ABOVE PHOTO: One of several floral installations featured at Monday’s preview. (Photo/ Pennsylvania Horticultural Society)
By Amy V. Simmons
The early spring morning filled with abundant sunshine and warm temperatures had all the components of what Philadelphians and other garden enthusiasts deem traditional “Philadelphia Flower Show weather” — not too hot, not too cold.
It was the perfect backdrop to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) press preview and others a sneak peek of what to expect in June. The 2022 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will take place outdoors for the second time in its almost 200-year history at FDR Park in South Philadelphia from June 11 -19, 2022. The organization released its schedule of events and discussed some exhibit details and new design plans for this year’s show. The show’s theme is “In Full Bloom.”
Last year, the coronavirus pandemic necessitated a major change to the popular event, which meant breaking tradition by not only moving it from March to June, but outdoors as well. The current uncertainty surrounding unpredictable COVID-19 surges, combined with the popularity of last year’s show, sealed the deal.
Show planners took on board all feedback from last year’s event, including some constructive criticism, and are focused on enhancing the guest experience in 2022, said Nicholas Gerace, PHS director of event production and operations.
Misters, water refill stations and additional shaded seating areas will be on hand should there be a repeat of the unseaonably warm temperatures that plagued last year’s show, he said.
“Last year was a big learning curve,” Gerace said. “I think the second year outdoors will be a better experience for everybody overall.”
A strong focus on the connection of nature to a healthy mind, body and spirit is the overarching message at the center of this year’s show theme.
“This year, we have interpreted what it means to be ‘In Full Bloom’ both figuratively and literally. Guests will experience floral and garden exhibits at the peak of seasonal perfection crafted by award-winning designers while also learning how gardening can contribute to their lives. With new activities, family friendly spaces, and superb dining experiences, this year’s Show will have something for everyone to enjoy,” said Sam Lemheney, PHS chief of shows and events.
If there is one unifying factor surrounding the Philadelphia Flower Show, especially for area residents, it is happy family memories — something which Kortney Cruz, Independence Blue Cross vice president of sales and marketing-Medicare, is well acquainted with.
“My parents brought my sister and I — I will admit, as kids, kicking and screaming — every year to visit the Flower Show and it was a family tradition,” Cruz told attendees. “We’d come to the Flower Show, we’d get to cannolis as a treat on the way home to make us happy, and it just became a part of who we are.
It is a tradition she has continued with her husband and children, she said.
Independence Blue Cross is one of this year’s Flower Show sponsors, along with Bank of America, Subaru of America, AARP, ACME Markets, Bartlett Tree Experts, Belgard, Green Mountain Energy, STIHL, Fine Wine & Good Spirits, and Ketel One Botanical.
This year’s exhibitors will include landscape architect Martha Schwartz, a Forbes 2021 “50 Under 50” recipient, and the Philadelphia based David Rubin Land Collective, a landscape architecture and urban design studio committed to emphasizing socially purposeful design strategies.
In addition, Wambui Ippolito, the noted landscape designer and one of Veranda magazine’s 2021 “Eleven Revolutionary Female Landscape Designers and Architects You Should Know” will return to this year’s Show to defend her 2021 Flower Show trophy for “Best in Show” with another showstopping display.
Returning this year will be The Marketplace, featuring more than 100 vendors offering unique gardening wares, plants, supplies, branded merchandise, and more; the interactive “Butterflies Live!” exhibit featuring hundreds of spectacular, native butterflies with an updated structure and beautiful pollinator garden component and the popular Flower Show Potting Parties, container gardening workshops hosted by designer Tu Bloom and sponsored by Subaru. There is a $5.00 admission charge. Family Frolic — tailored to young families where people of all ages can participate in a variety of floral, gardening, and craft activities, watch live music performances, and take in the sights of the Flower Show — will be held on June 19, Father’s Day, and is free with admission.
Some new additions to this year’s show include the interactive Kids Cocoon & Play Space, featuring daily curated programming for children such as story times and gardening-inspired crafts and Artisan Row, where visitors can experience an elevated crafting experience curated led by talented local artisans and create fresh floral crowns, personalized candles, dried floral arranging, and botanical jewelry. The space will include a bar and lounge. There will be a cost of $20-25 per craft. Among new offerings in the food and beverage category are a daily Happy Hour hosted by Fine Wine and Good Spirits, which will feature tastings, live music, and celebrity bottle signing events. They will take place from June 13 – 17, from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and will be free with admission.
In addition, the Food Bazaar will offer three live music performances daily from a variety of local bands and DJs. and will feature over a dozen unique vendors including American, vegan, vegetarian, Italian, Asian, and Mediterranean fare.
There will also be offering a variety of botanical inspired cocktails and will feature the Show’s official cocktail — the Botanical Lemonade — the official cocktail of the 2022 Flower Show. The drink will feature Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit, rose, lemonade, and fresh lemon. Also new this year is a 300-seat pop-up restaurant called The Lakes, which will feature classic bistro fare from Chef Jean Marie Lacroix, famed amongst Philadelphia’s well-established and renowned culinary scene, creator of his namesake restaurant “Lacroix” in the Rittenhouse Hotel, and recipient of James Beard’s lauded “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” award in 2001. Guests will enjoy tableside service with fresh salads, artisanal sandwiches, braised greens and asiago dip, heirloom tomato and burrata salad, French onion burgers, or a traditional four-course prix-fixe meal.
Finally, bearing in mind that while the pandemic has entered a new phase, it is not over, PHS will continue to work closely with health officials leading up to the Show with updated guidance available online.
Regular and special event tickets are available for purchase now at: phsonline.org/the-flower-show.