More than Flowers – PHS offers a festival

We got a sneak peek…here’s what we saw, and why you should visit the show!

The PHS Flower show is a Philadelphia institution, however, many locals have never attended. Organizers of the 2021 exhibition hope that the change in venue from the convention center to FDR park will bring in both the regular devotees as well as a new visitors, curious about the exhibition but also drawn to the South Philadelphia location. PHS seems to be building upon the successes of their Parks on Taps ventures to give visitors the optimal leisure outdoor experience, beyond the stunning horticultural displays. Many dining and drinking opportunities are thoughtfully arranged throughout the show, offering something for everyone, from beer gardens and cocktails, to boardwalk munchies and eat on the go snacks.  

New elements come together in the attempt to attract a broader swath of visitors and to encourage them to experience the show more along the lines of a festival, a place to congregate and linger. Complete with ample shopping opportunities, a wide variety of food and beverage offerings, performances and activities, as well as several distinct areas for visitors to rest amid their explorations of sculptural flower arrangements and live plants, this years show is for more than those with a green thumb. 

The show is divided into three ‘districts” although the layout encourages a natural exploration of each district as paths weave through the grounds, and visitors may find themselves organically flowing from the prominent design displays to the more approachable garden area, while tempted by libations along the way.

The historic boathouse offers shade and ample seating with enviable views of either the Edgewood lake or the design district of the show. Visitors will be able to order through servers at their tables via QR code and dine on upscale offerings from Brûlée Catering upscale snacks like a cheese board and olives, fresh salads, a variety of paninis, veggie wraps, such as short ribs and crab cakes. Libations from Fine Wine and Good Spirits may be purchased at a kiosk at the base of the boathouse, before ascending either the historic steps or an accessible ramp.

For a thematic meal, there are multiple gourmet pre-ordered picnic basket ranging from a elegant multi-course brunch or lunch offering for two, complete with bottle of wine if you like, to the “sprout to go” a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich and apple juice, with sides of cheese, grapes, and apples, perfect for kids. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available such as the vegan curried chickpea wrap complete with several side dishes, assuring there is an option for all. Picnic basket options that can be pre-ordered online and then picked up near the Southwestern most corner of the fair, and taken to the grassy shaded Gardener’s Grove picnic grounds.

This area will also feature a la carte food options from local vendors, ranging from snacks to salads and sandwiches, as well as beer from Stella Artois and cocktails from Ketel One Botanical. The Beer Garden menus includes summer favorites burgers, chicken drumsticks, wings, hot dogs, corn on the cob and Mexican cuisine like street tacos with slow roasted pulled chicken or pork. Layered salads jars with southwestern Cobb, chicken quinoa, Greek, or pesto options and playa bowl or acai bowl offer healthier options.

For those who have changed their consumption habits Seedlip features prominently at beverage stations. The non-alcoholic distilled beverage offers a sophisticated cocktail for those wanting to imbibe without intoxication. Traditional botanically inspired cocktails are also on the menu, provided by sponsor Ketel Bontanicals.

In the Northwest corner of the Garden District picnic tables are comfortably spaced amid the shade of trees and canopies. Visitors to the may recognize the food in the Blum village from the holiday market that graces Love park every December. Raclette sandwiches with meat or veggie options, bratwurst, schnitzel, Belgian fries, potato pancakes, potato salad, and spatzle make up some of the offerings. Sweet and savory Alpine snacks are also available, such as pretzels, hard salami, roasted almonds and nuts, fresh waffles and Alcohol-infused desserts, all from local vendors.

The large Men’s Garden Club exhibition (to the Southwest of the Swedish museum) will be a welcome opportunity for families with children – the space to play in a Jurassic park themed playground complete with treehouse, pretend jeep sandbox, and life-sized velociraptors. 

The Plant District to the East also acts as a location for visitors to linger at shaded tables around performances from Philadelphia Circus School and international vendors selling Spanish tagines and Japanese parasols. Dubbed the Food Bazaar it offers many of the options as the beer garden, along with cheesy crab fries, fried shrimp, Philly cheesesteak, chicken or falafel gyros, fish tacos, empanadas, pizza, and mac and cheese. Dotted throughout the Design District are treats to be enjoyed as you stroll with ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s and water ice from Rita’s, as well as coffee and classic Italian desserts from Philadelphia Eats, plus old-fashioned popcorn and boardwalk candy from Boardwalk Specials.

The joys of the flower show are in the discovery – the clever selfie stop, older-than-you bonsai, the clever sculpture of the imagined habitat of American cryptids such as the Jersey Devil. It is also an opportunity for local businesses to make their presence known. Creations by Coppala, the popular Passyunk florist, is represented with her arrangement Mystical Paradise. Likewise her former shopmates, Illexotics are represented in the home section.

Visitors should be prepared for a substantial walk from the entrance at broad and pattison to the grand entrance of the show itself. Parking is available with a shuttle service. The park entrance at Pattison and 20th is closed and for volunteers and staff only.

Once you arrive a stunning exhibition entitled Habitat by Jeff Leatham and presented by his employer Four Seasons Hotel sets the ambition of the whole flower show experience. A peacefully surreal vision of electric fuchsia and orange, it recontextualizes the historic Olmsted pavilion, the site of so many bridal portraits for generation, as a Instagramable intersection of nature, architecture, and imagination.

First time visitors should be assured that their care and comforts will be provided for as they take time to explore all the offerings floral and otherwise this years flower show has to offer. 

Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece, runs from June 5-13. Tickets must be purchased in advance, reserving a morning or evening session. The ticket is good only for the guest’s reserved session. PHS membership provides discounts or free Flower Show tickets at specific membership levels.

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park
    1500 Pattison Avenue & South Broad Street 
    Philadelphia, PA 19145
    The entrance is on the corner of Pattinson Avenue and South Broad Street.

FDR Park is convenient to public transit and major highways. PHS is offering shuttle service from nearby lots and parking for bikes in the park.

Tickets are currently available for sale online.
Tickets: Adults: $45, Young Friend (18-29): $30, Child (5-17): $20, Child 4 years and under: Free

Saturday,  June 5   8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Morning Session: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Afternoon Session: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Sunday,  June 6  –  Sunday,  June 13   10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Morning Session: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm

*Last entry each day is 30 minutes prior to the end of each session.