Flower Show Dazzles with British Flair

"I've come for years and this is by far the best flower show, look around at the views," said Betsy Anderson of Haddonfield, as she walked the entranceway with her best friend of 40 years.

"This is brilliant!" said her pal Lenore Ford of Morristown, N.J. "Others have been lovely, but this is really outstanding." Their favorite exhibit was "The Mad Tea Party," which was inspired by Alice in Wonderland. 

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society expects on average 250,000 visitors to attend the Philadelphia Flower Show each year. In 2012, 270,000 attended. Organizers hope to exceed the 2012 number because the show runs an additional day this year, through March 10.

Just three days into the show, the early morning tours and the garden teas are completely sold out for the remaining days. 

Alan Jaffe, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, said the English theme has generated a lot of interest following the 2012 Summer Olympics and the Queen's jubilee celebration. 

"There are a lot of people with English and Irish blood in our area. English culture is enormously popular. Everyone loves British music. It has influence around the world," Jaffe said.

Technology use dominates the show this year, a 38 foot high Big Ben statue is the largest structure in the show's history.

Every hour on the hour, a video plays on Big Ben's four screens. It plays homage to British culture, music and icons-- the royal family, The Beatles and David Bowie. Klip Collaborative of Northern Liberties produced the Big Ben show. 

Beyond the sweet smell of thousands of flowers, there's hands-on stuff to do. The do-it-yourself workshops have been a hit, according to organizers.

The fascinator hat activity in the Make & Take Room has been one of the most popular workshops. Susan Collins took a break from walking the Flower Show to make a personlized British hat. "It was a very pleasant suprise," she said. 

The Designers Studio showcases a real-time design show. Chosen competitors have 20 minutes to create a floral arrangement and the audience votes for the winner. "It's like iron chef but instead of pots and pans we have flowers," said Jaffe.

The show makes "you want to go home and garden," said Kim Croney of Haverford. She and her girlfriend Jennifer Smith stopped to take a photo with a lifesize cardboard version of the Queen. 

"It's way better this year than years past. It's very inspiring," said Smith.

The Flower Show generates about $1 million in proceeds to benefit PHS programs, including the PHS City Harvest program. More than 1,000 families a week are beneficiaries of the fresh produce grown by participating community gardeners. 

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