How Sustainable is the Philadelphia Flower Show 2017?
We’ve been covering the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show since 2011. For seven years, we’ve seen the themes, hearing about the highlights and behind-the-scenes action.
As I was on my way to check out the 2017 preview, my friend asked me if the Flower Show was sustainable – and if I should even be covering it.
Sit back, look fancy and read our full play-by-play of “Holland.”
The Financial Impact
The Philadelphia Flower Show started in 1829 and brings 250,000 guests to the Philadelphia Convention Center annually. The average visitor stays 4-6 hours to admire flowers. But many visitors remain in Philly for several days, which puts dollars back to local Philly economy. (We advise those visiting to favor Reading Terminal Market for lunch and support local food.)
Plus, how can you not want to buy a bike IMMEDIATELY after seeing this bike wonderland? This exhibit is made from recycled bike parts to compose the bridge and decor. (Anyone need a spare spoke?!?)
Spreading Wisdom from Holland
I visited Holland (AKA Amsterdam) circa 2005 while studying abroad. Although we visited a few coffee shops and the famous museums, I wasn’t as eco-conscious as I am today. Luckily, PHS imported a few Dutch sustainable gardeners in 2017 to help make up for it.
Niko Wissing of Greenm2 thinks we add a lot of extra crap to our gardens over here. Instead, we should be asking our garden stores for sustainable alternatives. As he said, we could be eliminating a lot of waste:
“There’s no need for plastic pots. There’s no don’t need pebbles or stones from China. We don’t have to take down a forest for your garden. Take careful responsibility when you build a garden.”
Wissing created his “Reconnection” exhibit to demonstrate “how landscape can be created to offer an ideal environment for plants, animals, and people by using natural, local and sustainable materials, combined with already present factors such as rainwater.” Everything in the exhibit is recyclable, repurposed or compostable.
So how can we be better gardeners moving forth? According to Wissing,
“It must be a movement all over the world… It’s a matter of habitat and people should change their mindset.”
Wissing also designed a Dutch Ecodome to highlight Holland’s latest and greatest “green” technologies. The 70-foot-wide, 30-foot-tall exhibit is covered by moss that filters vehicle exhaust. Other features include a dust reduction system to capture particulates in the air and features solar energy, converting rain water into drinking water, climbing plants, bio-based furniture, an insect hotel and more. Pretty damn cool, right?
Philadelphia is the first Northern American city to see the Ecodome, which was broken down into 100 pieces overseas and reassembled in the USA.
The interesting factor
OK, I really just had to share this photo. HEADS, bicycles, flowers, planters… There’s so much going on. It’s the perfect balance of awesome and creepy.
The Sustainability Factor of the Flower Show
The Flower Show tries to source locally where they can. Many local gardens like Meadowbrook Farm is the number one resource for PHS, and grow plants for their exhibits. However, plants are sourced from as far away as Oregon, Florida and – you guessed it – this year’s theme, Holland. Without an exact calculation, there has to be a decent carbon footprint. Also, it’s a little ironic that 30+ exhibits are surrounded by concrete one floor up from street level.
The world can be kinda weird right now, and then you realize you’re surrounded by beauty at times. And the Flower Show is one of those times to reflect on the positive. How could you not enjoy this floating display of freeze-dried flowers hanging from 16 miles of colored string?
However, as I texted back to my friend, sustainability is tricky. We are never really 100% sustainable by just existing, right?
The Philadelphia Flower Show inspires gardeners of all ages to create their own mini abyss. Inspiration comes from the smallest succulents to extravagant displays – depending on your income and space. And if we’re encouraging people to grow plants – for pollinators, for food, for beauty… Isn’t that kind of a significant side effect and ultimately worth it?
If you go – Philadelphia Flower Show 2017
- March 11-19, 2017
- Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia PA
- Hours: 3/11 11 AM – 9 PM; Sunday 3/12 & Sat 3/18: 8 AM – 9 PM; M-F 10 AM – 9 PM; Sunday, March 19th: 8 AM-6 PM
- Tickets: $15-31. Online here.