Setting Up the 2020 PHS Flower Show “Riviera Holiday”


This Saturday is the opening day of the 2020 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Riviera Holiday.” For nine days, visitors to the Flower Show will be immersed in the sights and scents of the Mediterranean Riviera through garden displays, floral arrangements, design concepts, and more.

Set-up Begins in the Philadelphia Convention Center

We visited the site of the Flower Show on Tuesday of this week and found the halls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center buzzing with forklifts and people. Piles of mulch surrounded soaring olive trees – shipped all the way from Southern California – and countless pots of lavender and roses huddled around displays. Garden beds were being built quite literally from the ground up, brick by brick and tile by colorful tile, as weeklong temporary homes for fig trees and succulents. 

Quaint mediterranean homes and front gardens being constructed from the ground up the week of February 24, 2020.

Some plants, including the olive trees, were shipped into Philadelphia from California, the United States’ most “Mediterranean” climate. Others, such as the lemon trees, were grown in Florida and shipped to Philadelphia. Lavender and rosemary plants were forced (which means to grow plants out of their season) in the greenhouses of PHS’s Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. 

The Oldest Horticultural Event In The Nation

As the oldest horticultural event in the nation, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is no stranger to the preparation it takes to create the extravagant displays that have garnered the fame of the show. Dating back to 1829, the Flower Show is one of the longest-running events in Philadelphia. This year, more than 250,000 visitors are expected to attend. Since the official start of set-up on February 19, hundreds of people (and thousands of hands) have worked around the clock to put the enormous event together. To get an idea of the scale of the gardens being built, the equivalent of 30 tractor trailers of mulch were used in the halls of the Convention Center to create “Riviera Holiday.”

On Thursday, we returned to the Flower Show to see the progress of set-up. The halls of the Convention Center looked a world of difference from Tuesday. A French-style plaza and a 25-foot olive tree welcomes visitors at the entrance of the show, with scents of sweet citrus wafting from the thousands of flowers and lemons hanging tantalizingly on garden arbors. Most of the mulch had been bedded neatly around a variety of landscape and floral exhibits: in a matter of steps, we were taken from dreamy Mediterranean fountain patio to Cinque Terre to a dark pool overlooking the French Riviera. 

Floral designers imitate the colorful homes in the steep hills of Cinque Terre, Italy.

Lemons hanging over a walkway encircling the main French plaza at the entrance of the “Riviera Holiday.”

What To See At The Flower Show This Year

New exhibits this year include an educational station on the benefits of medicinal plants, including cannabis, and a home gardening hub, where interactive seminars will take place every day, including family-friendly DIY crafts and games. The Flower Show Marketplace features over 200 vendors!

For a comprehensive overview, click here. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance! We look forward to seeing the gardens of the European Mediterranean in full bloom this coming week. 

Painstakingly constructed flower arbors at the 2020 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.

Solo Real Estate is proud to support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society by sponsoring the PHS Pop Up Garden at South Street, open from late April to October.