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Flower power. March 11, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
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Bring on the blooms! Silence Dogood here. If you’re like me and our friend Ben, by now you’re so sick of endless snow followed by endless rain and mud you could scream. You’re ready for color, fragrance—flowers! If, like us, you live in or around Southeastern Pennsylvania, you can finally indulge that craving this weekend.

First, there’s the Philadelphia Flower Show, always a huge to-do that fills the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets. This year’s exhibit theme is “Springtime in Paris,” and visitors enter the show through a mock-Eiffel Tower.

Though the exhibits are always big and mind-blowingly colorful, our friend Ben’s and my favorite parts of the Philly Flower Show are always the individual plant exhibits and the huge vendors’ hall, where you can buy everything from plants to rare books and antique prints. The show runs 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, March 11; 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. March 12; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 13 and will set you back $26 a ticket today, $28 tomorrow and Sunday ($20 students 17-24, $15 children).

Because the Philly Flower Show is always both crowded and pricey, OFB and I don’t go every year, though it definitely provides the biggest color and fragrance hit we know of. But luckily for us, nearby Allentown, PA is also staging a flower show this weekend. The Valley Flower and Garden Show, held at the Allentown Fairgrounds’ Agri-Plex, also stages garden displays, has judging competitions, offers lectures, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre performances, demonstrations, even the Lehigh Valley Garden Railroaders’ display, complete with a steam engine. And of course, those all-important vendors.

OFB and I were especially encouraged to note the eco-conscious nature of many of the lectures, including such themes as “Gardening for Pollinators,” “Composting (Black Gold),” “Healing Gardens,” “Butterfly Gardening,” “Water Gardening,” “Gardening for Wildlife,” and “Using Native Plants in the Landscape.” (Check out the lecture/presentation schedule at www.valleyflowershow.com.)

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday (March 13). And the price is definitely more wallet-friendly: $6 for adults ($4 with a coupon), seniors and children free, and $10 for a 3-day pass. Parking is free, too. That certainly leaves more pocket change available if you want to pick up a plant or two, or stroll next door to the really fabulous Allentown Farmers’ Market and pick from an astounding assortment of produce and fresh-made dishes, from classic Pennsylvania Dutch to yummy Middle Eastern.

A bit farther afield (and later in the month) but definitely worth the drive is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Show and Sale held in conjunction with Longwood Gardens’ Orchid Extravaganza. (Use our search bar at upper right to find our friend Ben’s earlier post, “A good month for orchids,” about that show.) Seeing the huge Longwood conservatories literally dripping with orchids is a sight that’s not easily forgotten, and it tends to be less crowded (except for the sales area, look out!!!) than the Philly show.

Fortunately, our part of scenic PA provides another plant and flower extravaganza, and this one has the added benefit of free admission. It’s Ott’s Exotic Plants, a fabulous expanse of Victorian glasshouses tucked away down beautiful river Route 29 in Schwenksville. Ott’s has a classic Victorian “tropical room,” with a mountain, waterfall, and etc., but it also sells plants. Lots of plants. Room upon room of color and life. Just walking in and breathing cheers us up.

We have written about Ott’s many times in the past; check our search bar for “Ott’s Exotic Plants,” “Ott’s: A tropical plant paradise,” and “Heading to houseplant heaven” for just a few of our past misdeeds. Ott’s still doesn’t have a website, but at least you can find directions by Googling “Ott’s Exotic Plants.” OFB and I usually try to hold out until at least April before trekking down to Ott’s, but after this winter, we might need a fix a little sooner. We’ll keep you posted!

             ‘Til next time,

                        Silence

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