Philadelphia Flower Show 2013

Guests at the preview and young friends parties get the first peek at "Brilliant!"

“Brilliant!” is the appropriate name for this year’s edition of the world-renowned annual Philadelphia Flower Show from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This year’s displays take inspiration from the beauty and splendor of Great Britain’s magnificent gardens, as well as its wonderful history of pop culture and royalty. The annual black-tie preview party (this year, scheduled a night earlier to give the show two full weekends for the public to enjoy Brilliant!) was held Friday. Pictured: Peter Auerbach, Out Hotel, Kristin Auerbach, Drew Becher, PHS president, and Eric Lochner, president of global talent management at Kenexa.

Below: Kate Chimicles and Jimmy Owens, both of PHS, are standing in the new “Hamilton Horticourt.” For many years, Mrs. Samuel M.V. Hamilton has shared her passion for horticulture by entering extraordinary plants in the competition. Her generosity to PHS was revealed at the grand opening of the Hamilton Horticourt, where visitors can see spectacular plants exhibited by amateurs and pros. The structure will be permanent and used every year at flower show.

Below: This year, instead of the usual fancy, but time-consuming dinner held in the Grand Ballroom, guests enjoyed a wonderful three-hour cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres and a “grazing menu” inspired by traditional British fare (think fish and chips and bangers and mash, as well as dishes influenced by London’s prominent Indian culture and cuisine). I loved the change because it gave the guests three hours to take in the show, and mix and mingle. Below: John Daly and Palma Stewart, of Gladwyne, were inspired by the gardens in the English Cottages.

Below: Brendan Kent and Maria Papadakis, with executive chef Eric Hill, Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Below: Sharilyn Drewen Gilfillan and Juan Vidal were checking out all the beautiful table displays in anticipation of their wedding next year.

Below: John Albright and Audrey Shinn.

Below: Victor Tafur, and Kika Rocha, Rosade Bonsai Studios.

Below: Jack Comstock, VP of talent at QVC, Keely Martin, Mary Pat Kingsley, feng shui consultant, and Ilonka Comstock, floral decorator. After years of competing at the Flower Show, this year Ilonka is only a spectator but enjoyed the show very much, stating that she loved the ingenuity of Michael Bruce.

Below: Sue Weisser, the Floral Studio (left), created this spectacular “crown jewels” using jewels and flowers. You’ll recall last year long-time exhibitors Kris Kratt and Bill Schaffer were married at the PHS Wedding Wednesday; this year, they have something else to celebrate. Their exhibit “Jack the Ripper” took the prize for “Best of Show.” Check it out; it’s in the far right corner when you first enter the room. They’re also debuting their new book, Taking Home the Flower Show this week. It can be bought on location at the PHS store located at the show. On Thursday and Friday, the duo will be at the demonstration studio where, after their show, you can get a signed copy of the informative book.

Below: Nancy and Bruce Knee flew down from New Hampshire after winning the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show Sweepstakes in Organic Gardening Magazine. By the end of the night, she took off her heels and put on her Crocs to really take in the entire exhibition floor.

Below: Betsie Blodgett, PHS, Andrew Doggett, Larken Kenuk and Tom Hyndman, who has been volunteering at the flower show for nearly as many years as they’ve been having it.

Below: Nigel Brown and Michelle Rogers enjoyed the beautiful cottage gardens. Nigel, who is originally from Great Britain, told me that PHS did a magnificent job at capturing the English countryside and it was fascinating to see all the flowers of his homeland in bloom at once, as that never really happens in real life.

Below: Susan Hersch, Joan Shiller, Christine Henisee, Jackie Henisee and Suzette Strayer. Suzette loved the Alice in Wonderland exhibit, especially all the food created out of flowers. All the ladies told me they would return later in the week to go garden shopping as that section of the show is not open during the preview party.

Below: Michael Haschak, owner of Pure Design Floral, sitting in his exhibit, which won a “Special Achievement” award for the show, with Sarah Presogna.

Last year, the Flower Show started a Young Friends After-Party, with an open bar, light fare and dancing, as well as a late-night preview of all the show had to offer. This year, about 500 young friends came out to dance under Big Ben. Below: Michelle Nicoletto and Daniel Moise.

Below: Sara Loveland, Annette Environmental, and Gena Zak, who traveled from Washington D.C. to enjoy the show, as well as support the Young Friends After-Party.

Below: Rhonda Young and Joy Widgeon tell me that this year’s young friends party was much more fun than last year. They think the ambiance was better, and they love that the dance floor was larger, not tucked away in the corner. As for the show, they say it’s the best they’ve seen in years. All the exhibits are colorful, and most important, the Convention Center is very fragrant.

Below: Rachel Hodas, teaching assistant at Temple, and Ben Stango, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, will return later in the week to see the show, as they spent most of the night dancing away with their friends.

Below: Jeffrey Tan and Sophie Wilmot. There is so much wonderment to see at the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show. I highly recommend you see this year’s show. It really was brilliant!