its amenities open and is accessible to the public during the Flower Show dates.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Those dates span from now through June 13. FDR Park, a registered historical district, was built to the design of Olmsted Brothers, the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and John Charles Olmsted in the early 20th century and was also an easy choice when the PFS was looking for venues. The design of walkable pathways, naturally exalted trees and views made FDR Park an organic partner aligned already with what the Flower Show is already known for: The show has been named “Best Event” by the International Festivals and Events Association and “Best of the Best” by the American Bus Association (for the fifth consecutive year) in 2020-2021.

Already Philadelphians have flocked to the event over opening weekend. But for those who are still interested in checking out what the show has to offer, there are some highlighted opportunities to get the most out of your visit to the floral paradise.

For one, this year will feature the most designers, gardens, and floral displays in the show’s history, with over 75 unique installations for guests to see and interact with. According to a release, 2021’s showcase is full of exhibits, activities, and open space (a 45% increase from previous Flower Shows held inside the Philadelphia Convention Center). Each year, the show contributes a beautiful kickoff to the spring growing season and provides an important economic impact on the region of more than $62 million. An increased footprint in 2021 is intentional, as the Flower Show seeks to offer new experiences for its audience, while also adhering to best practices regarding social distancing.

Vendor-wise, Philadelphians can expect a play on the theme with booths exploring the beauty of life through nature’s kaleidoscopic of a lens. The website states that visitors should be ready to see exceptional beauty, learn from a diverse line-up of designers and leading horticulturalists, and enter a new gardener-centric experience that invites everyone at all skill levels to nurture a lifelong connection to plants and gardening.

One new exhibit comes from Jeff Leatham, the Artistic Director for Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. Leatham’s exhibit (located in the Design District at the Olmsted Pavillion) is described as a combination of his love for flowers, people, and design. His creations are bold statements—using shape, color and simplicity to produce a dramatic effect. Down in the Gardeners District, another exhibit comes from the PHS’ Gardeners Green. This particular exhibit takes visitors on a journey through multiple garden “habitats” —from a formal kitchen garden with parterre-style beds, to espalier fruit-tree tunnels, to an edible landscape, to a greenhouse overflowing with seedlings. Gardening experts will be on hand at the exhibit daily as well to offer any tips, tricks and expertise.

Refugia Design’s exhibit is also located in the Design District and features an exhibition highlighting ecological landscape design with sustainable practices and materials such as a permeable driveway and extended living space for an office/study. Other notable exhibits come from Bloom Box, The Mütter Museum, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Hartley Botanics, Longwood Gardens, Nomad Studio and plenty more.

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With everything you have to check out, it can be easy to work up an appetite. According to the release, through a blend of culinary artistry, local flavors, and floral-inspired cuisine, Spectra and Brûlée Catering have joined forces with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to incorporate a wide variety of food and beverage options into the Philadelphia Flower Show experience this year. Guests may enjoy a picnic under the trees, admire FDR Park’s beautiful architecture from a table in the Beer Garden grove, locate their favorite local vendor in the Food Bazaar, or overlook the lake as they share an expertly prepared meal in the Boathouse restaurant.

Highlights include: The Blume Village Food Court which will feature an Alpine Style Food Court with German fare just like at LOVE Park’s Christmas Village; the Food Bazaar serving multiple walk-up options; a “sweet tooth’s paradise” in the Design District featuring Ben and Jerry’s and Rita’s, as well as coffee and classic Italian desserts from Philadelphia Eats, or old-fashioned popcorn and boardwalk candy from Boardwalk Specials and much more.

A few additional things to note from the release: Attendees must reserve a date and time of visit for all tickets purchased. Tickets are limited. Show admission, membership, special events, tours and packages are available for purchase via the PHS website and early purchase is recommended. PHS members enjoy special entry privileges since members provide needed funds to advance PHS’s impact year-round through a variety of efforts that create health and wellness throughout the region. Membership includes a variety of ticket offers, such as ticket discounts or complimentary admission during special preview hours.

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For more information on this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, visit phsonline.org

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