‘Don’t fall in love at the Flower Show’ and 9 more handy tips

    The Philadelphia International Flower Show is widely touted as the the most ambitious indoor garden show in the world. We’ll help you navigate. Got some good tips, yourself? Let us know!

    The Philadelphia International Flower Show, March 4-11 at the Philadelphia Convention Center, is widely touted as the the most ambitious indoor garden show in the world. And for good reason. If you’ve been there, you know.

    The show can be a bushel of fun, but it gets pretty crowded. If you don’t do some minor preparation, you might be scared away next year. No one wants that. So here is some of our best advice.

    Got some good tips, yourself?Tell us in the comments below.

    1. Planning

    Review the International Flower Show website and grab a map when you get to the convention center to plan your route. On crowded days it can be hard to fight through the crowds if you miss something.

    2. Timing

    Go on a week day. Weekends and mornings can be heinously crowded. Count on a four-hour visit if you plan on seeing everything.

    Mike McGrath from WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden” has some great advice:

    “Don’t go early! Early in the day is when hundreds upon hundreds of buses arrive from seemingly every place in the world to drop off thousands of out-of-towners. Things start to get a little better after lunch; but ‘the bus people’ tend to leave around 3 p.m., and then it really opens up. And the evening (the show is open till after 9 p.m.) is the best.

    “Even better: Arrive at 4, wander a while, get stamped, do dinner, then come back to a ‘front row seat’ till they close at 9:30.”

    3. Getting there

    This from WHYY’s Maiken Scott: Do not take the 48 or any other bus that runs down Race or Arch Streets. When you get trapped, you will regret it. Avoid Race and Arch altogether.

    Coming from New Jersey? Park as soon as you get off the bridge and walk a few blocks. Otherwise, you will have a devil of a time finding ramp parking. Forget about street parking.

    Also, the subway and PATCO both stop very near the convention center.

    4. Food

    Do not make this your inaugural visit to the Reading Terminal Market — it will be miserable. Instead, try a stroll through Chinatown or visit any of the many other nearby options.

    WHYY’s Peter Crimmins just told me that Smokin’ Betty’s (11th and Sansom Streets) is hosting a Hawaii-themed lunch on March 5, 7, 9 and 10, presented by City Food Tours, featuring exotic chocolates, imported teas, mahi-mahi tacos, and a tropical cocktail. But you need reservations.

    5. What to wear

    Wear light clothes, and dress in layers. Surrender your coat at the coat check. Levels of temperature and humidity are unpredictable — much like this year’s winter in general, so you may be used to this already.

    And wear comfy, flat shoes. This show covers 10 acres and the floors are concrete.

    6. What to carry

    You may want paper, pen and camera to record information about plants, landscaping, phone numbers and advice. Take the minimum necessary, and try to consolidate to one bag. A backpack will leave your hands free and save your arms from toting a bag that will get heavier throughout the day. And for heaven’s sake, do not bring a wheeled bag, unless you are intending to trip as many people as possible.

    It can be tempting to load up a baby carriage with heaps of bags, coats, purchases — and maybe a baby. Please don’t overdo it. It will be hard for you to manoeuvre, and everyone will hate you for it.

    7. Shopping

    Make the marketplace your last stop. More advice from McGrath: Plan your purchases first, then tour the exhibition, and then make your purchases.

    “Then ask yourself: Aren’t you glad you haven’t been carrying all this stuff around the past three hours?” he says. “You’re welcome.”

    8. Pay attention

    A quarter of a million people will pass through the flower show when all is said and done. You are not the only person there. Be patient with the crowd as you try to set up photo ops with your friends. And return the courtesy: Don’t step in front of someone else’s camera. Try not to stop in narrow passages to gab with your pals, or suddenly reverse directions. There is almost always going to be someone directly behind you.

    9. Don’t fall in love

    This is also from Scott: If you see a beautiful tropical plant you simply must take home to mom, resist with all your strength. Do not buy something that will not grow in this region or that will not grow indoors. And do not buy something that will wilt and fall apart as you make your way back to your car.

    10. Become a member

    Becoming a member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which organizes the show, gets you some sweet deals on tickets. (And shhh…PHS members will get first crack at buying the display plants after the show!)

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