1Thing: The Philadelphia Flower Show takes on biodiversity

Rasa Kaye
February 28, 2020 - 7:02 pm
2020 Philadelphia Flower Show

Mike Dougherty/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For suburbanites or city dwellers, the Philadelphia Flower Show is a welcome dose of spring fever. It's also a sprawling floral laboratory of sustainable and healthful gardening practices that you can bring home to your own plots or pots.  

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is expanding its already vast offerings of lectures, demos and displays with a daylong Gardening for Biodiversity Symposium at this year's show to respond to strong local interest in gardening that promotes the health of individuals and communities throughout the region, what PHS associate director of strategy, planning and partnerships Liane Sullivan and her colleagues call "gardening for the greater good." 

"We also know that biodiversity is an urgent issue and that there is a growing interest in native plants, pollinators, and conservation," she explained. "Since 94% of Flower Show visitors are gardeners, from the novice to advanced level, we narrowed the focus even further to 'Gardening for Biodiversity.'"  

The day of learning is Wednesday, March 4 and consists of a series of easily digested 20-minute talks by a range of international experts. 

The first two sessions include opening remarks by world-renowned botanist Dr. Peter Raven (dubbed a "Hero for the Planet" by TIME magazine) and Abby Meyer, the U.S. executive director of Botanic Gardens Conservation International. 

 "(They) will set the stage by introducing the audience to the issue of biodiversity, why it matters, and how their gardening can make a difference," Sullivan previewed. "In the afternoon, gardeners will gain some practical tips to implement at home."

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Sullivan's must-see presentations include talks on seed biodiversity, native landscapes, and on choosing flowers that feed bees.

PHS vice president of public horticulture Andrew Bunting said local PHS talent will shine at the symposium as well, and illuminate programs in our area that can inspire attendees.

"Our own Glenn Ashton and Sam Keitch will explore 'Gardening for Biodiversity in PHS's Public Gardens and Landscapes'", Bunting explained, "and Samir Dalal, planning manager for landcare, will be discussing a grant the Horticultural Society received from the National Wildlife Federation to plant pollinator gardens on vacant lots."

The symposium requires its own ticket, which includes admission to the show. 

If you can't actually get to this year's Riviera-themed extravaganza and its biodiversity symposium, that's a real shame, but online resources abound to help you prep your garden to be more planet-friendly this spring. 

Your local garden club can share insights (they're waiting for you in New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and, naturally, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is standing by to make your thumb greener while you help make your green-space more sustainable. 

"It is incumbent upon all of us to do our part in protecting planet Earth," according to PHS' Bunting. "Every home gardener has the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to plant conservation and biodiversity. This can be as simple as adding some pollinator plants to your garden or reducing just a small amount of lawn into a garden space. In the winter just leaving the old seed heads on perennials will be a food source for birds in the garden. Every little bit helps and every contribution the gardener can make matters."