the philadelphia flower show: favorites

by Grace Bonney

after a short road trip down to philly, amy and i were happy to check out our very first philadephia flower show. i wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but i figured we would be surrounded by walls of flowers and engulfed in the smell of all things green. in that respect, we certainly weren’t disappointed, but i think we both came away feeling that perhaps the garden/floral style we both love hadn’t really found a home at the show yet (or at least not this year). there were definitely a few booths that we really enjoyed (like the shipping containers above and below), but overall i think we both longed for something a bit more rustic, wild, and organic (we ended up driving down to terrain for lunch to satisfy that need). so if my photo coverage of the show is a bit on the light side, that’s why. that said, i wanted to share our favorites from the show in this post, starting with these incredible shipping containers.

the moda botanica designers from philadelphia created our favorite part of the show, hands down. they filled industrial shipping containers with a dizzying array of succulents, orchids, and walls of flowers i couldn’t even begin to identify they were so lush and beautiful. amy and i really loved the contrast between the delicate flowers and the rough, rusty containers, and particularly enjoyed the dining scene they set up in one container. the designers used simple wooden pallets (which they filled with moss and succulents) to create a gorgeous dining table. the tables were topped by a reflective surface that really highlighted the beautiful combination of silvery purple roses and succulents. it was such a dramatic display and was the first- and most striking thing- we really show at the show.

CLICK HERE for more images from the philadelphia flower show after the jump!

more beautiful shipping container flowers from moda botanica. the overhead lights made it tough to nail the shots and colors properly, so my apologies for the cruddy shots.

tulips, tulips, and more tulips! the dutch tulip display was really gorgeous- i especially loved the yellow and red sides. ;)

i’m so mad i didn’t catch that this was off-focus while i was still at the show, but ugh, ce la vie. i loved this sweet nesting herb planter on top of a bright blue cafe table and chairs.

i’m always a sucker for industrial materials used in garden design. so this little display of cement structures filled with lush, leggy greenery stole my heart.

a tree made entirely of white orchids. enough said. GORG-EOUS.

a wall of cups inside the philly convention center…

bummed that we couldn’t find the sort of loose, wild flowers and plants we love, amy and i drove a few extra miles south of philly to have lunch and immerse ourselves in greenery at terrain. i would live in that cafe if i could.

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  • i love this grace! seriously, old stuff+gorgeous flowers. what an inspired combination. i wish i’d seen it in person. plus the shipping containers..wow. sounds like quite an installation.

  • Thanks for the sneak peak inside this crazy event. It looks like there could be a lot of weird over the top stuff going on there, but a few inspiring sights nonetheless. Now I am dying to go to Terrain. And to a flower show. Googling for flower shows on the West Coast.

  • how did i miss the shipping containers? we were totally overwhelmed and dissapointed by the spectacle that we bolted after an hour or so. i didn’t even get a chance to get my picture taken in front of the hot air balloon…

    • sarah

      whew. glad we weren’t the only ones. i appreciated the hard work that went into everything there, but it just wasn’t our style. but those shipping containers were pretty rad. as were the cute boys in the david austin roses booth ;)

      hope you guys had fun in philly,


  • my 2 faves (besides the modo containers!) the anthropology-like display of vases hanging from a grate with invisible wires and the rooftop deck installation with green/growing walls, solar paneled pergola, waterfall walls, bed, & couches….yum.

  • I went to the philly show last year for the first time. As a floral designer and (amateur) photographer I was soo pumped!

    I left exhausted from pushing crowds away from my belly (i was 8 months preggo) with no good photo shots and only saw one or two inspirational displays in the floral design field (so sad) !

    i didnt make the 1 1/2 hr trip this year . i would recommend it though to people OUTSIDE of the floral/ design field. they would be inspired!

  • we went after 6PM on a schoolnight leaving the 4 kids at home with a sitter ~ & it was not too crowded. we had a glass of wine and walked around just loving the sight of anything flowering after such a winter….worth the price of admission!

  • I know the show can be overwhelming but if you ever have the chance to go early in the morning on a week day, especially the Monday, you’ll have a lot less people to contend with and you can start to appreciate some of the details. I actually thought the show was really good this year but I got to see it without any crowds. My favorite part is always the “HortCourt” where people bring specimum plants in for judging so you get to see some really unusual and cool plants all in one place. I did really love the Moda shipping containers display. I stood in front of if for nearly 15 minutes, just taking it all in.

    If anyone wants to see more pictures (including a not-blury one of the nested succulent boxes with blue charis :-) ), feel free to check out some of mine: http://pgjennielove.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/philadelphia-flower-show/

  • The flower show was awesome. It was great to see the shots. The Polar Fantasy exhibit (not shown here..sniff) got picked up by Fusion Flowers magazine out of Europe, so it could not have been THAT 90’s. Fusion does not feature floral design unless its cutting edge. The Philly Flower Show rocks, all of it.

    • jodi

      i certainly have to disagree that the show rocked- especially all of it. i thought that polar fantasy exhibit was sad– there were fake flowers in there, right? at least that’s what the lady in the booth said. it looked like a can of white spray paint exploded inside the section. blech.


  • There were NO fake flowers in that Polar Fantasy exhibit, so wrong.

    It actually won 2 awards from the PHS. Every flower was absolutely fresh. PHS would have never ever given them a single award if it was not. Whoever the lady in the booth was, she misinformed you and did not know what she was talking about. I can guarantee you she was not affiliated with the company that produced it or she would have never said such a thing.

    Kris Kratt and Bill Schaffer were the designers who produced it.

    All of the show rocks, even interpretations of traditional gardens. (yawn…) Why? Where else in the world can you see living plants and flowers on that scale under one roof?

    Artistic merit varies, but the effort and scale of the endeavor at PHS rocks. I stand by my statement, and by the endeavor of Schaffer Designs (very fresh and very real)

    • jodi

      it’s clear you’re a fan of their booth. i’m afraid i’m not. the whole thing just read tacky to me. however, i’m very glad to hear the flowers weren’t fake. that said, the whole show felt pretty dated to me. i was hoping for something fresh and innovative and really only got that from the shipping container booth. yes, it’s great to see that many plants under one roof, but when 3/4 of it failed to move me, i left feeling pretty disappointed.


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