Was Drew Becher Too Ambitious for Philly?

Drew Becher and Rachael Ray at the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Drew Becher and Rachael Ray at the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show. | Photo: Bradley Maule

Let me be frank: I have no facility with plants or flowers; anytime a green thing comes into contact with my fingers, it wilts and dies, as though my antidepressants are leeching through my pores. Still, I’m deeply attuned to the flora of our city. For one thing, we’re fortunate to live in a verdant metropolis with an enormous park system. For another, we have a robust horticultural society that presents the largest flower show in the hemisphere. And lately, well, we’ve got these pop-up gardens that celebrate plants and flowers — and also offer beer. We mustn’t forget the beer.

And I’m not alone. Residents of Philadelphia care deeply about our ample green space. That’s why it hasn’t surprised me to be on the receiving end, for several months now, of rather urgently phrased whispers about potential problems at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). The problems, people told me, all related to its president, Drew Becher, and the changes he’s implemented since he arrived in 2010 to replace Jane Pepper, who was president for 29 years before she retired. Modernization is never easy, and change agents have it especially hard in this town. But the level of vitriol directed at Becher surprised me — and this was coming from people outside of PHS, without an ax to grind.

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Philadelphia Flower Show Black-Tie Gala and Afterparty

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The 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show opened on Friday, February 27, 2015, with a black-tie gala. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail party under a marquee of beautiful flowers while surrounded by Caribbean pirates, playful rats, princesses, and chickens in the barnyard. This year’s theme is “Celebrate the Movies,” and as you may have guessed, there’s a large contingent of displays inspired by Disney movies as well as Hollywood classics. After the cocktail hour, dinner took place among the floral displays. As dinner ended at 10 p.m., guests joined the afterparty where DJ Montone and DJ Jason Weiss kicked off dance party which continued well after midnight. The Flower Show runs through March 8, with a schedule full of special events, celebrity appearances, and lots and lots of beautiful flowers and shopping.

More photos from the Flower Show Gala after the jump »

PHOTOS: G Philly’s LGBT Party at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Bette Midler, Evan Urbania, Liza, Drew Becher, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Ian, Crystal Electra. Sam Lemheney, PHS Flower Show Designer and James Bond.

“Bette Midler,” Chatterblast co-founder Evan Urbania, “Judy Garland” Drew Becher, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Brittany Lynn, Crystal Electra. Sam Lemheney, PHS Flower Show Designer, and “James Bond.”

Despite the fact that ice was falling from the sky, more than 200 revelers came out yesterday for our fifth annual LGBT Party at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The afternoon kicked off with opening remarks from openly gay Pennsylvania Horticultural Society President Drew Becher. Our special guest, film legend Pam Grier, was there as an ambassador for Dining Out for Life. She was presented with an award from Subaru for her dedication to the gay community, particularly her work to bring an end to HIV/AIDS.

I got to sit down for a Q&A with her, where, despite some unfortunate technical difficulties, we chatted about her involvement for Dining Out for Life, and her next film project—a film adaptation of her 2010 memoir Foxy: My Life in Three Acts.

The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with friends, and eating and drinking from our fab lineup of food and drink vendors. Our good buddy HughE Dillon was there to snap some photos, which you can see below while hitting a few of the highlights in the captions.



If you missed out, the Philadelphia Flower Show is running now through March 8th. More information can be found here.

See shots from last year’s party here. Man, how time flies.

One of Us: Drew Becher, Philadelphia Flower Show Honcho

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Drew Becher, but my full name is David Andrew Becher Jr.

I am a … nature lover.

I live in … Chestnut Hill, one of the greatest neighborhoods in the country. My partner Eric and I have lived in a lot of places. We love the houses, the village, the people, and being next to the Wissahickon. It’s like being on vacation 24/7.

I grew up in … Dayton, Ohio, until I went to college. Life in Dayton was wonderful. That’s where I got my penchant for gardening, from my grandmother. That said, I don’t know that I’d want to go back. But it’s a nice place to be from. Read more »

Flower Show to Debut New 5K Run (On Closed City Streets!)

flower showLooks like the Philadelphia Flower Show is getting in on the 5K action this spring with a new 3.1-mile fun run planned for Sunday, March 1st.

And while I wouldn’t normally get all that psyched about yet another 5K (It seems like every organization under the sun hosts one these days, am I right?), this one has two fun twists: a closed course (!) that takes you through Market East to Front Street and back to the Flower Show via Chinatown, and a post-run party with free alcohol.

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And This Summer’s PHS Pop-Up Garden Will Be …

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The Passyunk Post
was at the Passyunk Square Civic Association meeting when the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society presented two possible locations for this summer’s PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden. Being considered, is the former Ice House location, just in from the corner of 9th and Washington and a smaller lot at 9th and Wharton, near Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks.

The 9th and Washington Avenue location would surely help the Italian Market be seen as more than just a daytime destination while 9th and Wharton already has a lot of energy, 24-hours a day.

The Post also reports that in addition to this South Philadelphia location, PHS is considering a second garden in another area of the city this summer.

PHS pop up garden could be coming to one of these vacant lots [Passyunk Post]

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PHS Pop-Up Garden Making Winter Appearances

PHS Cider | Photo by HughE Dillon

PHS Cider | Photo by HughE Dillon

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) Pop-Up Beer Garden will be making two special appearances this winter. The highly successful pop-up will be indoors this February and March. The garden will appear in the rotunda at the Shops at Liberty Place from February 14th to March 8th. The dates are a tie in to the PHS’s Philadelphia Flower Show.

Speaking of the Flower Show, there will also be a beer garden during the Flower Show, which runs February 28th to March 8th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The pop-up beer gardens will host music, movies, food and of course beer and other libations. The PHS will be debuting its PHS Horticulture Cider by Wyndridge Farm Cidery at both locations.

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WATCH: Video Shows What Entrance to Philadelphia Flower Show 2015 Will Look Like

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) YouTube’d a video that shows architectural details of the 2015 Flower Show entrance. Staying true to its movie theme, it features a big ol’ Hollywood sign, and surrounding props, like a theater marquee and a series of palm trees, that’ll make you feel like you’re strolling into a movie theater in Tinsel Town. Check it out below:

The 2015 Flower Show is set to open Saturday, February 28th. More information can be found here.

This Weekend: Lineup for the PHS Fall Festival

PHSFallFestival

For those of you who didn’t get your fill of outdoor food-and-booze festivals at last night’s Feastival or Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll, here’s another chance for you to get out in the sun and eat some stuff–the PHS Fall Festival.

It’s happening tomorrow at the Navy Yard and we’ve got the full list of food, drinks and sweets that’ll be on site to distract you from all the gardening displays and flowery knick-knacks.

Here’s what you’ll be eating and drinking at the PHS Fall Fest

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