MY Trip to the Philly Flower Show


Boy, do we cover the Philadelphia Flower Show here – with a guest post, a guest photographer, and now with my very personal experience of the show – which was not the greatest, and all my fault.


First, some meeting and greeting. White House floral designer Laura Dowling demonstrated floral design, a talk I didn’t stay for but I did get to chat with Laura about gardens in DC.


I’m a big fan of alternative lawn types, so I stopped at the Pearl’s Premium booth to find out more about this product I’ve heard about but never seen growing.  Owner Jackson Madnick convinced me that his blend of seed types is succeeding even here in the tricky transition zone for turfgrasses and promised to send me a list of sites in the Mid-Atlantic where I can see Pearl’s fully established and thriving. Gotta say, even in my short time at his booth I heard show-goers stop to praise the product, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t paid to do that.


And what a nice surprise to see Garden Design Magazine at the show for the first time. I neglected to take a photo but owner Jim Peterson sent me this one from the Seattle show.  The folks I talked with – Barbara and Sarge, shown left and right in this group photo – convinced me to subscribe, which I did on the spot.  So here’s a quick review: love it! Somehow it’s huge and gorgeous with no ads!

I did have a small gripe for Jim when he called me after the show. I explained that when I see garden photos in a magazine the first thing I want to know is where is it? And in the Early Spring 2015 issue, I loved the spread showing two of designer Brandon Tyson’s gardens, but it took 6 pages to tell me where they are.  And complaint number two:  the locations noted were “Marin County” and “Mill Valley.” This Easterner happens to know where Marin is but has never heard of Mill Valley.  So while the magazine is far more regionally inclusive than it was under the previous owner, it can do more.

Take the Bus? Not ME!

Finally, why my show experience wasn’t the greatest and why it’s all my fault. See, I like to leave home when I want, return home when I want, and honestly, not have to chit-chat for five hours with a busload of people, so I’ve always driven myself and except for one time, with no passengers.  You know how a solo drive can be enjoyable with the right podcasts or books on tape?

Except when it’s NOT enjoyable because first of all, it’s a busy, ugly stretch of superhighway between DC and Philly and this year I could hardly see the ugliness or the other cars because my windshield kept icing up. Then I had to park 10 snowy blocks from the Convention Center. And when I finally got to the show I ran into Kathy Jentz, who organizes those busloads of show-goers and reminded me that I could have boarded the bus very near to my home and let a professional driver deal with traffic. Plus, the windshield on the bus was ice-free.

So I’m rethinking my show-going strategy and next year I’ll leave the driving to someone else.  I might even enjoy chatting with the other passengers.


  1. The displays were magnificent, but I was disappointed that the movie theme was turned into a Disney theme. Kids really aren’t the target audience for this event, it didn’t make sense to me.

  2. I hope you do join us next year – we are pretty laid-back, watch garden-related DVDs and leave those who like to nap/read/listen to podcasts to themselves :-).

    BTW I thought this year’s show was one of the best in recent memory – something for everyone.

  3. How could you not know where Mill Valley is? With fictitious native son Captain B.J. Hunnicut getting all of those letters on M*A*S*H from wife Peg and daughter Erin, it should be fully as famous as Crabapple Cove, Maine and Ottumwa, Iowa. Further evidence, I’m afraid, that we’ve lost focus on the important things in life.

  4. Susan, I worked the PFS for many years. My preferred way to go is to get a couple of like-minded friends and leave DC about 11:00 in the morning. We park a few blocks away in China town, have lunch at a “real” Chinese restaurant, and shop in China town for a couple of hours. We then enter the show after the hordes of people have left. In most years after 5:00 pm the floor is almost empty. My friends and I then have the place to ourselves and we close it down. The show does close at about 9:30 if memory serves and I get the space I need for good photos! I never would have gone in bad weather in the first place, just sayin’! Even bus drivers have accidents!

  5. When you receive the info about the sites in the mid atlantic that have the Pearl’s Premium thriving please post it!

    I too would very much like to see it in person before I try it.

    Thanks for your posts!

  6. Thanks for subscribing Susan. And for the kind words. Garden Design is fun to make!

    Also appreciate the feedback. These are a work-in-process and being regional diverse is at the top of the list. Also, you’re right, more caution needed on describing locations everyone may not know of.

    Can’t wait until you see the spring issue which is going off to the printer next Friday.

    Have a great weekend!

    Jim Peterson
    Garden Design Magazine

  7. Re Garden Design – like most who loved the early Garden Design which then went mostly to West Coast coverage and became nearly obsolete for us Easterners, I was thrilled to see the new version and the more diverse coverage. I am now debating about renewing because I can’t read some of the pages. Why? the font is so small I need a magnifying glass – for 100 some pages? or white text against a light colored background? or red text on a black background barely visible? Gardens Illustrated did all that for a while but there must have been complaints because they have changed back to larger fonts. And, while I admire beautiful photography, giving an entire page or pages to a single flower magnificently photographed rather than more meaningful text, I find irritating. So I hope there will be others who feel as I do and Garden Design will become legible again because we do need at least one magazine in the USA that is equal to Gardens Illustrated.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for your input. We hear you and heard from others, so….

      We took font sizes up starting the Early Spring issue that is out right now. You’ll also find the captions more legible.

      Input from the audience has been very helpful.

      The magazine is 148 pages with no advertisements- so we’ve heard and feel it’s a benefit that allows some larger photo displays- in addition to a the huge amount of content in each issue.

      If you are in the US call me and I’ll send you a copy Sieglinde.


      Jim Peterson
      Garden Design Magazine

  8. How I get to the Philadelphia Flower Show, with little or no hassle:

    I live between Baltimore and Philadelphia. I simply drive to the Philadelphia International Airport and park in one of the garages. I walk from the garage halfway to the terminal, where I can catch the elevator to the train tracks for the Airport Line. The Airport Line leaves twice an hour, and I take this train to the Jefferson station. I get off, go two flights up the escalator, and am at the entrance to the Convention Center. Easy! And round-trip tickets are inexpensive. And I can come and go when I want to! And much less hassle and expense than driving to Center City Philadelphia.

Comments are closed.