PPA Brings out the Bawlmer Spirit in MANTS-Goers

Janet and I in full Bawlmer.

The annual orgy of plant worship and fun times – the Perennial Plant Association symposium – is happening in Baltimore this year and the Flock is Gathering – in high Pink Flamingo and Big Hair.

That was all on display this week at the big Mid-Atlantic  Nursery Trade Show, where garden diva Janet Draper piled Marge Simpson wigs and other pink and orange tackiness on passersby, and generally ginned up excitement for what she promises will be a Really Big Show.  On  Facebook she posted photos of everyone in costume with the caption “Hons.”

Janet’s in charge of the mid-summer event, so all the fun-lovers will be there.  It’ll be my first PPA shindig, after hearing raves about it for years.


Janet filled me in on the culture of Bawlmer, starting with its amazing HonFest.  Quoting its website:

The term Hon is actually a friendly greeting and comes from the word honey. Around here, however, the women who vie to become Baltimore’s Best Hon are a vision of the sixties-era. They are women with beehive hairdos, bright-blue eye shadow, spandex pants and anything with leopard print!

Not to forget that other purveyor of High Bawlmer Style – the outrageous filmmaker John Waters.  Thus the pink flamingos.

And you thought Baltimore was all about “The Wire?”  That downer!


I’m going to PPA/Baltimore for the partying interspersed with learning a lot and seeing amazing private gardens and famous growing operations and garden centers, and God only knows what, with hundreds of plant people, mostly the fun kind.  It’s open to everyone.

HonFest photo credit.


  1. The PPA symposium is the Big Tent of horticulture. It’s a blast. I’ve been going for more years than I can remember. Susan, great to see you yesterday at MANTS. You look gorgeous in pink!

  2. I mean, I love perennials just as much as the next guy…..but it’s a “no go” on the big hair and Flamingo thingy on the head. I mean, no way. Not doing it. And I’d look ridiculous. Like that guy who wears Uggs. Or Spanx for that matter.

  3. Thanks so much for the post Susan! Wow…that is a lot of hype to live up to, but when the PPA family gathers, they create their own kind of chloropyllic high! It really is an amazing group of exceptional plantsmen and women all passionate about horticulture and sharing the things they have learned with anyone who wants to learn.

    And [email protected] your garden, regarding the crazy wigs and stuff, that was ALL voluntary! No one was subjected to the craziness unwillingly! Coherst, possibly, but only in the gentlest way!
    See you all in Bawlmer!
    Janet draper

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