Philadelphia Flower Show has bouquet of special guests coming

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society
Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society

It’s no secret that painstaking time and effort goes into making sure the submissions at the Philadelphia Flower Show are among the most beautiful and elaborate in the world. That’s why for people like Tim Farrell, judging each one takes a team of people with years of experience and an eye for perfection.

“This is my second time being a judge,” Farrell said. “But I’ve been involved for about 15 years. I’m certified with the American Institution of Floral Designers.”

Farrell will judge the floral component of this year’s show, likely with a team of three to seven people. While he said he hadn’t been given instructions yet, the 32-year owner of Farrell’s Flowers in Drexel Hill said he’ll likely focus on how the elements of design are applied to a piece, when determining who takes home the blue ribbon. Things like line, form, aesthetic, balance and color, along with the rhythm of an attraction are all taken into consideration.

“Sometimes a panel walks around as a group to evaluate,” he said. “More often it’s an individual judging, then a third party tabulates the scores.”


This year’s theme is national parks and Farrell said he can’t wait to see what’s in store to see.

“I think it will be great. Floral is usually more creative. If you give them a challenge, they’ll come up with something great.”

Farrell is just one of the many special guests involved in this year’s show. Outside of the judging arena, the Flower Show is a greenhouse of ideas for would-be gardeners. Guests will be able to meet and question a number of gardening professionals in the Designer’s Studio and Gardener’s Studio, vote for winners in exciting, real-time contests and enjoy presentations in a wide range of horticultural trends and topics. In the Design Gallery and throughout the show exhibits, visitors will take away innovative concepts for outdoor spaces and home décor. Among the guest speakers in the Gardener’s Studio will be Dayton Duncan, a writer, producer and collaborator with Ken Burns on the documentary and companion book, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” a press release states. Duncan, who will appear on March 5, will talk about the making of the film and the development of the park system. Other featured presentations will include:

• “Creating a Wildlife Habitat” by David Mizejewski, of the National Wildlife Federation, which will partner with Bank of America for an exhibit on the show floor;

• “Garden Magic” with QVC host Philip Watson;

• “Zero Waste at Home” with TV gardening host Joe Lamp’l;

• “Organic Seed Starting” with Paul Split;

• “Build a Sustainable Ornamental Edible Garden” with Shawna Coronado;

• “The Indestructible Houseplant” with Tovah Martin;

• “The Cocktail Hour Garden” with C.L. Fornari;

• And “The Right Size Veggie Garden” with Kate Copsey.

In the Find Your Park Pavilion, the National Park Service will present guest speakers from around the United States. Susan Dolan, manager of the Park Cultural Landscapes Program, will discuss the early decades of park design and construction and the beauty of rustic design. Historical landscape architect Christopher Beagan will highlight the work of Ellen Shipman and her integration of color, texture and form in flower gardens she designed in the 1920s, the release states.

In the Design Gallery and throughout the show, guests will take away innovative ideas for outdoor spaces inspired by diverse American regions, home decorating concepts borrowed from historic settings, and other creative tips they can bring to their own home and garden. The competitive categories will explore the creation of a welcoming front entrance, balcony spaces, windowsills and pocket gardens.

Representatives of regional and national plant societies also will exhibit at the show and share their knowledge of trees, roses, ferns and wildflowers, cacti and succulents, rhododendron, rock gardens, ikebana, bonsai and many other topics, according to the release.