Next Year’s Flower Show Seeks Later Date, Outdoor Location

Written by on August 24, 2020

Next Year’s Flower Show Seeks Later Date, Outdoor Location

By Megan Frank

August 24, 2020

Photo | Megan Frank / WLVR

A big change is in store for the Philadelphia Flower Show in 2021.

Andrew Bunting, vice president of public horticulture for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), the organization that runs the event, says Covid-19 prompted the group to reconsider how the show would look next year.

“The 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show will be outdoors and it will be at a different time of year,” Bunting told PBS39. “Right now, we’re in negotiations, so we can’t disclose where it is or when it will be. The reason for the rescheduling is because of the monumental challenges of Covid-19. So, we decided to look for outdoor spaces and another time of year so that we can provide a safe environment for everyone.”

The decision is a break from decades of tradition of having the event in the winter. Mike McGrath, who hosts “You Bet Your Garden” on PBS39, has been a guest speaker at the Philadelphia Flower Show since 1990.

“It was always supposed to be the true harbinger of spring,” said McGrath. “It’s been indoors during March for almost 200 years now! Our world has changed dramatically, and I’m proud of my associates at the Flower Show for really rolling with the times.”

He believes the scheduling change could be a good thing.

“[I think] being outdoors at a warmer time of the year, it’s really going to spark the creativity of the people who put on the displays. If it’s held in June, I think that would be ideal. I can tell you as a gardener, everything looks better in June,” said McGrath.

Bunting says you don’t have to wait until the next flower show to get involved with PHS. The group offers gardening education workshops several times a month.

“With Covid-19, there’s been an increase in people gardening, and PHS, especially during these times, is here to help,” said Bunting. “All of our in-person workshops are now webinars, although we call them grow-inars! Some are free, while others come with a small fee. All of the information is on our website. We teach you how to grow trees, or discuss tips for container gardening. Some classes show you how to plant a vegetable garden.”

Throughout the year, Bunting says PHS needs volunteers to help plant trees and maintain green spaces around the greater Philadelphia region.

“We partner with 250 community gardens around the greater Philadelphia area all year long and we need volunteers to help maintain those spaces,” he said. “We also do what we call a clean and green of about 400 vacant lots a year around Philadelphia. We clear away rubble and trash, bring in topsoil, put up a fence, and plant several shade trees.”

All of PHS’ program offerings are open to the public—and you don’t need a membership to join in. Memberships are available for $50 per year, and include perks like a subscription to the PHS gardening magazine, which comes out quarterly.

“We are the nation’s oldest horticultural society, even older than the Royal Horticultural Society in England! In 2027, we’ll celebrate our 200 years. PHS is really a vehicle for engagement. We feel that anyone can be a gardener and we want people to feel like horticulture education is accessible,” said Bunting.

This fall, PHS is rolling out its Harvest 2020 initiative to help feed the hungry.

“We’re part of a network of food banks and the goal is to help people access fresh produce,” Bunting explained. “Here in Alice’s Garden, our vegetable garden, we’re growing enough to share with a local food bank right here in Jenkintown. Due to Covid-19, food insecurity is expected to increase up to 25 percent in the greater Philadelphia area.”

Bunting says about 1,000 pounds of fresh produce will be harvested from the garden. Anyone can donate produce, even from small individual gardens, for Harvest 2020.

Visit the PHS website to learn more.

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