Philadelphia, PA (January 9, 2007)- In 1827, the nation’s first passenger and freight railroad was incorporated (Baltimore & Ohio), slavery was abolished in the state of New York, and, on November 24, a group of gentleman farmers, botanists, and other plant enthusiasts held a meeting to create the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS).
There, it was resolved “to establish a Horticultural Society in the City of Philadelphia for the promotion of this interesting and highly influential branch of Science.” At this time, the fledging PHS boasted 53 members. Today, our membership is 14,000 strong. Now over 175 years old, the PHS continues in its mission to “motivate people to improve the quality of life and create a sense of community through horticulture.”
Community, friendship, and glorious gardens all describe PHS, but interwoven with these descriptions is tradition, and the tradition that looms in most minds, is the Philadelphia Flower Show, held each year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Philadelphia gave birth not only to America’s first horticultural society, but also, in 1829, the nation’s first flower show. The Philadelphia Flower Show was held in an 82-by-69-foot building called Masonic Hall on Chestnut Street. Twenty-five Society members showed off their horticultural treasures including a variety of exotic and native plants like magnolias, peonies from China, an India rubber tree, the Coffee Tree of Arabia, and sugar cane from the West Indies. It was also here that the poinsettia, a well-known Christmas favorite, was introduced. Over the decades, the event has grown dramatically to become the nation’s grandest Flower Show, attracting 275,000 visitors annually over an eight-day period.
Other core programs include:
* Philadelphia Green. Initiated in 1974 from grassroots efforts to plant neighborhood vegetable gardens, it has become the nation’s pre-eminent model for urban greening to make cities more livable, likable, and workable.
* Volunteering. Whether it’s planting fall bulbs in a Philadelphia neighborhood, taking a tour of other members’ gardens, or joining other avid gardeners to help stage the Philadelphia Flower Show, when gardeners come together, great things happen.
* Garden tours and publications.
* Kids Grow Expo
* City Gardens Contest
For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.