Mother Nature keeps messing with the Flower Show

Will Mother Nature ever give the Philadelphia Flower Show a break?

The show was moved from February to March a few years back because of interference from snowstorms, but a nor'easter bearing down on the city is packing a wintry late-season punch that mocks that decision.

And while officials of the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show are shaking their heads, they are adamant that the show will go on. "We are not thrilled that it might get a little snowy over the next couple of days," said Alan Jaffe, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

"We thought we could improve our odds a bit" by moving the show, Jaffe said. "We were wrong."

But, he added, "we are friends with Mother Nature no matter what she does."  

While he says he expects loyal Flower Show-goers will make it when they can, the show is contacting bus groups to see if they can rearrange their trips to later in the week, Jaffe said.

This year's show, “Holland: Flowering the World," is packed with tulips, more than 30,000 in the entrance garden. The Ecodome, a 3,500-square-foot igloo-shape exhibit, features Dutch-grown plants and showcases the Netherlands' sustainable technologies. 

Center City residents who get the day off might want to beat cabin fever and are looking for something to do might consider the show for a sea of color and a taste of spring, Jaffe said.

"There are some wonderful family attractions at the show," Jaffe said. Parents can use the trip to teach children about the importance of the natural world, he said.

Make and Take, which lets children use plant materials to make a flower crown or succulent garden, and Experience Butterflies Live!, which features rare and exotic butterflies, are geared toward younger visitors, he said. Separate tickets are needed for both activities.

The show is the major money-raiser for the society and funds its community projects throughout the year, including planting trees, helping community gardens, and improving public landscapes.

Show officials realize they can do little about the forecast — especially during March in Philadelphia, when weather can be unpredictable. And past storms – or non-storms – have given them cause for worry.

In 1993, the show had to close early because of a blizzard. In 2001, Philadelphia meteorologist John Bolaris predicted the "storm of the century" during Flower Show week. The forecast wreaked havoc with attendance and the storm delivered only two inches of snow outside Philadelphia while missing the city altogether.

In 2013, the show attracted 17 percent fewer visitors than the year before, even though it was open to the public for an extra day. Show officials placed most of the blame on local TV stations, which again played up forecasts for a major snowstorm that never materialized, but kept visitors and tour buses away.

As a result of the 2013 debacle, PHS received more than $600,000 from its event-insurance carrier.

Organizers Monday afternoon were still trying to turn the weather into a marketing opportunity, advertising a colorful respite from the white outdoors, and touting "snow beers" at the Pop-Up Beer Garden.

The show is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Jaffe said.