Here's my dilemma: The Philadelphia Flower Show is the mother of all American garden shows and it's produced by the venerable Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Even in a recession, the show attracts 250,000 attendees willing to fork over $22 each just to get in the door. Plus, the show fills 24,000 room-nights in local hotels and generates $35 million in "economic impact" for Philadelphia.
Even more impressive is the truly great cause funded by the show – Philadelphia Green, the organization that creates community gardens and urban parks where they're most needed, and has been working miracles for 25 years now.
So given all that, what's my complaint with the show? While I've frankly never loved gaudily lit fake gardens in convention centers, wherever they may be, the theme of this year's Philly show is Italy, and Roman hardscaping surrounded by forced tulips and azaleas just doesn't DO it for me, okay? Ditto all the floor space given to floral "fashion". And you'd never guess, from all these formal, ornate displays, that gardening today is all about growing vegetables and environmental stewardship.
On the other hand, the show IS sticking with what works and what their customers do seem to love – eye-popping displays of COLOR – and not worrying about being political correct or pleasing us gardenbloggers. So in a perverse way I love that the show is old-fashioned, ornamentalist to the core, and barely "green" at all!
But I'd love to hear what everybody else thinks (and I'm sure I will).
I've already found this post by gardenwriter/designer Jane Berger, who points out that after all, it's a flower show, not a garden show. Okay, that helps.
Don't miss my comment, where I retract almost everything I wrote – except for some standard convention-going whining.