Flower show spotlights National Parks and features winter beer garden

 This year's Flower Show will showcase the diverse flora of national parks. (AP file photos)

This year's Flower Show will showcase the diverse flora of national parks. (AP file photos)

In the dead of winter, the Philadelphia Flower Show can be a beacon, reminding us of the coming spring and this year will be more about wildlife than backyards.

The theme of this year’s Flower Show, “Explore America,” is America’s National Park system. All the landscape designers — more than 100 of them — were asked to create an exhibit based on a specific national park. That means a huge range of climates and terrain, from the high deserts of Utah to the lush mountains of Washington.

“From Hawaii and the volcanoes and orchids and all the tropicals there, all the way to Cape Cod National Seashore,” said the show’s chief Sam Lemheney. “And everything in between: Arches, Olympic, Lincoln’s boyhood home and the garden the vegetables that he grew there. This show is the most diverse I’ve ever seen.”

There are more than 400 National Parks in the U.S, so only a portion of which will be represented inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

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The National Park Service has its own staff of landscape architects who tend the natural terrain when they require attention or restoration. A group of them will design their own, artful environment on the expo floor.

The Horticultural Society’s popular summer pop-up beer garden will return, but not outside. It will be built on the expo floor as a winter garden.

The Southeast Pennsylvania Railway Garden Society (“If you didn’t know one existed, it does,” said Lemheney) will design a scale-model train route through a large-scale garden. Look for a special appearance by Thomas the Tank Engine.

To hype up interest in the Flower Show before it launches starts on March 5th, the Horticultural Society will close down Filbert Street near the Reading Terminal Market to stage a pop-up street picnic. “Bring your winter coat, but bring your Frisbee, too,” said Lemheney.

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