The Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates the movies

Robin Heller’s display for the weeklong Philadelphia Flower Show, touted as the world’s largest and oldest indoor flower show, includes more rats than you might imagine.

The theme for this year’s show is Celebrate the Movies. Heller’s shop, Flowers By David, is participating for the 19th time.

The display conjures “Ratatouille,” with flowers woven into scenes of sewers, a kitchen, a restaurant, an 11-foot-tall lit-up Eiffel Tower and plenty of plush rodents.

“We like to have a sense of humor — we consider ourselves the stand-up comics of the horticultural world,” jokes Heller, who owns the Langhorne, Pennsylvania, shop with her husband, David.

The couple looks forward to the show, which attracts 260,000 visitors, because it gives them a chance to go bigger than the usual client requests.

“None of our clients are going to order something that’s $1,000 for an arrangement,” she says, “but here we get to play.”

Expert tips

Want to brighten up a dreary winter day with colorful blooms? Here are three things to keep in mind at the florist.

• Buy local: “Always buy flowers from a Real Local Florist,” says Heller (referring to a florist organization). “They have access to the freshest, widest variety and can suggest flowers that might suit the occasion.”

• Don’t stick with the same old: “Never be afraid to try something new — it might become your new favorite!” she says.

• Black is not chic when it comes to flora: “Avoid any flowers that look brown or shriveled,” Heller warns. “Foliage should not be discolored, brown or black.”

What’s in season

You can buy a bouquet of any flowers you have your heart set on, any time of year — but it’s not going to be cheap.

“Some things — like peonies — you’ll get a better value on in May and June,” Heller says. “But if you want them now, we can get them.”

On the snowy East Coast, Heller’s shop is filled with sunflowers, roses and lilies from Ecuador, protea from California, and mini amaryllis from Canada.

But if you prefer to stick with season-appropriate (and less expensive) choices, Heller says go for tulips: “Tulips are in full flush. This is tulip season.”

Q&A:What advice would you give for creating a flower arrangement?

“The best advice is to work clean!” Heller says. “Clean container, clean knife or scissors, clean water. Remove all foliage below the water level and keep changing the water. It will double the life of your floral purchase.”

If you go

PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

Feb. 28 to March 8
PennsylvaniaConvention Center
12th and Arch streets
$27 until Feb. 27,$30 Feb. 28 and after,
Proceeds supportthe Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, particularly its City Harvest program.

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