Banking on 'Brilliant!' at the flower show

Philadelphia Flower Show
A dancer performs at an exhibit titled Pele's Garden by Waldor Orchids in the 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show "Hawaii: Islands of Aloha," Monday, March 5, 2012, in Philadelphia. The show is scheduled to run through Sunday, March 11. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Flower show madness has begun. The folks at PHS are calm and organized, the exhibitors have their stuff together, all seems ready for "Brilliant!"... so why is it so crazy chez moi? Every year the month before the show (it runs March 2-10) is a race for me. Although I start interviewing key people weeks ahead, around this time I have to pull everything together for stories that will run in several sections of the paper before the show opens and while it's on.

I try to make these stories real, ones that readers will learn from and enjoy, which means they take a lot of work. You wouldn't think so 'cause there's so much stuff out there that reads like a press release. Although there are a lot of great things about the flower show, I try to avoid that.

Today I talked at length with Gary Radin, set designer for the show's central feature, the one that greets visitors. He gave me a rundown: gates and archway reminiscent of Buckingham Palace, allee of native birch trees, Big Ben at the end. One surprise: There's no live entertainment this year, which some may applaud. (Even a few exhibitors complain that the entertainment's been drives them crazy. They have to stand there for 9 or 10 days.) For me, the entertainment, with some exceptions (the Paris show), has been a lot of fun, particularly the Aran Island and Hawaiian dancers.

This year, instead of people entertainment, the show will feature - as it did last year with "the wave" - a sound/light show that projects images onto Big Ben and the plaza (including water features) that surrounds it. Haven't talked to Klip Collective yet - they've got a film in the Sundance Festival and won't be back till Monday - but I'll find out about that on Tuesday.

So prepare yourself: This blog and and the dead-tree Inky are about to launch another year's coverage of the flower show. Which, by the way, has dropped the "international" moniker - thank you, that was kinda silly - and is now back to calling itself the "Philadelphia Flower Show."