PHILADELPHIA—A flower show in the winter? The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) produces the nation's largest one every year, typically around late February or the beginning of March. It's traditionally held indoors—discounting 2021 and 2022—to surprise and delight visitors with dynamic, larger-than-life exhibits created by some of the world's premier floral and landscape designers. This year, the long-running PHS Philadelphia Flower Show returned to the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 4-12 after the past two years were held outside at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park.
"I love both formats," said PHS creative director Seth Pearsoll of indoors versus outdoors. "They're two different experiences. The park-like setting [from the last two years] was where we were able to do a lot of things that we wouldn't normally be able to do. But this format [indoors] offers a lot more drama. From an event perspective, we can control a lot more of the atmosphere. We obviously don't get the benefit of beautiful sunlight and breezes, but we can do other things—lighting, fog, fragrance, for example."
This year's theme was "The Garden Electric," and was meant to evoke a feeling of celebration and awe one might get when encountering gorgeous flowers and gardens. Pearsoll said the theme for the show each year is always meant to respond to what's happening in the world.
"The flower show has pivoted and had themes of restoration and healing, and we've explored the connection between mental health and gardens," he explained. "This year, we wanted to remind people that plants, gardens, and flowers didn't just have to be passive. They could be celebratory; they could be bold, vibrant, and vivacious. It's really about a particular moment when you see something so beautiful that it jolts your senses—almost like it produces a spark."
Exhibits on display this year included one inspired by Studio 54 from Philly-based ILLExotics (which won the Best in Show for Landscape Design), and one comprising intricate floral sculptures from Harijanto Setiawan, an architect-turned-florist and founder of Boenga floral studio.
"In events right now, everybody's trying to find a way to use florals and botanicals in a different way that's more than just a photo wall," Pearsoll said. "This is a place where you can really see people doing incredible stuff with these materials."
Keep scrolling to see 10 inspiring floral designs from this year's PHS Philadelphia Flower show, with more insights from Pearsoll...