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Herbs at the PHS Flower Show

Hello and Happy Summer to all of you! This year I was super lucky and got to attend the The Philadelphia Flower Show, one of the premier horticultural events in the country. It is the nation’s largest and the world’s longest running horticultural event and features stunning displays by some very talented and amazing floral and landscape designers. It is also the major fundraiser for The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society that was founded in 1827. Their programs include building community gardens, creating public gardens and educational opportunities. This year the show made history by going outdoors for the first time in the show’s history. This made it possible for more displays and also offered major improvements to FDR park in South Philadelphia where the show was located. Being outdoors had some challenges as the weather was less than cooperative. It was also a new time of year being in June rather than the traditional February which is a slower time for gardeners, landscapers, and growers. There was a heatwave and major thunder storm activity, which blew the roof off a few displays and wiped out a few gardens. Yet despite the challenges of a new location, it was one of the best year’s ever and coming out of the challenges of 2020 attendees were thrilled to be outdoors enjoying nature, plants, and each other. I heard several times how happy everyone was to just be there and one designer even commented, “It was plants that got us through last year and the covid pandemic and the reason we are here today.”

The 2021 show theme was “Habitat, Nature’s Masterpiece” and the displays were amazing creating habitats for people, plants, and wildlife. The ideas were creative and inspiring and many of them could be incorporated into you own home gardens. Creating areas for pollinators, dining and living outdoors, and building up community experiences with herbs and plants in your neighborhoods.

I hope you will join me on Tuesday, July 20 as I am also going to share some projects you can create yourself with herbs at home inspired by the show. I was unable to meet with local members as the day we had scheduled, we were all evacuated due to thunder and lightening (that is an exciting story to tell). I also will be sharing some of the award winning gardens and designers. This year’s “Best of Show” went to Wambui Ippolito. Her design won by combining color, horticulture, and unique design elements. It was influenced by her upbringing in the Great Rift Valley in Africa and lifelong travels. Her garden was named “Etherea” and was very contemporary in style. It evoked a feeling of peace in nature. Here are a few more themes and ideas from the Philadelphia Flower show:

Recycle: Reusing, Recycling and Upcycling is not a new idea but it is one that is here to stay. Many of the displays used materials that often end up in landfills. One garden even built a bench and filled it with discarded plastic, pots, hoses, tools, and old garden ornaments. Another one had a flock of birds all fashioned out of used aluminum soda cans.

Community: Using your plants and love of plants to share with others was also a theme. Creating a free seed library where people could share seeds or “check them out” and return more in the fall was one idea I loved. There was also a competition between landscapers to transform “Hell Strips” into “Heaven Strips,” this is the area in most major cities between the curb and the sidewalk that is often bare or not maintained.

Pollinators: Planting for pollinators is something we herb lovers just know how to do. There were so many displays focused not just on bees but other pollinators such as birds, butterflies, dragonflies, even cicadas. I got to attend the butterfly experience which was magical and also learned, you really have to do some research to attract butterflies to your yard. Each species has different needs as far as host plants and nuture plants.

Grow Bags: Everyone loves growing herbs and flowers in containers but grow bags seem to be gaining popularity. They are affordable, easy to store, and promote healthier root systems than standard plastic nursery pots. I attended a “Potting Party” where we planted up grow bags with thriller, fillers, and spillers, Zinnias, Basil and Thyme.

Herbs: The use of herbs was everywhere and in almost every display. The focus was on local plants and also ones that were useful. I noticed a lot of Yarrow, Lavender, Rosemary, and Thyme. I think this is due to the fact that they are so popular and easily recognized, loved by pollinators and also can withstand drought conditions and bad weather which this outdoor show had.

Here is the sign up link if you want to register for my talk: Click Here

Never stop growing!

xoxo Janice


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