By Marion McParland and Will Sulahian
Calling all plant lovers! If you haven’t been to this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, “HABITAT: Nature’s Masterpiece,” at FDR Park in South Philadelphia, set aside your garden scissors and watering hose and plan a plantastic day like no other. Tickets are available online or onsite through Sunday, June 13.
A perennial favorite, the Flower Show is the place to find new plant varieties, fresh ideas, and lots of gardening inspiration. Two locations you won’t want to miss are the Gardeners Green, located in the Garden District, and the PHS Hamilton Horticourt, in the Plant District. See if you can locate these unique plants during your Show visit!
In the PHS Gardeners Green, many beautiful and varied garden habitats are waiting to be discovered. See a formal kitchen garden with parterre-style beds, espalier fruit-tree tunnels, and an edible landscape, along with these beauties:
You’ll find year-round beauty in this evergreen shrub that keeps its unique light green foliage throughout winter. “One thing people like about this shrub is the tiny white flowers that are extremely fragrant and appear in September — adding to the plant’s beauty,” says Andrew Bunting, Vice President of Public Horticulture at PHS. This shrub is also a PHS Gold Medal Plant, making it a great and accessible addition to any garden. Hint: Look for a variegated holly with various colored leaves.
This native pollinator is great for attracting fauna like hummingbirds to your garden while adding a dash of purple and pink to your landscape. "The tubular flowers are a beautiful sight and function especially well feeding pollinators too,” says Bunting. Hint: The bright, lovely lavender/pink blossoms will make this perennial pop in your garden.
The PHS Hamilton Horticourt returned this year with some changes. Instead of having plants judged for awards, a curated selection of more than 200 plants were chosen and placed into five categories: Family Ties, Life Under Glass, Striking Beauty, Best of the Blues, and Raising the Bar.
The “Family Ties” class of plants explains the reasons why certain plants have a common name or why they are a part of the same plant family. “Life Under Glass” focuses on plants that can be grown in terrariums, teaching visitors about plant ecosystems. “Striking Beauty” features unusual, carnivorous, bog, and other plants. “Best of the Blues” spotlights plants that have previously won blue ribbons at the Philadelphia Flower Show – now all grown up! “Raising the Bar” focuses on perfect examples of common houseplants and the uncommon plants that elevate the art of houseplants.
Some other standouts include:
The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) brought a large Maxillaria tenifloria, also known as the coconut orchid, which smells like coconuts! “It was a bit breezy when USBG dropped it off and it made the whole area smell great.” says Josh Darfler, Flower Show Chair of Horticulture. Hint: Follow the fragrance of coconut to find this orchid!
Currently in flower, you can smell the malodorous fragrance of this plant through a mask. In past years, the Amorphophallus plants are kept together in the back corner of the Horticourt. This year, they are spread throughout the tent. While most of them are just leaves, this species is flowering now! Hint: Follow your nose to this somewhat “stinky” plant.
Native to most of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Somalia to South Africa, this plant is toxic and has been used in arrow and fishing poisons, as well as in traditional medicine. Hint: Search for a bright pop of fireworks! This bright, colorful plant is exploding with hues of scarlet, red, orange, and pink.
This is the smallest and strangest in the genus, with a stem resembling rocks. Bright yellow flowers make this one plant that every Pachypodium lover should have. “This plant has won a lot of ribbons over the years. I remember seeing it in the show many times but have never seen it in flower,” says Darfler. “It’s very cool to see, and this only happened because of the later show this year.” Hint: Look for a plant sitting on a pile of rocks or potatoes. This plant’s incredibly unique stem will give this one away!
Bring a notepad, pencil, and camera, to record your new discoveries at this year’s Show. You’ll be filled with inspiration and ready to plant and grow more once you get home!