Garden Trends and Tips from the Philadelphia Flower Show
Story and Photos by Bonnie Helander

If you love flowers, nature and creative garden design, you will want to add a trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show to your bucket list of “must-see” experiences. Started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the flower show is the world’s longest-running horticultural event, and the largest flower show in the U.S. And you don’t have to limit your time to just the flower show; Philadelphia is considered “America’s Garden Capital,” and features 38 public gardens, arboretums, and historic landscapes within a 30-mile range – more gardens in close proximity than anywhere else in North America!

In 2021 and 2022, in response to the lingering pandemic, the flower show was held outdoors in June, at the beautiful FDR Park, near Edgewood Lake. According to organizers, this year’s theme, In Full Bloom, “connoted good health, positive well-being, and a passion for life that culminates in a gorgeous and colorful spectacle.” What a perfect event theme for all of us trying to move on from the past couple of years! 

There is something for everyone at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Attendees were able to view the work of over 40 major exhibitors, enjoy competitions in horticulture and floral arranging, listen to garden presentations and demonstrations from noted experts and wander through a huge marketplace of amazing plants, artwork, home décor, jewelry and every kind of product for your garden. Kids flitted around at the Butterflies Live exhibit and the Kids Cocoon play area. Live entertainment was featured throughout the day, and visitors could sit and relax, enjoy a beverage, and find a wide array of meal options. 

Flower Shows not only inspire, but give visitors ideas on how to make their gardens pop. Here are some of the big trends and tips I picked up from my visit to the Philadelphia Garden Show.

  • Gardening is BIG! The hobby of gardening continues to grow in popularity and promotes health and well-being. Gardening just 30 minutes a day can help you shed pounds, strengthen muscles and joints, increase flexibility, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, slow the onset of osteoporosis, lower your risk for diabetes, increase your intake of vitamin D through sunshine and help you sleep better! Most gardeners view their gardens as places of sanctuary where they can relax, recharge and recover. When you are in the garden, your senses come alive; you focus on nature’s beauty and the simple tasks at hand and live in the moment. Soon the worries of the day are forgotten, at least for a little while.
  • Gardening in a small space can reap BIG results. There are many benefits to a small garden space – it’s not so overwhelming, costly or hard to maintain. Don’t have much space? Then grow up – let plants climb vertically on a wall or trellis. Only select plants that will stay small and not over-power your area. Use containers filled with colorful annuals or planters that secure on railings to add color and interest.
  • Go BIG with color. Most of the displays at the flower show were filled with vibrant colors. There were no shrinking wall flowers here! Yellow, orange and red (hot colors) balanced with purple, blue and white (cool colors) are all the rage. Mass plantings of flowers give a big impact, and painting your front door with a contrasting color adds more interest.
  • A cutting garden can give you BIG returns and save you money. Flower bouquets are wonderful gifts that lift the spirit, but they can be expensive. Sowing flower seeds in a bed dedicated to a cutting garden is not only fun, but can give you blooms throughout the whole growing season, so you can fill your home with color and share with friends. Cutting flowers to consider are sunflower, peony, dahlia, Siberian iris, delphinium, penstemon, foxglove, bachelor button, poppy, and rose.
  • Add BIG charm with garden structures. Don’t just go for function with your garden shed – add some interest and appeal! Window boxes, weather vanes, artwork, and trellises with vining blooms, all can add whimsy and beauty to the structures in your garden.
  • The sounds of water provide a BIG enhancement to the garden, masking noise, creating a sense of serenity, attracting wildlife, and adding beauty and movement. Even a simple fountain with a pump that recycles water can make you feel at peace.

The 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show Returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center on March 4 – 12. For more information, go to