Shared from the 2017-03-06 Chattanooga eEdition

Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates blooms of Holland

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Grower Regina McKee works with tulips Wednesday in a greenhouse growing plants for the Philadelphia Flower Show at Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown, Pa.

PHILADELPHIA — Visitors arriving at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year will feel as if they’re stepping into the endless flower fields of Holland.

A rainbow sea of 30,000 tulips and other blooms will stretch seemingly into the horizon as a canopy of 6,000 cut and dried flowers floats overhead. Bridges covered in Delft tiles, illuminated windmills and splashing canals will welcome them through the undulating gardens.

The festival runs March 11-19 and is billed as the largest events of its kind in the U.S. The show attracted about 255,000 people last year.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s show this year, “Holland: Flowering the World,” celebrates the beauty of the Dutch landscape and the ingenuity of the country’s green technologies.

But what’s hidden among the swaths of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths is the backstory of the blooms, which started their journey to the flower show last summer at a quaint farm and garden center nestled in the rolling hills just outside the city.

Meadowbrook Farm, in suburban Jenkintown, is operated by the horticultural society and supplies flowers and plants for many of the show’s 50 major exhibitors.

Customers contact the farm each summer with ideas for their show displays and their plant wish lists. Then workers go about raising the plants and “forcing” the flowers.

Plants need a certain amount of exposure to cold temperatures to flower, but also enough days of warmth and the proper amount of light, and those amounts vary from plant to plant.

So plants are put in a 37-degree cooler to make them feel like it’s winter, then transferred to the 68-degree greenhouse, deluded into thinking it’s spring and time to shine.

“It’s an art and a science,” said Nathan Roehrich, the garden’s head grower. “There are so many variables. It’s all about knowing your plants.”

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