What To Do: Spring comes into bloom at Flower Show

Also: Multiple options to enjoy March’s First Friday

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


A harbinger of the coming spring: the Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which opens Saturday.

Even though spring is almost a month away and snow keeps entering the forecast, you can get into a springtime mood by attending the 2016 PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch streets, Philadelphia, 215-988-8899, www.theflowershow.com).

The festive event, which opens on March 5 and runs through March 13 this year, gives area residents with a fragrant and colorful alternative to winter in the Delaware Valley. The theme of this year’s show is “Explore America.”

Through “Explore America,” PHS and the Park Service are engaging those who know and love the parks, and inviting a new generation to discover the special places that belong to us all.

 In the Flower Show’s acres of trails, exhibits and attractions, guests will discover the range of horticulture in the national landscape, including the rainbow of wildflowers, desert blooms, coastal flora, verdant meadows, fragrant pinelands, and ancient redwoods.

The Flower Show will also tell the diverse stories that forged the United States with exhibits inspired by the nation’s monuments and places where history happened. “Explore America” will spotlight Independence National Historical Park, Lincoln’s birthplace, Liberty Island, and other sites honoring our national heritage.

Floral competition is always a major drawing card at the annual show. The 2016 Flower Show will feature a large number of garden displays and thousands of plants and floral designs entered in various competitions. These entries will be reviewed and rated by a staff featuring over 200 expert judges from across the nation.

The show’s biggest attraction each year is the massive “Marketplace” featuring over 150 vendors from all over America and several European nations. They will be selling flowers, orchids, floral-inspired furniture, sheds, artwork and unique garden-related crafts and supplies.

Throughout the week, hundreds of gardening experts will provide learning opportunities in the Lecture Series. These daily lectures are held on the bridge concourse adjacent to the show entrance.

Be prepared for large crowds during the weekend hours. If you want a more leisurely visit, plan to visit the show during the week. Also, take public transportation if possible. Vehicular traffic in the area is frequently a nightmare and parking lots tend to fill up early even though they are charging exorbitant fees.

Video for the Flower Show– https://youtu.be/sdW9SWF1E7g.

Tickets for the Philadelphia Flower Show are available online in advance for $27 ($34 at the door) for adults, $20 ($22 at the door) for students with valid ID and $15 ($17 at the door) for children ages 2-16. Tickets purchased online are subject to a $1 online ticketing fee.


Orchid Extravaganza, Longwood Gardens.

Another indoor attraction of a horticultural nature is the “Orchid Extravaganza,” which is running now through March 27 at Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org).

The celebration of the orchid species features approximately 5,000 orchids in bloom along with a variety of displays and special exhibits throughout its four-acre conservatory. There are displays of orchids in planting beds, containers and innovative exhibits.

As one of the first plant collections at Longwood, orchids have held a place of distinction since 1922. Longwood’s talented horticulturists celebrate the beauty and variety of orchids with an artful display that includes a towering 12-foot-tall archway, a spectacular orchid curtain, and hundreds of vibrant Vanda orchids in the Silver Garden.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $10 for students.

Art-Stroll-InviteOn March 4, it will be time for another installment of Kennett Square’s First Friday Art Stroll in downtown Kennett Square (http://historickennettsquare.com/recreation-culture/art-stroll/).

Kennett Square’s Art Stroll is a monthly celebration of the local art scene as it is showcased in the galleries, shops and restaurants throughout town. Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to stroll the tree-lined streets and browse the many businesses that stay open late.

The Art Stroll runs from 6-9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. After 5 p.m. on Friday, visitors can take advantage of free parking anywhere in the Parking Garage and at any street meter.

There will also be First Friday happenings in West Chester and Lancaster.

first friday in west chester

First Friday in West Chester.

First Friday in West Chester (downtownwestchester.com) will take place all day on March 4 in downtown West Chester. Shops and boutiques are open late on the first Friday of every month to show off their newest seasonal fashions and giftware items.

Visitors will be able to browse the in-store specials and enjoy complimentary refreshments while checking out the variety of unique items each shop has to offer. For store information and location, visit the retail directory at http://www.downtownwestchester.com/retaildir.php?filter=TSBL.

Lancaster’s popular First Friday (http://www.visitlancastercity.com/first-friday/) is an arts extravaganza that runs from 5-9 p.m. on March 4. Visitors to downtown Lancaster will have the opportunity to discover innovative exhibitions, performances and perhaps a few surprises as they walk the streets lined with trees and distinctive architecture.

Unique boutiques and excellent restaurants complement the art galleries, artisan studios, museums, performing groups, professional theater, symphony orchestra and art college that form Lancaster’s arts community.

winecheese_detailThe Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, www.chaddsford.com) will present an event called “Wine and Cheese Pairings” on March 5,6, 12 and 13 from noon-6 p.m. each day. Participants will be able to experiment with food-friendly wines and tasty cheeses at six stations.

The pairings will be 2013 Barrel Select Chardonnay paired with Grana Padana, 2014 Artisan Series Traminette paired with 6-year-aged Pittig Gouda, Pre-Release 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Comte French Gruyere, 2014 Proprietors Reserve White paired with Manchego, 2013 Proprietors Reserve Red paired with Cantal French Farmhouse Cheddar and 2013 Artisan Series Chambourcin paired with imported Classic Picante Provolone.

Tickets are $25 per person and reservations are recommended.

If you’re thinking about getting an RV — or any type from a home-away-from-home on wheels — then you should check out the Greater Philadelphia RV Show & Sale which is running from March 4-6 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Avenue, Oaks, 800-290-6886, www.phillyrvshow.com).

Visitors to the show will be able to shop at exhibits by many of the top dealers of Southeastern Pennsylvania without having to drive all around the area to do so. The dealers will all be assembled together under one roof so comparison shopping becomes an easy task.

In addition to exhibits displaying all types of RVs, the show will also feature supplier booths, camping information and dealers specializing in parts and accessories.

The list of seminars that will be presented his year includes Alaska RV Adventure, Route 66 Adventure: Exploring the Mother Road, Great Rocky Mountain RV Adventure: New Mexico to the Canadian Rockies, and Northeast Coast Adventure: Maine to Newfoundland and the Maritimes.

The roster of participating dealers includes Stoltzfus RV & Marine (West Chester), Berks-Montgomery Camping Center, Hitch RV, Fretz Enterprises, Indian Valley Camping Center, Family Camping Outlet

The line-up also includes RV Value Mart, Shady Maple RV, Stoltzfus RV (Adamstown), Miller Trailer Sales, Showhauler, Tom Schaeffer’s RV Center, Campers Inn and Main Line Overland.

Show hours are noon-8:30 p.m. on March 4, 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. on March 5 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on March 6. Tickets are $11 with children (under 12) admitted free.

12115474_988526451205839_5735422137003415309_nIf you’re an outdoor enthusiast who is strictly a fisherman, you can check out the “Fly Fishing Show” which is being held now through March 1 at the Lancaster Convention Center Lancaster Convention Center, 3 East Vine Street, Lancaster, 866-481-2393, www.flyfishingshow.com).

The list of special attractions at the 20156 show includes seminars and demonstrations presented by many of Pennsylvania’s finest fly-fishing celebrities along with a number of national celebrities. There also will be a huge vendors’ area with an array of fishing-related products on sale.

The International Federation of Fly Fishers will be offering free fly fishing instruction at the FFF Learning Center located at the FFF booth.  Basic fly casting, fly tying and knot tying will be taught throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday.

The International Fly Fishing Film Festival will be held on March 5 starting at 6 p.m. Tickets for the film fest are $15.

There will also be booths featuring authors of books on fly fishing with a roster that includes Joe Humphreys, Jerry Hamza, Bob Clouser, Rich Strollis, Gary Borger, Beau Beasley, Lefty Kreh, George Daniel, Bob Popovics, Tom Boyd, Bob Romano, Jason Randall, Matt Grobert, and Henry Ramsay.

Show hours are from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Adult tickets are $15 for one day or $25 for a two-day pass. Tickets for children (under 12) are $2.

On March 5, there will be a special “Falling Snowflakes Hike” at Bucktoe Creek Preserve (432 Sharp Road, Avondale, app.etapestry.com). The nature-based event will take place from 9-11 a.m.

The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, which is sponsoring the hike, invites guests to bundle up for a morning walk through the frosty meadows of Bucktoe Creek Preserve to learn about the wonders of snowflakes.

Participants are encouraged to bring their families to make snowflake crafts and enjoy hot chocolate at the conclusion of the walk. Cost for the hike is $3 for TLC members and $5 for non-members. This program is geared towards families with kids approximately four years and older.

On March 4, the Historic Houses of Odessa (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org), will hold a special Artist Opening Reception for “Beyond Realism: The Art of Michael A. Bignell.”

In “Beyond Realism: The Art of Michael A. Bignell,” paintings by award-winning Maryland artist, and former architect, Michael Bignell will be on display through May 29. The stimulus behind Bignell’s work is known as “Beyond Realism,” and his subjects include Eastern Shore scenes, New York City, and Odessa.

Born and raised in the rural South Coast of England, Bignell has returned to painting after a successful career as an architect. He studied architecture at the University of Brighton and was later awarded a scholarship to Yale University where he obtained a Master’s Degree at the School of Architecture.

The 2016 Historic Houses of Odessa season began last week with two exhibits — “Beyond Realism: The Art of Michael A. Bignell” and “Picture Perfect: 19th Century Photographic Portraits from the HOF Collection.”

“Picture Perfect: 19th Century Photographic Portraits from the HOF Collection” presents a small case exhibit of its 19th-century photographs depicting prominent Odessa citizens. It will be on display through June 1 in the National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House (c. 1769).

The Historic Odessa Foundation owns and operates The Historic Houses of Odessa, a 30-acre enclave of 18th and 19th century structures located in the town of Odessa. The original town of Odessa, originally known as Cantwell’s Bridge, has retained much of its 18th century charm. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to a National Historic Landmark, and two National Park Service “Network to Freedom” sites.

The reception on March 4 will run from 6-8 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door.

On March 5, Wheatland (230 North President Avenue, Lancaster, 717- 392-4633, www.LancasterHistory.org) will present a special living history event called “Buck Henry — James Buchanan’s Ardent Ally” from noon-3 p.m.

James Buchanan Henry (nicknamed, Buck Henry) was orphaned in 1840 and raised by his Uncle James Buchanan.  Both he and his cousin, Harriet Lane, were sent to the finest schools and served in the White House for James Buchanan.  Buck served as the President’s Private Secretary until the end of 1858, but resigned when he and the President had a falling out.

Despite this disagreement and others Buck experienced growing up in Buchanan’s home, Buck Henry proved to be one of the most ardent supporters of his famous uncle’s legacy. Visitors can travel back to the summer of 1868 at Wheatland and discover how Buck Henry intended to defend and raise up his Uncle James Buchanan’s reputation.

Visitors to Wheatland — along with their tour guides — will be invisible to the characters of the past. This will allow tour participants to eavesdrop and hear Buch Henry and Uncle James reminisce about their life at Wheatland and in the White House.

Tickets are $12.

For all you parents who are looking for indoor special activities to quell your kids’ cabin fever, there are a number of good options in the region.

The Garden State Discovery Museum: (2040 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 856-424-1233, www.discoverymuseum.com) is presenting a special program called “Passport to Discovery” on selected weekends now through the end of March.

This weekend’s theme is International Grape Festival and next weekend will be the Starkbier Fest. On March 19, the theme will be Cherry Blossom Festival and “Around The World In 80 Stories” will be featured from March 22-24.

Admission is $13.95 plus tax for adults and children (12 months and over) and $12.95 plus tax for seniors.

Another fun activity at a site across the Delaware River from Philadelphia is “Little Blue Penguins”the popular new attraction at the Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive, Camden, New Jersey, 856-365-3300, www.adventureaquarium.com).

The blue penguins, who might be the cutest penguins ever, have arrived at Adventure Aquarium. Australia’s little blue penguins are the newest addition to the Aquarium’s family.

Visitors can get up close and personal with the ultra-cute penguins as they dart through the water, waddle around and play together beachside in the all new Little Blue Beach exhibit. These playful beach dwellers are even a little bit boisterous and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

In addition to being totally adorable, little blues are the smallest species of penguin in the world — growing an average of 13 inches in height and weighing in at just 3 pounds. They’ve even earned the nickname “fairy penguins” because of their small stature. 

Visitors can also watch the “Little Blue Penguin Feed,” which takes place at Little Blue Beach every day at 10:15 a.m. and again at 4 p.m.

Other attractions at the Adventure Aquarium include “Hippo Haven,” “Stingray Beach Club Feeding Experience,” “Meet the Divers,” “Hippo Feed and Talk,” “Swim with the Sharks,”  “Positively Penguins” and “Sea Turtles Up-Close.”

Admission to the Adventure Aquarium is $26.95 for adults and $19.95 for children (ages 2-12). Children under two are admitted free with a paying adult.

The Hands-on House Children’s Museum (721 Landis Valley Road, Lancaster, 717-569-5437, http://www.handsonhouse.org) is hosting a special series running now through the end of May that it calls its “POP-In” programs.

The museum’s classroom is open for these programs that are “packed with play!” Adults and children can participate and learn together — and they can “POP-in anytime during the scheduled time.

The list of alternating “POP-in” events includes “Red, Blue and You: Tiny Tot Pop-In,” “Aviator Adventure,” “Beep Beep Robot” and “I Spy.”

The Hands-on House Children’s Museum actually offers a wide variety of educational attractions geared to the younger set.

Some of the featured interactive exhibits are “Right in Your Backyard,” “E-I-E-I KNOW,” “Mostly Make-Believe,” “Marty’s Machine Shop,” “Play Garden,” “Face Painting Porch,” “Corner Grocery” and “Post Office.”

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