About the author:Bonnie Turner-Lomax came to EPA Region III in 1987 and has held several positions throughout the Region. She is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Environmental Assessment & Innovation Division.
It’s a very chilly 30 degrees and windy Monday in Philadelphia – typical for the end of February. A lunchtime walk took me past the Pennsylvania Convention Center where, in less than a week and despite the calendar and the outdoor temperature, it will feel, smell, and look like Spring.
I’m talking about the Philadelphia Flower Show – an annual rite of Spring that brings together garden exhibitors from all over the country to transfer the floor of the Convention Center into a magical Spring display.
The Philadelphia Flower Show is a sight to behold, taking visitors from Winter to Spring as they step into a wonderland of gardens, plants, and floral designs. Billed as the world’s largest indoor flower exhibit and the oldest (1829) in the nation, the Philadelphia Flower Show annually attracts more than 250,000 visitors from all over the world.
Traditional gardens, despite their beauty and appeal, can cause serious harm to the environment, including pesticide runoff, and introduction of invasive species.
So, since 1993, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional office has used this wonderful venue to educate gardeners on techniques that protect the environment and at the same time create beautiful gardens.
Using native plants, and recycled materials, the EPA Flower Team of volunteers formulates designs, constructs, and creates an exhibit that vividly demonstrates the beauty and practicality of native plants and beneficial landscaping techniques. The 2009 exhibit features 75 native plant species. The plants must be forced to bloom by showtime, which is an especially delicate process. Plants cannot bloom too soon or too late. While the team members are experts in the field of forcing, it comes down to perfect timing, which is the key to successful forcing.
As a communications coordinator I have been involved in outreach for the Flower Show team for more than 10 years. It’s amazing to see each exhibit come to life, conveying environmental messages in its own unique way. But that’s to be expected, as my friends and coworkers who put so much effort into the Flower Show are just as energetic the other 50 weeks of the year doing their environmental jobs.
The 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show, runs from Sunday, March 1 through March 8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The EPA display, “L’acqua e vita La vita e acqua” or “Water is Life, Life is Water”, focuses on the life of a watershed beginning with the birth of a stream. If you’re in the area, stop by and see for yourself the beauty and environmental benefits of green gardening techniques. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or getting your hands dirty for the first time, there’ll be plenty to see and learn.
See you at the Flower Show.