Philadelphia Flower Show’s Beauty Takes Your Breath Away

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By Jill Brooke

Photo: Morgan Hurell

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society unveiled the 2024 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show titled “United by Flowers.” The 195th PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will be held until March 10, 2024, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The indoor event allows flowers to bloom and be showcased in so many ways that you must see this!

And let me say this loud and clear.

This is the best floral show in the world. Sure Chelsea Flower Show in England gets the buzz but in recent years has focused more on plants and landscaping.

“There are definitely more flowers here and a focus on them,” says Caroline Crabb, who came from England to help the AIFD crew on their installation.

“United by Flowers” celebrates the colorful community that comes together to share in their love of gardening, flowers, and plants, and the impact they make on our lives all year round.

The theme, organizers say, emphasizes the unity that blooms each spring at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show – a moment when hundreds of thousands from the region, nation, and the world come together to experience the transformative power, stunning beauty, and joyfulness of gardening.

 “In a world where loneliness has become an epidemic, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show brings people together to connect over their shared love of gardening and floral beauty. It is a place where magic happens, and where people from all walks of life come together as one. This growing community represents the essence of United by Flowers,” said Seth Pearsoll, Vice president and Creative Director of PHS.  

Philadelphia Flower Show wispy baby's breath
Photo: Flower Power Daily

Meanwhile, Pearsoll’s group created a wonderland of wispy, dreamlike flowers that took my breath away.

The following floral artists have sacrificed weeks that they could be working on weddings and events to be part of this show.  Most don’t get paid but do it for the love of floral design and to stretch, as Jennifer Reed says, “their creativity.” The greats that you will now see also had to give their designs almost a year in advance and the results are awe-inspiring.

Here are my favorites – as well as the winners the PHS judges ranked based on design, horticultural excellence, construction, and craftsmanship. The show continues until March 10th and is definitely worth seeing.

Robertson floral design
Photo: Flower Power Daily

Robertston Flowers looked at how geometry intersects in nature. “With the square stems of herbs, the rings of a tree, the honeycombs of a beehive, or even our own DNA, our world is filled with shapes purposely different yet existing in harmony.” So well done. And notice the shapes of the floor all intersected. That takes a lot of work. Their use of macrame and flowers was also a nice trend. What an original and smart idea and the execution was exquisite. Not surprisingly, the Robertson team won a silver award as well as another for creativity. They also won the Phyllis M. Craig Award for best use of color in flowers and foliage plants.

Map of flowers in US
Photo: Flower Power Daily

Jennifer Reed and her team at Jennifer Design Events brilliantly connected with Triple-A to create a map of all the great flower locations to visit across the United States. The company wisely sponsored this idea. So not only will visitors be given information about potential travels to inspire them,  but she created what she calls “Flower Road Trippin!”  Everything Jen does is so fun. Last year her flower brain was also a big hit. She also won a PHS Silver as well as a special achievement award for its educational value. Another award was for an exhibit that exemplifies “PHS’s mission to activate horticulture and gardening as a force for the “greater good.”

Photo: Philadelphia Flower Show

Arrange Florals and Event Design got the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Cup Best in Show for 2024.

Orchid winner at Philadelphia Flower Show 2024
Photo: Flower Power Daily

The concept was an homage to the orchid. As Eric Schellack explained, “This is.a temple to the orchid which is recognized as a special and unique flower by everyone.” Oh and look at all the varieties. Not surprisingly, the American Orchid Society also gave this an award for this exploration of such a beloved flower. Schellack also won the Emile H. Geschick Memorial Award. I think it’s safe to say that the judges are clearly orchid lovers. But as we’ve written, the orchid is loved for both its history and durability and cultural significance.

canopy of flowers on a table
Photo: Flower Power Daily

Tissarose Floral ust enchanted us all with this display. This exhibit took the bronze medal from the PHS judges.  Titled “The Need for Ceremony,” she focused on the dining room where people gather as a “place for familial and human connection” in good times and challenging times. A nice touch was how she purposely used “colors of purple, magenta and yellow to inspire bravery, spirituality and a leap of faith – as well as joy.” Check out how she used those waves of color in such a blissful joyful way with the underpinning of social commentary on her journey.

behind the scenes on flower installations
Photo: Flower Power Daily

Leave it to Bill Schaffer and Kris Kratt to bring together talented florists from around the globe to create an installation that has so many special flowers. Calla lilies, roses from Japan, and lisanthus in delicate colors of peach which is so very Pantone this year. The idea of this installation was to join “dry arid with wet tropical environments that reflect nature’s diversity.”

AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers) “gathered” hot spots around the globe known for extraordinary florals whether it’s Holland or Canada. There was also a special one of the orchids from Hawaii seen above. Then the centerpiece was a big garden using all the flowers in each individual silo and display. This also won a bronze prize.

Black Girl Florists, led by Valerie Crisostomo, won a bronze prize for this idea of gathering in a beauty salon. Love how Samia Zellner had a Rapunzel-type draping of flowers that looked like a beautiful mane of hair.

Collectively, these creations uplifted everyone’s spirits and showed the power of the flower to help and inspire mankind. Which as this bottom photo illustrates, is always a work in progress.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and a contributor to Florists Review magazine. She also won the 2023 AIFD (American Institute of Floral Design.) Merit Award. Her new book will be published in 2024