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Grow, baby, grow: Bucks groups prep for Philadelphia Flower Show


What does emotional exuberance look like?

The Philadelphia Flower Show’s upcoming “The Garden Electric” aims to convey through flowers — and custom-built exhibit designs — that pivotal moment when we recognize emotional electricity, or excitement.

The show returns to its longtime home inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, after a pandemic move to an outdoor venue at FDR Park since 2020.

Hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, this year’s event will be held from March 4-12. Nearing its 200th anniversary, PHS began offering the Philadelphia Flower Show to visitors in 1829, the organization’s website said.

This year’s show will have exhibitors from Bucks County sharing their work and knowledge.

“The Garden Electric is not AC-DC [current or circuits]. It’s feeling the electricity in the air,” said Paul Wesolowski, Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society flower show chairman, and one of the show’s exhibitors.

Many of the succulent and cactus plants— especially the older, exotic specimen plants which will be on display — come from Wesolowski’s Bucks County property in Solebury.

“PHS asked us to pull out all the stops,” he said. “We’ll have several dozen of those larger, older and more difficult plants than in other years. A lot of those plants will be exhibited; with some for the first time.”

As with many garden and flower clubs, Wesolowski said the Philadelphia Cactus Society’s aim is “…to educate people about these plants so they can grow them better.

Michael Fleischacker, a professor of plant science and landscape architecture at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown Township, hopes his students’ display will resonate with visitors.

“It’s always hard to capture emotions and experience emotions in design,” Fleischacker explained.

The university’s exhibit is built around the concept of nature’s “battery,” or the eight-minute intervals it takes for the sun’s rays to get to Earth to “charge nature’s batteries” and provide food and nourishment to plants, animals, insects and people.

This year’s university team is made up of two professors and four students. Delaware Valley has been exhibiting at the show since 1950, he noted.

“Our color is electric blue to go with the theme. It’s an array of colors, with blue being the foundational and shades of blue,” Fleischacker said.

Shades of pink, white, off white and subtle green tones will round out the color palette.

Native plants will feature in the exhibit and most of the plant material is sourced locally and grown on the Bucks County university campus.

“We’ve worked with local growers and suppliers with pretty much all of our plants, trees, perennials and shrubs,” Fleischacker said.

After an August brainstorming session, the exhibit designs take shape. Next plants must be ordered to begin growing in the campus greenhouses.

Building on sumptuous visual color and texture, floral designers and landscape professionals from around the world are drawn to participate in the event.

Seth Pearsoll, PHS creative director said while the show attracts worldwide talent, it’s also a place where small local businesses, non-profit organizations and educators can shine.

“We’re different because we really embrace smaller, nonprofessional groups. We have six schools [this year] and Delaware Valley is one of them,” Pearsoll said.

“If you’re a designer and you’re just coming in, this is a completely new type of project,” he explained.

While shows continued in the park-like setting overlooking the water at FDR Park in South Philadelphia during the pandemic, Pearsoll said hosting indoors creates “a magical” quality.

“Indoors you’ve got designers trying crazy new things so for the guests, you can really transport them,” he said.

Pearsoll predicts this year’s event will offer both an emotional and cathartic experience for patrons.

Look for the “Horticourt” in the center of show displays, where prized specimens and flora examples will be on display.

“The indoor show is a homecoming, and [this year’s event is] about these emotional moments [we can all] experience,” he said.

Demonstrations, workshops and displays are hallmark features of the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. “The Garden Electric” runs from March 4-12 inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 1101 Arch St. in Philadelphia. For information and tickets, visit

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