Philadelphia Flower Show: ARTiculture

General / Places / February 13, 2014

Snow and sleet up may have bottled up much of the eastern seaboard today, but take heart: The Philadelphia Flower Show – a perennial favorite since it introduced the poinsettia in 1829 – will be blooming in just two weeks.

On March 1, it’s aiming to align art with horticulture in a mashed-up theme of ARTiculture.

“The exhibitors are creating displays inspired by art institutions,” says Alan Jaffe, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS).

Among the museums involved are the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, the Getty Center, the Guggenheim, and the Smithsonian.

“We’ve turned it around,” he says. “Art is usually so dependent on horticulture, but now horticulture is going to be influenced by art.”

Floral displays will reflect the works of Matisse, Kandinsky, Hartley, and the Wyeths.

The entrance garden will be inspired by paintings, prints and sculptures by Calder. Three oversized frames – the largest 30 feet high and 50 feet wide – will encompass the garden filled with topiary shapes, sculpted trees and rounded boxwoods, with suspended elements reminiscent of the artist’s mobiles.

A quarter-million visitors will stream across 33 acres of exhibits through March 9. The show has a $61 million dollar impact on the regional economy, which makes it the single biggest event in Philadelphia. Because of it, about $1 million goes toward year-long greening efforts across the city.

PHS is a non-profit that focuses its funds on community gardens, a tree planting campaign – its goal is to establish one million new saplings, and it’s already surpassed 300,000 – and a city harvest that raises fresh vegetables for neighborhoods without them, feeding 1,200 families a week during the growing season.

“Every ticket sold supports this community greening program during rest of year,” he says.

Because after all, this is the city of brotherly love.

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Mike Welton

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