The 2022 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Flower Show’s “In Full Bloom” blossoms in South Philly.
If the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s first-ever Philadelphia Flower Show outdoors – the pandemic-bracing. 2021 event in South Philly’s FDR Park – was a grandly theatrical and immersive floral experience (and success), then its 2022 iteration is something more subtle when it comes to presentation and theme. With that, 2022’s PHS show, “In Full Bloom,” offers flora and fauna opportunities dedicated to something more holistic during its return to FDR Park’s 15 acres until June 19, a (hopefully) sun-shiny exploration of the “restorative and healing power of nature and plants.”
Despite a few heavy rains after its Friday, June 10 press and member preview, the rest of the weekend was, for the most part, bright and warm so… so far, so good.
The nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event’s 2022 iteration doesn’t have as lushly dramatic a gazebo as it did last year – one of the first highlights of venturing through the Flower Show’s entrance. But, it’s still a spectacular vista in view, filled with fauna and towering planters. Move a little bit further into the FDR space, before The Boathouse, and there’s curator-blogger Conrad Benner’s Streets Department displays of ginormous crocheted flowers from crochet bomber Nicole Nikolich (Lace in the Moon) and local muralist Cindy Lozito. It’s odd that cloth representations of flowers were more entrancing than the real thing on display but mere feet ahead, but that’s show business. Then again, not far from Benner’s towering exhibition is the Fresh Artists student artwork collection, one where over 125 local student Van Gogh-esque artworks of flowers stand, domino-like, in a row. Again…. the effect is like showing off plastic flowers when the doubly colorful life model is freshly nearby, yet, it works.
Not exactly colorful, but structurally impactful and fun is the octopus-ish Mushrooms Flowers exhibition from Martha Schwartz Partners. The nearly flat-to-the-ground, very brown, multi-prong piece is capped by locally grown mushroom and fungi caps, and with that, features that earthy, musty smell that mushrooms give off – especially when wet. Which was cool.
That said, if you’re going for the sensation of the scent of a sweeter or more fragrant sort, the 2022 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Flower Show features the concept of the ‘misting station’ pushed to the next level with “The Smelly Tunnel.” Here, the Flower Show’s concept of healing waters comes into play as the arched walkway of misting waters is infused with essential oils and their own fragrances of citrus, eucalyptus and lavender. And yes, the Bok Collective by Scout are responsible for the “Smelly Tunnel,” the Bok’s second contribution to the Flower Show after last year’s tiny pink print house giving away handmade posters. And yes, we still have the posters from 2021’s show here.
While there is much to recommend the daytime Flower Show, I’m looking forward to the possibilities of the June 18 after-dark event for “In Full Bloom,” which will put FDR and Pennsylvania Horticultural Society into another bolder light, something more provocative and sensualist than revealed in the light of day.